OAKLAND -- It sounds like Ryan Cook’s return to the A’s bullpen is imminent, with manager Bob Melvin saying Cook threw well in a rehab game with Single-A Stockton last night and will likely be in Oakland on Saturday.

OAKLAND -- One thing about Coco Crisp’s power surge last year when he hit a career-high 22 home runs, A’s manager Bob Melvin said, was that "usually they were all within about 10 feet of each other in right field, which means he knows his swing very well."

OAKLAND -- A’s manager Bob Melvin said it’s possible he might not go to new closer Jim Johnson if the A’s have a lead tonight in the ninth inning -- but only because Johnson threw so many pitches (29) in blowing a save opportunity Wednesday night.

OAKLAND -- Two nights after taking the loss in his A’s debut in Monday’s season opener, closer Jim Johnson had another rough night Wednesday, blowing his first save chance of the season by allowing three runs in the ninth inning of the A’s 6-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

The Giants beat the Diamondbacks 2-0 and the A’s split a doubleheader with the Indians 6-1, 4-6.

That his A’s debut Wednesday afternoon came against the team he staged a career renaissance with last season was a bit of irony that did not escape left-hander Scott Kazmir. His former teammates with the Cleveland Indians weren’t going to let it.

Eric Berger knows Raley Field; he watched games at the Triple-A park while growing up in Roseville. He also knows how to pitch, once striking out an area-tying record 20 batters at Woodcreek High School, where he was The Bee’s Player of the Year in 2004.

Pitching will define the River Cats this season, which starts today in Salt Lake City. And if they lose a pitcher or two to the A’s, that’s a measure of success beyond wins and losses.


OAKLAND -- It’ll be right-hander Josh Lindblom starting the second game of today’s doubleheader for the A’s against the Cleveland Indians. Lindblom, who made his only five career big-league starts for the Texas Rangers last season, was 0-2 with a 4.02 ERA this spring with the A’s but saved his best outing for his last, throwing 4 2/3 innings against the Mariners on March 23 and allowing two runs on two hits with three strikeouts.

In his first regular-season game in more than eight months, A’s catcher John Jaso found himself in the middle of a convergence of two of Major League Baseball’s newest rules on one play in Monday night’s season opener.

Jim Johnson straightforwardly acknowledged this was not how he wanted his A’s career and his 2014 season to start. Not with allowing two runs in the ninth inning of a scoreless game and taking the loss in the A’s opener, then departing to scattered but still very audible boos from an announced sellout crowd at the O.co Coliseum.

Before Monday, the A’s had taken the field on Opening Day behind eight different starting pitchers in the previous nine seasons with one common result: a loss.

How many times is a 400-foot single a symbol of a bad night at the office? It was Monday as they A’s dropped a historic season opener the Cleveland Indians 2-0 – a night of inspiration and futility distilled down to one star-crossed swing.

Stephen Vogt doesn’t want to be here, but he is. And the 29-year-old catcher will make the best of his return to the River Cats after getting squeezed out in a numbers game with the A’s because attitude and class define his character.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said this afternoon that forecasts called for a break in the rain between 5 and 9 p.m. Lo and behold, right around 5:30 p.m., the sun broke through and we’re currently looking at blue skies (with some clouds) over O.co Coliseum, where the grounds crew just pulled the tarp off the infield.

Even now, with the benefit of a winter to reflect – or distance himself – pitching coach Dave Righetti has trouble pinpointing just what happened to the Giants’ vaunted starting rotation in 2013.

Jesse Chavez, who as the long man in the A's bullpen last season recorded a career-best ERA while turning 30 and pitching for his fifth major-league team, attributes much of his late emergence to "just being comfortable in a clubhouse ... where everyone gets along."

While he enjoyed playing at AT&T Park on opposing teams in past years, Michael Morse said there was one thing that puzzled him. “We’d be freezing in the dugout and look over and the Giants – they’re not even wearing sleeves,” he said. “Some of the guys said it’s something you get used to.”

Any question of how Jim Johnson would fit in with his new teammates in Oakland was likely answered midway through spring training – by the closer’s organizational skills.

Finalizing the A’s Opening Day roster on Saturday included what manager Bob Melvin termed “maybe the most difficult (cut) I’ve ever had to do” – telling catcher Stephen Vogt he’d been sent to Triple A.

2013: 96-66, won American League West

2013: 76-86, tied for third place in National League West

OAKLAND -- Finalizing the A’s opening day roster on Saturday included what manager Bob Melvin termed "maybe the most difficult (cut) I’ve ever had to do" -- telling catcher Stephen Vogt he’d been sent to Triple-A.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Hicks walked into the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park on Thursday to find his name above a locker directly in between those of fellow bearded infielders Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Despite leaving Arizona without their projected Opening Day second baseman Marco Scutaro and key reliever Jeremy Affeldt, the Giants had felt fortunate to have their starting rotation get through spring training intact.

SAN FRANCISCO -- With Marco Scutaro expected to start the season on the DL due to his ailing back, Giants manager Bruce Bochy today laid out his plan for how he’ll handle the No. 2 spot in the order to start the season.

OAKLAND -- Scott Kazmir offered this succinct self-evaluation after holding the Giants to no runs on two hits over 5 1/3 innings in his final spring training outing Thursday night at AT&T Park:

A’s owner Lew Wolff wants to relocate the team to San Jose, but he realizes this may never happen with the Giants holding tight onto their South Bay territorial rights.

Oakland A’s right-hander and projected Opening Day starter Jarrod Parker will undergo Tommy John surgery next week and likely miss the entire 2014 season, the team announced today.

PHOENIX -- With two and a half weeks left before the A’s open their season against the Cleveland Indians on March 31, time would seem to be running out on the possibility of set-up man Ryan Cook starting the year on the 25-man roster.

Though both spent significant time in Oakland last season, A’s catcher John Jaso had never caught right-hander Sonny Gray in a game until March 6. By the time Gray arrived in Oakland in 2013, after a rapid rise through the A’s system, Jaso had been sidelined for the season by concussion symptoms.

Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro took live batting practice for the first time this spring and participated in team fielding drills Wednesday. But while Scutaro said he’s seeing improvement in his ailing back, he wasn’t ready to declare if he’ll be available on Opening Day.

About the time he was 8 or 9 years old, Giants infielder Ehire Adrianza said, his father began taking him to a baseball park near his home in Venezuela for a few hours each day.

SCOTTSDALE - Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro took live batting practice for the first time this spring and participated in team fielding drills Wednesday. But although Scutaro said his ailing back is improving, he wasn’t ready to declare he’ll be available for the Giants on Opening Day.

As Hiro Nakajima bounded through the A’s clubhouse Tuesday collecting gear for the team’s away game in Peoria, Ariz., he stopped at Josh Donaldson’s locker to greet the third baseman. Donaldson slapped Nakajima’s hand – then wrapped him in a hug.

Though Oakland first baseman Brandon Moss figures the threat of his bunting will makes defenses stop shifting to the right against him, don’t expect him to make it routine.

PEORIA -- Sonny Gray last season was the kind of pitcher to respond to an occasion (his ALDS duels with Justin Verlander the most obvious examples). It’s a little different when the occasion is a spring training start in which he’s working more on developing pitches than getting outs, as was the case in his last outing March 6 against the Diamondbacks.

If there was ever a baseball purgatory, Barry Lamar Bonds had a 61/2-year lease on a one-bedroom, one-bath duplex in it.

New special instructor Barry Bonds wasted little time getting involved on his first day in camp, hovering around the cage while the Giants took batting practice Monday morning and holding brief conversations with a few players.

Barry Bonds said he wasn’t sure after the last game of the 2007 season – the final out of which effectively marked the end of his 22-year major-league career – whether he would ever again put on a Giants uniform.

As one of the rare current Giants who was around when Barry Bonds played his last season in 2007, right-hander Matt Cain had an idea what to expect when Bonds returned Monday as a special instructor in camp.

Barry Bonds held a 25-minute session with reporters Monday morning upon his arrival for a week as a special instructor in the San Francisco Giants’ spring training camp. The story can be found here, but for a more complete picture of the topics covered in Bonds’ news conference, the following is a partial transcript of the conference:

Asked what makes Billy Burns, the outfield prospect who has run rampant in the Cactus League in his first big-league camp, an effective base-stealer, A’s manager Bob Melvin said: “It starts with speed, but he seems to be at top speed in two steps.”

The A’s clubhouse talent show, organized by new closer Jim Johnson, was held Sunday morning at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. It was closed to media, but by most accounts, if the baseball thing doesn’t work out, much of the A’s roster won’t be lacking for career opportunities.

While much of the talk around A’s camp today focused on the talent show organized by new closer Jim Johnson (which revealed some serious talents -- more on that later), one player who chose to take the option given to all players with more than a year of service time and buy out of the show was righty Dan Straily, who started Sunday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.

Sergio Romo’s rough outing in the Giants’ 18-3 loss to the Mariners on Saturday -- he faced five hitters and retired none of them, allowing three hits and two walks, including one with the bases loaded -- was the latest in what has so far been a rocky spring for the Giants closer.

Every six months or so, Nelson Cooper, an associate professor in the recreation and park management program at East Carolina University, has come to expect a phone or Facebook message from one of his former students, Mark Minicozzi.

After the Giants’ season ended last Sept. 29, outfielder Gregor Blanco decided he needed to treat the offseason differently than in years past. So he worked out almost daily near his Miami home and spent a lot of time with his family.

SCOTTSDALE -- Not one to let a bad outing roll lightly off his back, Ryan Vogelsong said he fully intends to "analyze and fix" after being tagged by the Seattle Mariners for six hits and seven runs (five earned) in his Cactus League start Saturday.

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