It’s only March, but Bobby Valentine is already making himself an easy target

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I don’t mean that headline to be too critical. I’m not a hypocrite here. The media person in me really dislikes it when managers are boring by-the-book guys who seem to be animated by nothing. So I’m certainly not going to hate on Bobby Valentine for making life interesting. And interesting he has made it.

For example, on Monday he got into a little thing with Ozzie Guillen during a Marlins-Red Sox game.  Guillen was ejected. Valentine mockingly waved bye-bye to him from the dugout. After the game, Guillen was asked about it. He said he hadn’t seen it, but that if he he had he would’ve told Valentine to “go f*** himself.”  This led to Valentine to respond last night, saying about Guillen, “isn’t that his standard comment on everything?”

Last night, apparently, Valentine over-managed a bit during the first inning of a Yankees-Red Sox game, his first as Boston’s manager. With runners on second and third, he moved his infield back, appearing — as would make sense in the first inning of a spring training game — to be conceding a run. But then he had the infielders rush in when the pitcher delivered the ball.  This led to YES announcer Lou Piniella to criticize Valentine for being showy.

Like I said: I find this sort of thing — petty personal dustups and unconventional managing that causes media folks to chatter — all kinds of fun on a personal level. These sorts of things fill the space between games, make our comments section fun and keep us from getting bored by too many stone-faced guys talking and managing as if they were programmed.

I can’t say, however, that everyone will feel that way. Indeed, if the Red Sox don’t win and win a lot, Valentine’s schtick is gonna be held up as a reason for it, justified or not. He’ll be a distraction according to some. He will be unfavorably compared to the mostly no-nonsense Terry Francona.

It’s for this reason that I have always been somewhat skeptical of the Valentine hiring. He’s a smart guy. He has had success. I think he can be successful in Boston too.  But if the Sox do anything other than win the division, isn’t he the easiest target going?

And hasn’t the Boston media shown in the wake of the 2011 collapse and a million other examples before it that, if there’s an easy target, they’re gonna open with both barrels blazing?

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.

Athletics call up top prospect Franklin Barreto

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The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.

Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.

While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.