Oakland A’s Sunday day off report: A’s may show what they’ve got to offer sooner rather than later this season

April 2, 2017

MLB, Oakland Athletics

Oakland Athletics’ Yonder Alonso slides to score against the San Francisco Giants in the third inning of an exhibition baseball game Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. Alonso scored on a two-run double by Athletic’s Matt Joyce. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Morris Phillips

OAKLAND–The A’s enter Monday’s season opener at the O.co Coliseum against the Angels with this unsettling fact in the back of their collective minds: they haven’t won a game in more than a week, losing their last six exhibition contests and 8 of 9.

Luckily, regular season momentum isn’t always built in spring training.  But for a club that lost 93 games in 2016, scored an American League worst 653 runs, and lost 47 games at home where its offense was its most tepid, a fast start would be a welcome change, and quite obviously, a good sign.

But the A’s schedule doesn’t offer many soft landing spots, especially in the first two months, so whatever the A’s have to do to win, it likely will have to start with playing well.  In the first two months, the A’s play the Angels 10 times, the Twins three times and the Marlins twice.  Other than that, Oakland will  see a steady diet of teams that consider themselves playoff contenders and threats to win the AL pennant. The Mariners, Rangers, Yankees, Indians, Royals, Astros, Tigers and Red Sox comprise 38 of the A’s first 53 games and all eight of those teams figure to be in the mix for the AL postseason.

To counter all those talented clubs, the A’s have to get the most out of their youthful, but promising pitching rotation, their experienced bullpen, and their hopefully improved lineup.  But Sonny Gray, the presumptive ace, will start the season on the disabled list, and Ryan Madson, the guy most likely to earn a closers’ role, didn’t pitch well in the spring.   The A’s starting lineup offers Jed Lowrie, Matt Joyce and Trevor Plouffe as experienced additions, but this is an offense that has to build itself up from scratch based on last year’s inability to score runs.

If the A’s do overcome all the inertia that might be pulling them downward in the AL West standings, a couple of names stand out: Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea and Stephen Vogt.

Graveman made five spring starts, allowing just 13 hits in 19 2/3 innings of work.  He stuck out 16, and issued only three walks.

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