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.
“I’ve been to several of those over the years, but I can’t remember a time when there was actually talent involved,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Usually, it’s more of laughing and booing somebody off the stage. This was a very talented group, each and every guy.”
Infielder Jake Elmore was the winner, as judged by several veteran players, after performing a series of songs in different genres – country, rap and pop – with corresponding headwear.
Catcher Stephen Vogt, an early favorite after word spread of his ability to impersonate manager Joe Maddon and others while in the Tampa Bay organization, placed second, and shortstop prospect Addison Russell came in third with a dance routine that included a standing backflip.
The flip, especially from a player as prized as Russell, was “a little unexpected,” Melvin said. “Maybe more so to the training staff. But he pulled it off pretty easily.”
Other acts reportedly included pitcher Andrew Werner performing a song about second baseman Eric Sogard, outfield prospect Billy Burns juggling a series of items, including bats, and right-hander A.J. Griffin playing guitar and singing in Spanish.
The tone was obviously light-hearted, and Melvin said that can be beneficial at this point in spring training with camp near its midpoint and days possibly beginning to run together. For a roster with a handful of new faces, Melvin said, it can be “a bonding type of deal,” too.
The biggest surprise for the manager?
“The singing of Jake Elmore, probably,” Melvin said. “I had no idea that he had that kind of a singing voice, let alone several different genres. So we’ll give him a start tomorrow just for that.”
That last part was probably a joke. But Elmore was in the lineup posted for today’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, playing second base and batting ninth.
“I don’t think they really wanted to watch me play ‘Call of Duty’ in front of everybody,” Straily said. “That probably would’ve been my talent.”
On the mound, Straily said he felt sharper than in his first outing, when he was frustrated by allowing several two-strike hits. Straily walked three but said he was pleased with his fastball command and induced more ground balls than in his debut.
Bumgarner, who is slated to start Opening Day, struck out five and walked two. The 24-year-old left-hander also had a run-scoring single to cap a five-run first inning. Right-hander Kyle Crick, who started for the Future Stars, had a rough outing. He recorded just two outs and was charged with five runs and one hit. He also walked four.
“(If you) try to get him out there (too) early, it’s something that could linger the whole season,” Melvin said.