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The Weekly Bernie, 2/27/17: Cactus League action begins for Oakland A’s

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Spring Training is now fully underway, and another pair of Athletics have dropped out of the World Baseball Classic, among other news.

MLB: Oakland Athletics-Media Day Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to The Weekly Bernie! It’s the best dance in the game, so let’s get rolling once more!

  • The A’s played two actual baseball games last weekend! Cactus League action got underway as Oakland took on the Cubs (lost 4-3) and the Angels (lost 5-3). But forget the scores (they don’t matter in spring!) and click those links to have a look at which A’s turned in standout performances. (Note: There were dingers.)
  • A pair of Oakland righties will no longer be participating in the World Baseball Classic. First, Australian reliever Liam Hendriks has opted out of the event, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Hendriks has stated that he just doesn’t feel ready yet, and he doesn’t want to jeopardize his future with the A’s or his career. The long flights to and from Japan were also a factor in his decision. He may return to Team Australia if they advance to Round 2. For more on Hendriks, be sure to read Slusser’s piece.
  • Next, on Sunday morning it was announced that Sonny Gray would not be eligible to pitch for Team USA in the Classic, also per Slusser. This is because he was denied insurance coverage due to his injury-ridden 2016, and players are not allowed to participate without coverage. MLB even pushed for the carrier to make an exception for Gray, but the carrier refused. For more, check out Slusser’s article.
  • MLB has now changed the traditional intentional walk to a dugout signal. While this is far from an earth-shaking change, it has generally been received negatively, as fans will miss the crazy moments that can come from errant pitches.
  • The Washington Nationals have officially signed backstop Matt Wieters to a two year, $21 million deal with an opt out after the first year. Wieters spent quite a long time on the market after a bit of a lackluster 2016 in Baltimore. However, the switch-hitter should at least be a reliable two-win catcher and give the Nationals a bit more depth. This could allow the club to move another catcher, possibly even former Athletic Derek Norris.
  • The Chicago Cubs have extended right-handed reliever Pedro Strop through 2018, with a 2019 team option. He will earn $5.85 million in 2018, and the 2019 option will be worth $6.25 million. Strop has been excellent for the Cubs, posting an ERA under three each of the past three seasons and striking out well over a batter per inning. He should continue to be a top tier set-up man in Chicago for the next few seasons.

That’s all for this week. The Oakland Athletics take on the San Francisco Giants this afternoon at 12:05 PM PST. Kendall Graveman will get the start against former Athletic Jeff Samardzija. If you’d like to listen, you can suffer through KNBR - otherwise, you can settle for Twitter and Gameday.

Feel free to dump any links in the comments below. Until next time - lean on, A’s fans!