Oakland still thinks it can keep the A's

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For those of you who have lost track of the Oakland A’s stadium saga, know that you haven’t missed a ton.  Owner Lew Wolff still wants to go to San Jose — he calls it “the only option” in a recent San Jose sales pitch masquerading as a profile on the A’s situation — and he has the backing of Cisco Systems an San Jose public officials on the potential ballpark.  All of that is gummed up by the fact that Major League Baseball still has its specially-appointed commission calculating the payoff to the San Francisco Giants — er, I mean “studying the A’s stadium situation.”  Nothing can happen until their report comes in, presumably sometime in early 2010.

Into that mix comes word today that the City of Oakland has identified four potential sites for a new A’s ballpark within the city. Apparently Wolff has already dismissed the sites as unworkable, probably because he has already dismissed everything in Oakland as unworkable.

I’m not the world’s biggest A’s ballpark expert — this guys is — but I can’t help but think that Oakland knows that none of those sites will ever happen.  I think they believe what I believe: the whole
MLB commission thing is rigged to pave the way for the San Jose move, and against that backdrop, they’re throwing out these proposals in order to make the commission work a bit harder before simply putting its rubber stamp on the inevitable.

If so, good for Oakland for not simply laying down on this.  Lew Wolff and the powers that be may one day take baseball from Oakland, but they won’t be able to say that they didn’t have a choice.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.