Mesa, Arizona native Brad Mills will start the Oakland Athletics season opener and Hohokam Stadium inaugural, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Mills was eager to return to the A's for the 2015 season, raving about his brief time starting for Oakland, ""I told my wife that my time with the A's last year was the most fun three weeks of baseball I've ever played."
In other news:
Situational hitting championship awarded
The game? Situational hitting. The prize? The MC Hammer Situational Hitting Championship Trophy:
Athletics hitters worked on situational hitting today instead of taking batting practice. The A's split the squad into four teams, writes CSN's Joe Stiglich. Both Billy Butler and Ike Davis were perfect in their drills, Susan Slusser reports, but Butler's team, which included Josh Reddick, won the grand prize:
A proud moment for the Butler-Reddick team: pic.twitter.com/jUQgfcUGo2— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) February 27, 2015
Butler displayed the trophy over his locker Friday:
Billy Butler/Josh Reddick "trophy" for winning situational hitting contest. "We're going to add to it," says Butler. pic.twitter.com/6JlYuvg4e3— Carl Steward (@stewardsfolly) February 27, 2015
Besides working on an area which was heartbreaking to fans last year -- "As a team, the A's hit .241 with two outs and runners in scoring position last season, which was just one of the many scenarios the team worked on Friday," writes MLB.com's William Boor -- the competition also served as a camarderie-building exercise. Melvin told Boor, "You do these types of things for a number of reasons. There always seems to be good banter going back and forth and that's never a bad thing."
Coco's Fro Patrol
Coco Crisp debuted Coco's Fro Patrol, a game for the iPhone. The game's tagline, "Catch balls with an afro," is pretty much the object of the game. You control Coco, who is trying to collect baseballs falling from the sky into his hair while avoiding bubble gum bubbles that freeze him in place, bits of garbage that slow the player's progress, and the dreaded scissors that award the player a strike (pictured). Three strikes and the game is over.
I have so far been able to reach the 30th inning, though dragging one's finger on the phone becomes tiring after awhile. Still, it is a fun diversion, and it is free to download. There are in-app purchases available, such as different background environments and "umpires" that permit the player to start at a more advanced level and so move up the "most innings completed" leaderboard. One can also use the baseballs collected as currency for different outfits for Coco.
Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, "Crisp came up with the design - a cartoon character based on him, with a huge afro, dodging things like scissor and baseballs. The games was developed by MEDL Mobile and Crazy Cove."
A's will continue broadcasting games on flagship 95.7 the Game through 2018
A's flagship station 95.7 The Game announced that it has extended its agreement to broadcast all regular season and select spring training games on KGMZ through 2018. As newballpark.org's Marine Layer points out, there was little drama in the extension, with 95.7 continuing to broadcast from A's Fanfest prior to the official renewal of the deal.
The first game on 95.7 will be the Saturday, March 7 spring game against the Los Angeles Angels at 12:05 pm Pacific Time.
More news and notes
The other stories of the day from Mesa and around the web:
Bay Area News Group
- John Hickey says "Oakland is banking heavily on starting pitchers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin returning from Tommy John surgery before too much time has passed." In addition to Parker and Griffin, he interviews Eric O'Flaherty, Fernando Rodriguez, Dan Otero, and Jesse Hahn about their own returns from the surgery.
- In his Friday notes column, John Hickey says that non-roster invitee Jason Pridie "figures to get plenty of spring starts with the A's looking to have Coco Crisp ease slowly into playing shape." A lot of the infield depth will try the outfield as well, with Hickey naming Tyler Ladendorf, Alden Carrithers, Matt Olson, and Andy Parrino.
- Tim Kawakami interviewed Billy Beane for a half hour on his new podcast, the TK Show.
- Elliott Almond reports from the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Avaya Stadium, the new home for Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes. A's and Earthquakes owner John Fisher said, "We're doing some work to the Coliseum to try and improve it, but obviously we need a new facility for the baseball team as well."
- Joe Stiglich presses the angle that the team will take it easy on Coco Crisp in spring training, with Bob Melvin saying Crisp will only need to be in the "outfield for nine innings a couple times." Makes me wonder the team is more concerned about wasting healthy innings in the outfield on exhibitions. We won't find out from Crisp himself, who has a longstanding policy of not discussing injuries.
- Stiglich also notes that "Melvin will use the Cactus League schedule to hash out the order for his late-inning relievers. ... Expect lefty Eric O'Flaherty to play a more prominent role in this year's bullpen as he begins his first healthy full season after Tommy John surgery."
- The A's moved up their intrasquad games to Saturday and Sunday, with a 90% chance of rain in the forecast for Monday.
- Brodie Brazil sat down with manager Bob Melvin for about a half hour on his podcast, "The Bro Show." You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes as well.
San Francisco Chronicle
- At the end of her story on Brad Mills starting Tuesday's Cactus League opener, Susan Slusser adds that Josh Phegley's "wife, Jessica, is expecting their first child any day."
- William Boor writes that Matt Olson is fully recovered from the "grade three tear of the AC joint in his right shoulder" he suffered during the Arizona Fall League. He will be able to participate fully in spring camp.
- The A's sent a birthday care package to a 78-year-old fan facing terminal cancer, Boor writes.