OAKLAND Center fielder Coco Crisp strutted back into the Bay Area with puffed-up hair and a retro-style beard. Red-headed right fielder Josh Reddick slicked back his locks and added even more inches to his bushy beard as part of an ongoing competition. General manager Billy Beane still had his hair combed clean but picked "a terrible time," he said, for a sunspot to be removed from his nose.
The A's are back, and with plenty of new looks.
In front of a sellout crowd of more than 10,000 fans at Oracle Arena, players and coaches returned to Oakland for Sunday's FanFest to drum up support before heading to spring training in a few weeks.
After an improbable run to the American League West title last season, attention on the low-budget club could be greater this season. Unlike a year ago, the A's aren't sneaking up on anybody.
"It's better than having no expectations," Beane said.
Players said they started to realize their newfound fame during the offseason.
Reddick spent time at home in southeast Georgia. He bought his first house in Guyton, Ga., and a new English bulldog named Murray after Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.
"Felt like it was right," he joked.
Reddick said people recognized him more no matter where he went, and he even hosted his first charity event a home run derby to support his hometown of Rincon, Ga.
The same applied for several other players, whether they stayed in Northern California or returned home.
All of it was the result of their surprising success.
"We have firm belief we can do it again this year," Reddick said.
Reigning A.L. Manager of the Year Bob Melvin said he wants his players to remember what made them successful last year.
"My job is to get everybody with the right mindset, the right focus, knowing that we have to try to build on last year, create the momentum, understand what we did last year but know that each and every year is separate," Melvin said.
Creating the same clubhouse atmosphere could be tough.
The A's playoff berth came with a payroll of $59.5 million lowest in the majors and 12 rookies. They did it despite significant injuries to their rotation and the loss of Bartolo Colon to a 50-game suspension in August for a positive testosterone test. Oakland re-signed him in November.
Most of the team is back with the notable exceptions of outfielder Jonny Gomes, pitcher Brandon McCarthy and shortstops Cliff Pennington and Stephen Drew.
Gomes and Drew signed with the Boston Red Sox, and McCarthy signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In October, the A's sent Pennington to Arizona in a three-team trade for outfielder Chris Young. Melvin said Young will be part of a five-man rotation including designated hitter with Reddick, Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes and Seth Smith.
Crisp and Reddick, the team's most vocal leaders, said this year's club will have to find its place. Some of the bonding started at FanFest. New Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima said Young taught him his favorite new American idiom: "For real?"
Crisp said some changes might include tweaking the pie-in-the-face celebrations and the "Bernie Lean" dance that became staples last summer.
"Things are going to change up a little bit with our chemistry," Crisp said. "I think that's the main thing. That's what made us so good last year was just our chemistry was perfect pretty much. That's going to be something we're going to have to work on in spring training and figure out our new identity."