Runners can expect green light early on

Published: Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3C
Last Modified: Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 - 7:48 pm

PHOENIX – The A's stole 122 bases last year and have finished in the top half of American League teams in steals every year since 2009.

So when Cactus League games start Saturday, manager Bob Melvin will let most of the faster members of his crew run. He wants to see how newcomers such as Jed Lowrie and Hiroyuki Nakajima get jumps and how they will fit into the mix.

Lowrie doesn't have a history as a base thief, but Nakajima had 20 or more steals in three of his past five Japanese League seasons. Also to be added to the mix is outfielder Chris Young, whom Melvin knows from their time together with the Arizona Diamondbacks and has 20-plus steals in three of the past six seasons.

"We're going to look to run," Melvin said. "It's a misconception that we won't. We ran a lot early last year when we were struggling, then backed off a little when we started scoring a lot more, but it's something we want to do.

"We'll give guys the 'go' sign this spring and see what happens."

Norberto not talking – His name came up Tuesday in connection with the expanding investigation into Miami-based Biogenesis, but A's pitcher Jordan Norberto decided against addressing the matter Wednesday.

Norberto was among five players named Tuesday in connection to Biogenesis and its boss, Tony Bosch. They included San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Houston Astros outfielder Fernando Martinez and former A's pitcher Fautino De Los Santos, who is now with the Padres.

Bosch is alleged to have supplied performance-enhancing drugs to a number of big-league players, including Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees and former Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, now with Toronto.

Pitcher Bartolo Colon of the A's, who is in the midst of a 50-game suspension after a positive test for testosterone, also has been linked by published reports to Biogenesis.

First three exhibition starters set – Jesse Chavez, Travis Blackley and Andrew Werner will get the first three starts of the Cactus League for the A's.

Most of the big names in the A's pitching arsenal are being held back a bit this spring because of the heavy workload they went through last year.

Blackley had 15 starts last season but is looked at as a long shot for the rotation. He could be a long reliever and emergency starter. He is likely to make the staff.

Chavez, who had four appearances with Oakland last season, and Werner, who pitched briefly for the Padres before being picked up by the A's in the Tyson Ross trade in November, are long shots to make the staff.

Rain washes out workout – After holding players in the clubhouse for about an hour while it rained, the A's gave up on having a full workout and dismissed all but a handful of pitchers and catchers Wednesday morning.

Those pitchers who remained, including left-hander Garrett Olson, were able to throw off covered mounds at the minor-league complex at Papago Park. Olson had been held out of action because of a sore right hamstring.

Balfour goes backward – Closer Grant Balfour added to his workout again Wednesday, running backward at a steep incline on the treadmill. He is pushing himself to get back on the mound quickly after having arthroscopic surgery to remove a bit of meniscus from his right knee.

Two-year deal for A's on KHTK

A's fans in Sacramento will be able listen to more games this season with Wednesday's announcement that the club has reached a multiyear contract with KHTK (1140 AM).

KHTK, a 50,000-watt station owned by CBS Radio, will broadcast 10 exhibition games from Arizona and 157 of 162 regular-season games, beginning with the A's Cactus League opener Saturday at 12:05 p.m. against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The contract between the A's and KHTK is for two years, the team confirmed. The A's are the major-league affiliate for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats

Because of conflicts with Kings games, KHTK won't broadcast A's games April 3 against the Seattle Mariners and April 10 against the Los Angeles Angels. An April 5 game against the Houston Astros, a 5:10 p.m. start, will be broadcast only until the Kings' pregame show begins. Games April 12 against the Detroit Tigers and April 15 against the Astros will be joined in progress after Kings games.

KAHI (950 AM), based in Auburn, will continue to broadcast A's games as it has since the team moved to Oakland in 1968. KAHI primarily serves the foothills and typically can be heard in Sacramento only at night.

– Bee Sports staff

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