Welcome back to The Weekly Bernie! It’s the best dance in the game, so let’s get rolling once more!
- The Oakland A’s originally had five big leaguers accept invitations to play for five different teams in the World Baseball Classic: Khris Davis (Mexico), Sonny Gray (USA), Liam Hendriks (Australia), John Axford (Canada), and Santiago Casilla (Dominican Republic). Since, each of the five has either withdrawn from the tournament or been disqualified for various reasons. Most recently, Axford opted out in favor of focusing on the season ahead of him (per Jane Lee of MLB.com).
- Casilla will not be taking part in the first round of the Classic due to visa complications that kept him from arriving at Athletics camp until Sunday (per John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group). Casilla, however, does remain a possibility for the second round.
- The first game of the Classic took place at 1:30 AM PST today between Team Korea and Team Israel (featuring old friends Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, and Ike Davis, as well as current A’s minor leaguers Joey Wagman and Ryan Lavarnway).
- Outfielder Jake Smolinski made his Cactus League debut on Sunday, after being held back by a shoulder injury. He played DH as he eased back into action.
- The Athletics reassigned seven pitchers to minor league camp Sunday. The pitchers are Michael Brady, Tucker Healy, Heath Fillmyer, Josh Smith, Trey Cochran-Gill, Aaron Kurcz, and A.J. Puk. The most notable of the bunch are: Healy, who gets lots of strikeouts and could see time in the bullpen this year; Fillmyer, who ranked 22nd on our own top prospects list; and Puk, who was the club’s first round pick in 2016 and is one of the best young left-handed pitching prospects in the game.
- The A’s played the Giants twice last week in the Cactus League, and Oakland won both games. (Recaps: Monday, Friday)
- The White Sox have released former Athletics infielder Brett Lawrie, the team announced. Lawrie has been a subpar player ever since being sent to Oakland in the infamous Josh Donaldson deal. However, Jim Bowden of ESPN reports that the Rays, Royals, Mets, and Blue Jays have all shown interest in Lawrie. He will likely find a new home before Spring Training has ended.
- The Washington Nationals have signed reliever Joe Blanton to a one year, $4 million contract. The righty has come a long way since his days as a starter in Oakland and has actually become a very quality reliever over the past two seasons. It was somewhat surprising that he was still available for such a low price, but his age (36) and lack of a track record probably helped. Still, he’ll be a reliable presence for a somewhat-weak Nationals bullpen.
- And finally, MLB announced some new rule changes for 2017 (see tweet below). You probably already know about the no-pitch intentional walk, but here’s a list of some other minor changes. They are mostly reasonable streamlines to the replay review system (Bob Melvin’s response, per Joe Stiglich of CSN), plus what is essentially a Carter Capps Rule:
MLB & the MLBPA today jointly announced a series of modifications that have been approved and will be in place in the 2017 regular season: pic.twitter.com/IjVboUSCGd— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) March 2, 2017
That’s all for this week. Unfortunately, the A’s are off today, but they do take on the Diamondbacks on Tuesday at 12:10 PST. Feel free to dump any links in the comments below. Until next time - lean on, A’s fans!