OAKLAND As the A's took batting practice before Game 5 of the American League Division Series, River Cats manager Darren Bush stood near the cage with a fungo bat, hitting grounders to a few infielders.
Brought in as an extra coach after the Triple-A season, Bush was along for the ride as the A's won the A.L. West and went into the playoffs with a roster featuring a sizable contingent of players he managed this year.
"It's been a lot of fun," Bush said. "I'm having fun watching these guys. A lot of guys here came up through our system, and we had fun watching them."
Ten members of the A's ALDS roster spent at least part of the season playing for Bush in Sacramento. Thursday night, with the A's in a winner-take-all game against the Detroit Tigers, that included their starting battery (Jarrod Parker and Derek Norris), corner infielders (Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson), two bench players and four pitchers in their bullpen.
"It's rewarding for our entire staff and organization," Bush said. "Everybody's played a part. And being able to watch them succeed, that's what you want."
Since he wasn't allowed in the dugout during games, Bush watched the A's mount their ninth-inning rally in Game 4 from under the stands behind the plate a three-run inning that included a crucial double from Donaldson, who has played for Bush in Class-A Stockton, Double-A Midland and Sacramento in the Oakland farm system.
Bush's duties while with the A's?
"Just whatever they want me to do," he said. "Throw BP, hit fungoes. Whatever they ask me to do, I'm doing."
Open up The A's announced before Thursday's game that if they were to move on to the A.L. Championship Series, they would remove the tarps covering the west side of the upper deck of O.co Coliseum to add 11,698 seats, priced at $55 each, for ALCS home games.
Opening those seats would bring the capacity to 47,505. The A's sold out all three home games of the ALDS against the Tigers while generating some controversy by opting not to remove the tarps.
"This has been a sensational year for the Athletics and for our fans," owner and managing partner Lew Wolff said in a statement. "We are thrilled with the tremendous outpouring of fan support."
Et cetera The A's promised they wouldn't put extra pressure on themselves before the decisive Game 5. For several position players, that meant playing catch with a football before starting their pregame stretching routine.
Donaldson, a two-sport standout in high school in Alabama, was in the middle of it. Moss overshot Josh Reddick on a deep ball and explained, "Sorry, I'm not a quarterback." Pitcher Brandon McCarthy, an LSU football fan according to his Twitter page, throws a tight spiral.
Oakland native and former A's bat boy Stanley Burrell, better known as recording artist MC Hammer, threw the ceremonial first pitch.