Oakland Athletics Roundup: Sonny Gray Misses Start; Defense Sloppy in Opener

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A’s Defense Sloppy Behind Rich Hill in Home Opener; Sonny Gray Out With Food Poisoning
Oakland Athletics Roundup: Tuesday, April 5

The Oakland Athletics’ Opening Day game didn’t go exactly as planned. Scheduled starter Sonny Gray was a late scratch after being temporarily hospitalized due to food poisoning, forcing veteran Rich Hill to take the mound instead.

Hill went just 2.2 innings, allowing four runs – although only two of those were earned. He struck out three, but walked one and gave up a trio of hits. Hill picked off Adam Eaton in the first inning, but when he tried to do the same to Austin Jackson in the third, he threw the ball away for a two-base error. Mark Canha was charged with an error in the same inning, when shortstop Marcus Semien made a diving grab up the middle, and Canha was unable to reign in the high throw to first base.

The takeaway from this loss is that the Athletics’ defense needs major work. Earlier this week, staff writer Mark Sigmon wrote about Ron Washington‘s impact on the defense, and how it should improve as the season goes on. There’s absolutely truth to that, but the question is whether or not they’ll figure it out in time to make a difference this year, as opposed to next year. One game is hardly the end, but the hard truth about defense is that it’s impossible to win consistently without it. Just as Mark stated in his post, the A’s will get better. It’s important to be patient, rather than reactionary. But if May rolls around and the A’s are still struggling to field the ball cleanly, it may be time for concern.

As far as Hill’s performance, there’s not really a reason to jump on him over this start. Yes, the bullpen was forced to pitch an extraordinary amount of innings, but Hill wasn’t expecting to pitch on Monday, and he would probably have been out of the inning if so many errors had not been made. In addition to his pickoff mistake and Semien’s poor throw that resulted in an error for Canha, Billy Burns also misjudged a ball in the outfield that should have been caught. Hill did a poor job of mixing his pitches and got hit hard the second time through the lineup as a result, but even the best starters sometimes struggle under the pressure of Opening Day.

Editor’s Note: Interested in writing for Swingin’ A’s? Check out the application link above. We are looking for at least two new writers for the 2016 season!

In Case You Missed It

Throwback: The First Opening Night in Oakland – Rich Paloma looks at the A’s first game of the season many, many years ago at the Oakland Coliseum. Did the A’s win or lose their first game in Oakland? Be sure to check out this piece of Athletics history.

A’s Season Predictions: A Guide to 2016 – Finally, the season has started! The Swingin’ A’s staff has made predictions on everything from the team leader in home runs to which player is least likely to finish the year in an Oakland uniform. Don’t forget to add your opinion in the comment section after reading!

Gray Scratched from Start, Doubront to DL – Samantha Riley recaps the news from Monday, including Gray’s illness. For those who missed it, Felix Doubront was also placed on the disabled list with an elbow strain, and may need surgery, pending a second opinion. Outfielder Andrew Lambo was called up to fill Doubront’s roster spot, but another pitcher will likely join the team before his scheduled start on Friday.

#Athletics

Next: The A's Should Learn From the Jim Johnson Deal

Around the Web

Forbes: 19 A’s Numbers – In an article on Forbes.com, Rich Campbell looks at 19 A’s numbers, in honor of Billy Beane‘s 19 years with the organization. But the number that stands out is $50 million, as in, $50 million for four years of Josh Reddick‘s services. According to Campbell, that’s the going rate for the Athletics’ right fielder if he reaches free agency.

The A’s front office didn’t respond very urgently to Reddick’s demands that the two sides strike a deal by the end of Spring Training, which would imply that they either don’t plan to sign him at all, or didn’t take kindly to being given a public deadline and are handling things on their own time. It also seems that the lack of progress – or even rumors of progress – would suggest that there will be no long-term deal reached before the off-season. Will that make Reddick trade bait at the deadline? It’s a little early to talk buyers and sellers, but if Reddick is set to walk at the end of the season, it’s hard to imagine the A’s keeping him around the full year.

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