SAN FRANCISCO – The news that he’d been named Special Assistant to A’s president Dave Kaval struck Dennis Eckersley as a little bewildering.
He’s agreed to work for the club on a limited basis in sponsorships, fan contacts and the like, but “Special Assistant” seems to be more than that.
“I honestly don’t know what to say, because I still am doing broadcasting for the Red Sox,” Eckersley said Friday from his home in Florida. “We have a deal for me to represent the club from time to time, which I’m happy to do.
“But I’ll still be living in Boston during the season because of the Red Sox thing.”
Kaval and A’s executive Ken Pries, who did the actual hiring of Eckersley, said the title wasn’t the important part. Getting Eckersley on board was. That was the special part.
“He is a connection to our history and our heritage,” Kaval said. “I won’t be working with him on a daily basis like I do with Rickey Henderson. But this is the first step. I think it’s important to bring back as many of the organization’s historic players as we can. He’ll work with sponsorship, with fans and we’ll see where it goes. It’s great to have him aboard at this level.”
Henderson works with the club in spring training, does work with the minor league teams and players in season and shows up at the Coliseum for homestands perhaps one week per month.
None of that is on Eckersley’s calendar. He’ll be around in late August for an Aug. 26 bobblehead day that commemorates the 25th anniversary of Eckersley’s Cy Young and MVP season of 1992.
The A’s have brought back Dave Stewart, Jose Canseco, Dallas Braden and Mark Mulder in the last couple of years, those four joining the club in broadcasting roles. Kaval said they are important to what happened in the first 50 years of the club’s stay in Oakland, and “we want them involved going forward, too.”
The Fremont-raised Eckersley said he’s happy to do what he can for the A’s, and he makes multiple visits to the East Bay each year to visit family. But he said he sees his new title as overstating his new job.
“I don’t know if it needs the capital letters,” he said.
The A’s seem to believe it does.
–Khris Davis, his calf healed, was back in the A’s lineup Friday in a 2-1 loss to San Francisco and will be there again Saturday. But the days he’s thinking about are the 162 that come after the Giants series is over.
Before Friday’s Game 2 of the Bay Bridge Series, manager Bob Melvin said the one constant in the Oakland lineup would be Davis, coming off a 42-homer, 102-RBI season, batting cleanup.
Davis put it another way.
“Oakland is certainly counting on me a lot,” Davis said. “I can feel it.”
Should the A’s feel that way?
“They should,” he said.
“I’m feeling good, I think I could have played yesterday,” Davis said. “I think they have just been cautious in giving me the extra day, and I appreciate that. The important day isn’t today or tomorrow. It’s Monday.”
That would be opening day in the Coliseum against the Angels. Davis says he likes what he’s seen of the club during spring training and is optimistic that he can be part of a team that can make inroads on being competitive in 2017.
“It’s going to be a group effort, collectively,” he said. “I want to do what I can to help, and we all do. I like the attitude I see from this group.”
–Jharel Cotton didn’t get a win from his final start of the spring, but he pitched well enough, allowing just a solo homer from Brandon Crawford over the course of four innings.
It’s just more of the same from Cotton, who has allowed exactly one run in five of his six spring appearances.
“I got a tip from Ryan Madson to keep my eyes down lower,” Cotton said. “I did that and I was able to keep my pitches down in the third and fourth innings. That really helped, getting that advice from a veteran.”
After being shut out for the first 16 innings of the series, the A’s got a run in the eighth on an RBI double from Jaff Decker to tie the game, but Ryan Dull took the loss when he loaded the bases with one out and Eduardo Nunez beat out a possible double play grounder.
The A’s had men on second and third with one out before the Giants’ Derek Law struck out Ryon Healy and, after an intentional walk, got Ryan Lavarnway to ground out with the bases loaded.
Also getting a start Friday was Trevor Plouffe. The third baseman hadn’t played in a game since March 25 because of a groin injury, but he’s been cleared to play.
Melvin held a hitters-only meeting before Friday’s game stressing that he sees doesn’t have any bench players, only role players. He said he wanted the new players in particular to know that “we do things a little differently around here.”
Saturday morning Melvin will meet with his pitching staff. Presumably he will delineate roles, including closer, although the manager has said all spring the club would not necessarily have just one resident closer.