‘Noth­ing was said’: A’s play­ers, man­ager re­act to Hous­ton press con­fer­ence

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - SPORTS - By Shayna Ru­bin

Base­ball was watch­ing the Hous­ton Astros’ quasi­apol­ogy press con­fer­ence held in West Palm Beach on Thurs­day morn­ing.

Alex Breg­man, Jose Al­tuve, new man­ager Dusty Baker and owner Jim Crane gave short ad­dresses re­gard­ing the sign-steal­ing scan­dal from the podium, which didn’t sit right with the A’s.

“Noth­ing was said,” Sean Manaea said. “They skated on by and haven’t taken re­spon­si­bil­ity for their ac­tions.”

Manaea was re­spond­ing to the group’s tepid ac­knowl­edg­ment of

their wrong­do­ing.

“I am re­ally sorry about the choices that were made by my team, by the or­ga­ni­za­tion and by me,” Breg­man said to re­porters

in Florida. “I have learned from this, and I hope to re­gain the trust of base­ball fans.”

“I want to say that the whole Astros or­ga­ni­za­tion and the team feels bad about what hap­pened in 2017,” Al­tuve said at the podium. “We feel re­morse for the im­pact on our fans and the game of base­ball.”

“At that meet­ing last night, the play­ers showed tremen­dous re­morse, sor­row and em­bar­rass­ment for their fam­i­lies, or­ga­ni­za­tion, city of Hous­ton and base­ball,” Baker said. “I want to ask for the base­ball world to forgive them for the mis­takes they made.”

“We broke the rules. You can phrase that any way you want,” Crane said.

But, back in the club­house, some of the Astros play­ers opened up a bit more.

“I caught the press con­fer­ence, which I thought might’ve been a lit­tle short on re­morse,” man­ager Bob Melvin said. “But I heard once they got into the club­house it was a lot dif­fer­ent theme.”

Astros’ in­fielder Car­los Cor­rea was the first from that World Series team to ac­knowl­edge the method in which his team cheated, telling re­porters that “the trash can was there” and that the cheat­ing method be­came more dif­fi­cult to ex­e­cute into the post­sea­son. Teams who had sus­pected wrong­do­ing were forced to switch signs on a con­stant ba­sis in-game.

The A’s have made clear that their AL West ri­val’s cheat­ing was ob­vi­ous to them for years.

“Just felt dif­fer­ent at their place,” Melvin said at me­dia day in Jan­uary. “Just like any team, we had some sus­pi­cions for a cou­ple years, then Mike (Fiers) came over to us. You look at the games there and you see guys giv­ing mul­ti­ple signs with no one on base, it’s a dead give­away.”

This scan­dal’s cloud con­tin­ues to hover over spring training on the East and West coasts, and it could hover well into the sea­son. THURS­DAY'S DRAW >> The pitch­ing draw, a good chunk of the fu­ture, and some key bullpen arms, would be lin­ing up on the bullpen lines to­gether.

Jesús Luzardo, Manaea, Frankie Mon­tas, Liam Hen­driks and Jake Diek­man threw bullpen ses­sions.

“Luzardo couldn’t wait to get on the mound,” Melvin said af­ter. Bear with is as we dis­cuss Luzardo ad nau­seam this spring and be­yond, but the elite arm’s

progress and quick ma­tu­rity must be noted. Re­mem­ber that he had a 1.50 ERA and 16 strike­outs in 12 in­nings last Septem­ber, out of the bullpen and out of his typ­i­cal rou­tine.

“I think it was huge for him, and to not only per­form at the level he did, but per­form at the level he did with as much that was at stake for us in a role that he wasn’t ac­cus­tomed to,” Melvin said, not­ing that his in­nate abil­ity to calm nerves and ad­just in those sit­u­a­tions bode well for him. “He’ll hit the ground run­ning pretty good.”

Melvin, af­ter the work­outs, made a point of not­ing Manaea’s slider — an important el­e­ment in gar­ner­ing swings and misses for him. He’s clearly spun the neg­a­tiv­ity he felt af­ter the Wild Card loss and man­aged to take an ob­jec­tive mo­ment to build off the low points.

“Very rarely do you see guys pitch at 91 and look like power pitch­ers, be­cause there’s such de­cep­tion in his de­liv­ery and

there’s such a gap be­tween his fast­ball and changeup,” Melvin said. “He gets a ton of swings and misses. Doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to be at 95 mph.”

THE REAL DRAW AND THE NEW RULE >> For­get the big guns, Melvin was far more in­ter­ested in the last round of pitch­ers set to take the mounds — non-ros­ter in­vites Jaime Schultz, Jor­dan Weems, Ian Gardeck and Lu­cas Luetge.

“Noah Syn­der­gaard over here on the left, he looks like he’s throw­ing about 100 and has a lot of plane to it too,” Melvin said, re­fer­ring to Weems and his long blonde hair.

Melvin said he liked what he saw from Gardeck — “good arm, good move­ment and ve­loc­ity.”

Melvin and his team of coaches will have a some­what dif­fer­ent ap­proach to iden­ti­fy­ing pro­duc­tive re­liev­ers this year with news that MLB passed the threebatte­r rule.

“I knew it was com­ing, I just didn’t know it was com­ing in spring training,” Melvin said. “You worry that a guy who doesn’t have com­mand, throw­ing ‘X’ amount of pitches. I’m a lit­tle bit more con­cerned about that than I am dur­ing the sea­son.”

The A’s, like many teams, like the op­tion to uti­lize a bullpen matchup by matchup. This rule should shave min­utes off games, but now re­liev­ers’ value who can get both lefthanded and right-handed hit­ters out will rise in stock — it’s cer­tainly what Melvin and the coaches will be pri­or­i­tiz­ing (and a big rea­son Diek­man was re-signed).


The A’s Mike Fiers runs a drill dur­ing spring training prac­tice on Thurs­day in Mesa, Ariz.

The A’s Sean Manaea, front, leads a group of pitch­ers dur­ing spring training prac­tice on Thurs­day in Mesa, Ariz.

Manaea: A’s pitcher fol­low­ing Astros’ press con­fer­ence: “They skated on by and haven’t taken re­spon­si­bil­ity for their ac­tions.”


The A’s Je­sus Luzardo throws dur­ing spring training prac­tice on Thurs­day in Mesa, Ariz.

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