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Oakland A's spring training: Ike Davis can replace Brandon Moss, says David Forst

As Athletics position players report, the A's assistant general manager makes his strongest statement on the qualities of Ike Davis and Joey Wendle. Plus other news and notes from Mesa and around the web.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Assistant General Manager David Forst spoke extensively to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto about the trade sending Brandon Moss to the Cleveland Indians. Forst told Pluto, "We believe we found a replacement in Ike Davis, and he won't cost as much." It's probably the strongest statement Forst has said in terms of Ike Davis replacing Brandon Moss.

Forst also said the A's are really high on the player they got for Moss, Joey Wendle, which Pluto points out has never been in a top 100 prospect list:

"We don't concern ourselves with what others say (when it comes to prospects)," said Oakland Assistant General Manager David Forst. "He is a high-contact hitter. He plays good defense. He has an outstanding makeup. We like him."

Position players report

Everyone is in Mesa for position player reporting day, the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser reports at the Drumbeat blog, with the first full workout on Wednesday. Only the pitchers rehabbing from Tommy John surgery are throwing today.

The A's will actually play two intrasquad games at the Fitch Park complex on March 1 and 2, Slusser reports from Bob Melvin's morning press gaggle.

Bullpen competition

CSN California's Joe Stiglich writes (video autoplays) that there are two open spots in a seven-man bullpen after Tyler Clippard, Ryan Cook, Fernando Abad, Dan Otero, and Eric O'Flaherty. Speaking with manager Bob Melvin, Stiglich says that there are several competitors for short relief spots including newcomers R.J. Alvarez and Eury De La Rosa, and returners Fernando Rodriguez and Evan Scribner. Drew Pomeranz, in the running for the rotation, may also find himself in a long relief role if others beat him to it.

In an extensive profile of R.J. Alvarez, the Bay Area News Group's John Hickey writes that Alvarez "touched 98 and 99 mph last year on the radar gun." We also learn about Alvarez's love of deep water fishing, growing up and playing in college in North Florida. He hopes he gets an off day in Oakland to go out in the Pacific next year, an opportunity the schedule in San Diego did not allow.

Bob Melvin on the infield configuration

While emphasizing that he expects to continue moving guys around as rest and injury needs require, Bob Melvin dropped in his preliminary ideas for where everyone will play this season.

At shortstop, Marcus Semien is expected to win the shortstop job, "but it won't just be handed to him," Susan Slusser tweets. Eric Sogard and Andy Parrino may also be in the mix as shortstop backups (Slusser). Jane Lee quotes Melvin on Sogard, "Even if he isn't the so-called starter on a particular day, he's still going to get his share of at-bats and contribute."

Ben Zobrist will mostly play at second base, but he will move around during spring training to get reps in (Joe Stiglich, CSN).

First base remains a platoon, with Ike Davis playing against right-handed pitchers while Billy Butler is the designated hitter, and Butler playing some first base against left-handers (Slusser). Presumably, Mark Canha will get chances at first base against left-handers as well if he makes the opening day roster.

Manfred talks about staying in Oakland

Speaking to Susan Slusser, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says, "The A's feel the Coliseum site is the best site, transportation-wise, and we've actually had a number of people look at it and they've all reached the same conclusion." CSN's Ray Ratto (video autoplays) does not think this is anything new.

Minor league catcher Carson Blair

One of the best parts of spring training is the return of Susan Slusser's fantastic player profiles. With at least 25 new players in spring major league camp, she is going to have plenty to write about.

In her profile of catcher Carson Blair, signed on a minor league deal in November and coming from the Boston Red Sox. She speaks to Blair's stepfather, "Fred 'Chicken' Stanley, the longtime Yankees infielder ... and the Giants' farm director."

Marcus Semien's family converts to the Church of Green and Gold

The San Francisco Chronicle's John Shea writes about Marcus Semien's return to the Bay Area. The former Cal and St. Mary's-Berkeley player grew up a Giants fan, says his mother, Tracy White. But she says, "We're all now converted. I tell him, 'Now I only wear green and gold for you.' I'm an A's fan now for sure."

Shea discusses Semien's role on the team with assistant general manager David Forst (shortstop mainly, and will play around the diamond), hitting a home run off Scott Kazmir last September 11 in the A's 1-0 loss against the White Sox, and his upbringing.

News and notes

Other stories from the beat writers in Arizona and around the web:

  • Are the A's exploiting the market for short pitchers?: Fangraphs' Eno Sarris figured out that the A's led the league last year in pitches thrown by pitchers 6-foot tall or shorter, with 50,490. The Giants were second. In last place was the Philadelphia Phillies, with just 15,119 "short" pitches.
  • The Odyssey, if written in terms of A's prospects: Also at Fangraphs, Kiley McDaniel released his epic review of Oakland's farm system, including scouting reports on his top 22 prospects. Carson Cistulli awarded his fringe prospect favorite title to switch-pitcher Pat Venditte.
  • The Reader's Digest version of the Odyssey, if written in terms of A's prospects: Carson Cistulli at Fangraphs identifies "the rookie-eligible players in the A's system who are ready to produce wins at the major-league level in 2015 (regardless of whether they're likely to receive the opportunity to do so)."
  • Jesse Chavez is in the best shape of his life: The 2014 media guide listed Jesse Chavez at 160 pounds, and he tells's Jane Lee he was down to 157 at the end of last season. Chavez is now a whopping 170 pounds using the "making a second peanut butter and jelly sandwich for himself when his daughter wants one" diet and doing "more weight training."
  • Locking down game awareness: In Joe Stiglich's Monday roundup (video autoplays), manager Bob Melvin says the A's catchers will be "going over these game awareness things, and they're specifically centered on the running game." Later, Stiglich notes that pitchers have their strongest returns after their second season back from Tommy John surgery, important for Eric O'Flaherty and Fernando Rodriguez.
  • Dollar Bills Mills: Starting pitcher Brad Mills is back with the A's on a minor-league deal, and he's excited to be back with Oakland. On his experience with the A's last June, Mills tells's Jane Lee, "It was kind of eye-opening to see a clubhouse so relaxed and fun."
  • More on Sean Nolin's sports hernia: Starting pitcher Sean Nolin's sports hernia surgery was three months ago, and the standard recovery time is around 6-8 weeks, Nolin tells John Hickey, "But I guess that's not for athletes." He's throwing from 180 feet on flat ground, so hopefully he won't be too far behind.

I'll have an article later today on Sean Doolittle's loss to Buster Posey in the Face of MLB semifinal, but catch this deal from the A's today for $4 plaza outfield tickets until 4pm, for a Wednesday night game against the Texas Rangers: