Spring Training Game Thread #28 – A’s vs. Dodgers

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Spring Training Game Thread #28 – A’s vs. Dodgers

The A’s travel over to Camelback Ranch (Glendale) this afternoon in a split squad match-up with the Dodgers. It is the only match-up between the two clubs this spring mainly due to the fact that the drive between the two spring training complexes’ in Arizona takes so long (36 miles). Google maps says the trip from Hohokam Park in Mesa to Camelback Ranch in Glendale takes 41 minutes on the I-10, but anyone who has ever driven on the I-10 in Phoenix knows it usually takes a lot longer than that. The I-10/I-17 interchange between Mesa and Glendale is the 40th worst traffic spot in the United States according to researchers.

Oakland commuters can sympathize with the Athletics team bus' slow crawl thru Phoenix today, as Oakland comes in at #46 (I-880 and I-238) and #52 (I-80 at I-580/I-880) on the list of top 100 worst highway traffic spots in the United States. Why do I bring all this up to preview a baseball game? Because, chances are the A’s squad that was selected to travel from Mesa to Camelback today isn’t too happy about having to sit through an hour of one-way traffic to play game #28 of the spring training schedule. Which means our boys in green and gold will come out of the gates swinging the bats with authority today because of their pent up road rage! (Or it could mean we are in for a lethargic afternoon of A’s baseball from a team who just sleepily sat through weekend Phoenix traffic.)

At any rate, whether it is a spring training contest or an inter-league affair, it is always nice to get a win against the Dodgers. Many of us in A’s nation still haven’t gotten over the sting and pain of 1988. It fact it makes me sick even to write the words, "A’s", "Dodgers" and "1988" in the same paragraph.

So let’s quickly move on to the split squad game game, which features a few of the most compelling story lines of the entire spring:

Storyline #1 - Jesse Hahn has his opening day destiny in his own right hand today.

Hahn has experienced 2 solid appearances this spring (March 2nd: 3 innings, 0 runs; March 13th: 4 innings, 0 runs) and 2 sloppy appearances this spring (Feb 25th : 1 2/3, 3 runs; March 19th : 3 innings, 7 runs). The key to Hahn’s success in 2017 will be his sinking fastball, a pitch that typically doesn’t take too kindly to the Arizona desert, so I imagine Bob Melvin and the A’s brain trust is grading Hahn on a curve so far this spring. However, with Raul Alcantara and Andrew Triggs pitching well this week and the potential availability of one Scott Kazmir(?), Hahn needs a good performance today to keep him in the conversation for the coveted 4th and 5th rotation spots in the A’s 2017 rotation.

Storyline #2 - The A’s get to see Rich Hill up close and personal for the first time since last year’s July 31st deadline trade.

The November 2015 signing of Rich Hill by Beane/Forst has to be one of the best pickups in recent A’s history, not only for what Hill contributed last season to the team but also for what the team was able to pick up at the deadline for his services (Montas, Cotton and Grant Holmes). I mean who doesn’t love and root for Rich Hill’s story?The A’s have seen very few left handed starters this spring, so today is a good test for Healy, Canha and the boys to step in against one of the best left handed breaking ball pitchers in baseball (Best of luck Bruce Maxwell).

Storyline #3 - The debut of the 17 year old A’s phenom, "Lazarito"

Lazaro "Lazarito" Armenteros, known in some circles as the "Cuban Bryce Harper" is the 17 year old outfielder from Cuba who the A’s signed last June. At the time of the signing, A’s assistant GM, Dan Feinstein had these glowing words to say about the teenager, "From a physical standpoint, I think [Yoenis] Cespedes is a fairly good comp," said Feinstein. "I don't want to raise the expectations too high, but when I first saw [Lazarito], I saw a young Frank Thomas in him as well. He's probably the most physically imposing young player we've seen in a long time. It's a rare combination of size and strength of a player this young." Excellent CSN Bay Area A's Insider, Joe Stiglich had a great feature about Lazarito last weekend. Lazarito has accompanied the big league team to Camelback today (on loan from the A's minor league camp) and is expected to get in an at-bat or two. The A’s might be following a similar path to what the Dodgers have done with their future star pitcher, Julio Arias, who made his spring training debut three years ago as a 17 year old.

Here is my fearless prediction : Lazarito comes in to pitch hit in the 7th inning and hits the first pitch he sees over the left center field wall. As Saturday Night Live’s Hanz and Franz used to say "Hear me know and believe me later."

A’s Lineup (ss) vs. Dodgers (3/25/2017)
1. Alejandro De Aza (LF) - Hitting .286 this spring as he battles for the 5th outfield spot on opening day roster
2. Adam Rosales (SS) - Recovering from a minor shoulder issue
3. Ryon Healy (1B) - 16 RBI's this spring is tied for 1st (w/Pablo Sandoval) in Major League Baseball
4. Matt Chapman (3B) - Hit a combined 36 HR's in Double AA and Triple AAA in 2016
5. Mark Canha (CF) - Hitting .262 with 5 doubles this spring
6. Bruce Maxwell (C) - Hit only .200 against Left-handed pitchers in 2016 (4 for 20).
7. Ryan Lavarnway (DH) - Hit .444 (8 for 18) in the World Baseball Classic for team Israel
8. Chris Parmelee (RF) - Hitting .367 this spring (11-30, 5 Doubles)
9. Josh Rodriguez (2B) - Has 109 home runs in 11 minor league seasons
P: Jesse Hahn (RHP) 1-1, 7.50 ERA, 3 Starts, 4 Appearances (Spring Stats)

Dodgers Lineup vs. A’s (3/25/2017)
1. Chase Utley (2B)
2. Andrew Toles(LF)
3. Justin Turner (3B)
4. Adrian Gonzalez (1B)
5. Joc Pederson (CF)
6. Yasiel Puig (RF)
7. Bobby Wilson (C)
8. Chris Taylor (SS)
9. Rich Hill (P) *Dodgers have pitchers batting in this game/A's will use DH
P: Rich Hill (LHP) 0-2, 7.27 ERA, 4 Starts (Spring Training Stats)

It should be a great afternoon of baseball and thanks to the split squad, A’s fans get not one but two games to follow. Today’s 1:05pm (PST) game vs. the Dodgers can be listened to on from the Dodgers broadcast audio feed or watched on from the Dodgers cable feed (No Vin Scully anymore, sad). The 1:05pm (PST) game from Hohokam vs. the Reds can be heard on the A’s flagship station, 95.7 FM The Game. So grab multiple devices this afternoon and enjoy this rare opportunity to take in two A’s games at the same time today!