A's Bob Melvin giving base runners the green light
Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 10:40 p.m.
PHOENIX — At first glance, the A's are a team built on pitching and power.
But you need to look deeper. This is a team that can run, and in Bob Melvin the A's have a manager who likes to let his people go.
The A's stole 122 bases last year and have finished in the top half of AL teams in steals every year since 2009.
When Cactus League games start Saturday, Melvin will let most of the faster members of his crew run. He wants to see how newcomers like Jed Lowrie and Hiroyuki Nakajima get jumps and how they will fit into the mix.
Lowrie doesn't have a history as a base thief, but Nakajima had 20 or more steals in three of his last five seasons. Also to be added to the mix is outfielder Chris Young, who Melvin knows well from their time with the Diamondbacks, and has 20-plus steals in three of the last six seasons.
“We're going to look to run,” Melvin said. “It's a misconception that we won't. We ran a lot early last year when we were struggling, then backed off a little when started scoring a lot more, but it's something we want to do.
“We'll give guys the 'go' sign this spring and see what happens.”
His name came up Tuesday in connection with the expanding investigation into Miami-based Biogenesis and its boss, Tony Bosch, but A's pitcher Jordan Norberto decided against addressing the matter Wednesday morning.
Norberto said he didn't want to talk about the situation one way or another and that he was focused on baseball.
Norberto joined four other names that were brought to light Thursday in connection to Bosch and Biogenesis — Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Astros outfielder Fernando Martinez, Padres pitcher Fautino De Los Santos and Mets outfield prospect Cesar Puello.
Bosch is alleged to have supplied performance-enhancing drugs to a number of big league players, including Alex Rodriguez and former Giant Melky Cabrera, now with the Blue Jays.
Pitcher Bartolo Colon of the A's, who is in the midst of a 50-day suspension after a positive test for testosterone, also has been linked by published reports to Bosch and Biogenesis.
Jesse Chavez, Travis Blackley and Andrew Werner will get the first three starts of the Cactus League for the A's.
Most of the big names in the A's pitching arsenal are being held back a bit this spring because of the heavy workload they went through last year.
After holding players in the clubhouse for about an hour while it rained, the A's gave up on hopes of having a full workout and dismissed all but a handful of pitchers and catchers Wednesday morning.
Those pitchers who remained, including lefty Garrett Olson, were able to throw off covered mounds at the minor league complex at Papago Park. Olson, a lefty, had been held out of action because of a sore right hamstring.
Closer Grant Balfour was upping his effort again Wednesday, running backward up a treadmill on a steep incline. He is pushing himself to get back on the mound after having arthroscopic surgery to remove a bit of meniscus from his right knee.