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Elephant Rumblings: A’s will use Stockton as alternate site in 2021

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MLB news roundup

It might look something like this, with Skye Bolt playing against the Giants camp
Photo credit: Meghan Camino | Stockton Ports

Good morning afternoon, Athletics Nation!

The Oakland A’s initially hoped to use Stockton for their alternate site camp last summer during the coronavirus pandemic, but they settled on San Jose instead due to factors including spikes in case rates. This year they’ll get their chance in Stockton after all.

The A’s will use Banner Island Ballpark as their alternate training site in 2021, the team announced Saturday. The park is home to the Low-A Ports, who have been an A’s minor league affiliate since 2005.

Stockton’s park is only 66 miles from the Coliseum, which is slightly farther away than Excite Ballpark in San Jose but still close enough to make it a convenient location geographically. And of course, precise mileage can mean different things in terms of travel time depending on which Bay Area highways you’re driving on.

It remains to be seen exactly how the alternate sites will be used this season. In April they might look much like they did last year, with 40-man roster backups staying warm for callups and top prospects getting reps, since the minor league season doesn’t begin until May. Lindsey Adler of The Athletic reported one crucial new change earlier this month, that “clubs will be allowed to set up what amount to Triple-A exhibition games against other alternate sites at their discretion” in April with league approval. In May and beyond, with the minors back in season, we’ll see.

For now, we can say for sure that the A’s alt site will be at the Stockton Ports’ ballpark, and players will begin reporting there on March 29 after MLB camp breaks, adds Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle. The regular season taxi squad that travels with the team on road trips will be up to five players including a catcher.

In related news, here’s the latest on the A’s 40-man roster, which said goodbye to one player over the weekend.

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