Extended Spring Update: A’s vs. Giants

(Originally published 05/12/15 on OaklandClubhouse.com)


MESA – The Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants squared off in a Mesa version of the Bay Bridge Series. Kimberly Contreras brings us the action from Tuesday’s extended spring game.

Checking in from Fitch on Tuesday with the A’s squaring off versus the Giants. Good to see Ruben Escalera back from his scouting stint in… Puerto Rico? I believe. He’ll be at Fitch throughout the summer as the manager of the rookie AZL Athletics. Weather was in the 90s but with cloud cover. I’m sure the boys appreciate not having the sun beating down on them throughout the game.

I caught up with Branden Kelliher, who’s doing great; saw Jeff Urlaub and Tanner Peterstaking in the game. I did not see Heath Fillmyer (elbow strain), but look forward to catching up with him soon.

There were no rehabbers for the A’s in Tuesday’s game. Dustin Driver started and went five full innings. At the end of five, he looked as good and strong as if it were his second inning. I had to think, and then dig through my old notes to confirm that this outing was the longest for him, at least when I’ve been in attendance. Even if I didn’t know what a wonderful, polite, respectful young man he is, I would adore him… but I would not like to stand in the batters’ box and face him. Mid- to upper-90s on his fastball, plus he’s a smart young man. The complete package.

The 6th through 9th innings belonged to: RHP Jesus Rivas, RHP Lee Sosa, LHP Tyler Painton and LHP Victor Veliz. While the other three have substantial experience within the organization, Painton was signed by A’s Pacific Northwest scout Jim Coffman in 2014 out ofOregon State (by way of Bakersfield, CA.) Tyler’s father is the head baseball coach at Bakersfield College.

Catchers for the day: Iolana Akau and Robert Mullen. Birthday boy, Seongmin Kim, was in the bullpen. Both backstops were aggressive with their snaps to first base, and to second to stop would-be base-stealers.

Infielders for the day: Miguel Mercedes, Gabriel Santana, Eric Marinez (who Trace Loehrlater replaced), Carlos Hiciano at SS, and Jean Carlo Rodriguez at third.

The outfield for the day: Vicmal De La Cruz in left, Rodolfo Peñalo in center, and Jhonny Rodriguez in right. But in all honesty, Rodriguez’s true position is HITTER. Or, more specifically, BOMB HITTER. He hit another one today and although we don’t keep track in Extended Spring, let’s say this 18-year-old has had a few home runs this extended spring training. As I’ve said in the past, the ball just sounds different coming off his bat; you can feel it in your chest. You know it’s gone. All that being said: he’s still green…

As I’ve stated several times before, Extended Spring teams are comprised of different players who are on the roster for different reasons. For those of us who are around on a consistent basis, we have a feeling for how each organization works and who we will see when we cover the respective teams. We also usually know the names of the players and pitchers. The Giants team is generally no exception. But after today’s game, I had to do some research on most of the players I saw. Many of them with a story like RHP Kirk Singer, C Adam Sonabend and RHP Ray Black.

Dirtbag Kirk Singer was drafted out of Long Beach State by the Pirates in the 29th round in 2011 as a shortstop. Then in 2012, with Pirates #1 pick Jamieson Tallion as his mentor, Singer converted to being an pitcher. The Giants signed Singer in April 2014 right after he was released by the Pirates. He spent the 2014 season in the Northwest League, with Salem-Kaiser.

Giants catcher Adam Sonabend lives in Scottsdale, AZ, went to Mesa Community College and then transferred to Eastern Michigan University. He wasn’t drafted, but in October 2014, signed as a free agent with the Giants. A key moment from today’s game came when Oakland’s shortstop, Carlos Hiciano, clipped the home plate umpire twice on the same swing. Sonabend took the time to “visit” with his pitcher so that the umpire could catch his breath and deny offers of assistance by the trainers.

Sonabend also has a connection to one of the Baby A’s: RHP Daniel Gossett. Opening weekend of the 2014 NCAA baseball season, Eastern Michigan faced Clemson and their Friday night starter, Gossett. According to Baseball America: “Eastern Michigan at (13) Clemson: Daniel Gossett (5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) left with a 3-1 lead, but EMU surged ahead with four runs in the sixth against the Clemson bullpen, then scored an unearned run in the 10th to win 6-5. Adam Sonabend had two RBIs to lead the Eastern Michigan offense.”

Ask Keith Law about RHP Ray Black. In March 2014, Law witnessed and then tweeted about the former Pitt Panther hitting triple digits multiple times during a spring training game for the Giants. This comes after missing two complete seasons due to needing and then having labrum surgery. This is the lesser known but quite common shoulder surgery. Unlike the better known Tommy John surgery, this surgery is with the shoulder, and that’s a bit scarier, with a lower rate of success after recovery than Dr. Frank Jobe’s procedure.

Watching Black on the mound today, the fact that his pitches crossed home plate in a real hurry was obvious; the exact velocity was upper-90’s on the few I heard. This type of rebound is impossible to not root for; but it’s easier when it’s not against my Baby A’s.


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