PHOENIX -- The Oakland A's minor league spring game schedule got underway on Friday in 100 degree…
The Oakland A's made their first round of cuts on Sunday, sending seven players down to minor league camp. Starter Dan Meyer and relievers Santiago Casilla and David Shafer were optioned to Triple-A Sacramento, while starter Dallas Braden, relievers Kazuhito Tadano and Connor Robertson and outfielder Vince Faison were re-assigned to minor league camp.
Meyer was optioned to Triple-A before he had a chance to make an appearance in game action. The left-hander is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery that he had last season. Meyer has struggled with injuries since arriving in the A's organization for the 2005 season.
Casilla was cut after making only three appearances in major league camp. The right-handed reliever arrived late to camp after visa problems. He fell far down the minor league depth chart for relievers after missing much of last season with injuries and struggling with his command during his three brief major league stints.
Shafer made four appearances before being cut. The right-handed reliever was acquired a few weeks before the start of camp for right-hander Kirk Saarloos. Shafer allowed two runs in 4.1 innings of work. He gave up five hits and three walks and he struck out a batter. Shafer will likely start the season in Triple-A Sacramento.
Tadano threw three innings spread over three appearances this spring. He allowed two runs on four hits and one walk. He struck out four. Tadano's velocity and control was much better this spring than it was for much of last season, when the Japanese native was struggling with a knee injury.
Braden was sent down to minor league camp after a strong performance on Sunday versus the Angels. The left-hander threw three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out three. He didn't walk a batter. Braden made three appearances overall, allowing three runs in seven innings. He walked four and struck out six. Braden is looking to bounce back from a lost 2006 season, when he was out with a shoulder injury for most of the year. He had a strong winter performance in Puerto Rico and could be poised for a big season.
Robertson also had an impressive stint in major league camp. The right-hander allowed one run in three innings of work. He struck out six and didn't walk a batter and he allowed only two hits. Robertson has been one of the best strikeout pitchers in the A's farm system since he was drafted in 2004 and that continued in spring camp. During his three year minor league career, Robertson has averaged 12.50 strikeouts per nine innings. He should be a set-up man in the River Cats' bullpen this season.
Faison didn't get a very long look after signing with the team as a minor league free agent this off-season. The left-handed hitting outfielder was re-assigned to minor league camp after having only 14 at-bats. He had three hits and scored two runs in those 14-bats. Faison drove-in a run and struck out four times. The centerfielder spent last season at Double-A in the New York Yankees chain. He was a first-round draft choice of the San Diego Padres in 1999. He has only 10 games of experience in Triple-A.
Farm System Helps A's Sweep Split Squad
The A's had their first split-squad day of the spring and plenty of A's farmhands saw significant action. Oakland won both games by a run, beating the Angels 7-6 and the Giants 3-2.
In the game against the Angels, the A's were led offensively by first baseman Daric Barton, who continued his red-hot spring with a 3-5 effort. Barton hit his first homerun of the spring and he doubled. The left-handed hitter is making a strong impression this spring after missing most of last season with an elbow injury. Barton is hitting .500 (8-16) with four RBI. He has a walk and has yet to strike-out. Barton has also looked improved defensively down at first. He isn't likely to make the team out of camp, but Barton could make his major league debut later this season.
Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez also homered for Oakland, which had nine hits and five walks against Anaheim. The A's were trailing for much of the game before scoring four runs in the top of the eighth inning to take the lead for good.
The decisive hit was off the bat of shortstop J.J. Furmaniak, who hit a two-run double in the eighth inning to put the A's in the lead. Furmaniak signed a minor league deal with the A's this off-season after spending the last year and a half in the Pittsburgh chain. The middle infielder had four hits in 17-bats and three walks. The two RBIs on Sunday were his first of the spring. Outfielder Charles Thomas also had two RBI. He is hitting .318 with five RBI this spring.
Left-hander Derek Thompson made his major league camp debut on Sunday. The left-hander was signed as a minor league free agent this winter. The former LA Dodgers' starter allowed three runs in only two-thirds of an inning. Thompson walked two and he allowed three hits. He was out of baseball almost all of last season after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery in 2005.
Shane Komine got the start against the Angels and he turned in his best performance of the spring. The right-hander allowed one run in three innings. He gave up four hits and a walk and struck out two. Braden earned the win with his three innings of work. Erasmo Ramirez earned the save with a perfect ninth inning.
Reliever Shawn Kohn recorded the final out of Thompson's fifth inning. The right-hander was one of three minor league players called up to major league camp to play in the Angels' game. Kohn split last season between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. The right-hander had a 3.45 ERA in 68.1 innings in 2006. Third baseman Jeff Baisley, who was the Midwest League MVP last season, took over at third for Chavez and went 0-2. Corner infielder Vasili Spanos pinch-hit for DH Mike Piazza and he went 0-1.
Rule 5 pick Ryan Goleski saw time in centerfield on Sunday, as the A's are attempting to figure out how they will back-up Milton Bradley in center while Mark Kotsay is on the DL. Goleski has been a corner outfielder for most of his career. He went 0-1 with a walk on Sunday. The right-handed slugger has struggled so far this spring. He is second on the team with 26 at-bats, but he has managed only two hits. His Sunday walk was his first of the spring.
In the A's other split-squad game, Oakland beat cross-town rival San Francisco when outfielder Javier Herrera singled home Donnie Murphy in the bottom of the ninth inning. Herrera's game-winning hit was his second hit in eight at-bats this spring. He also drew his first walk of the spring. The five-tool prospect has two RBI this spring. Herrera is making a comeback after missing all of last season with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. His throwing has been restricted a bit this spring, but he has otherwise been playing at full strength.
Murphy had a big day at the plate. In addition to scoring the game-winning run, Murphy had three hits. He played the entire game at third base. Murphy has had a strong spring thus far. He is hitting .389 with two RBI and five runs scored in eight games.
Minor league camp call-ups Eddie Cornejo and Cliff Pennington made an appearance against the Giants. Cornejo filled in at second base for Antonio Perez and he walked in his only at-bat. Pennington went 0-1 and made an error after filling in for Marco Scutaro at shortstop. Regular shortstop Bobby Crosby has still not made his spring debut as he recovers from an off-season back injury.
Joe Blanton had a good start in his second spring appearance. The right-hander allowed two runs in 3.2 innings of work. Blanton's effort was the longest outing by any A's pitcher thus far this spring. He struck out two, walked one and allowed five base hits. Jay Witasick, Huston Street and Kiko Calero combined to throw 3.1 innings of scoreless relief. The A's regular season relievers struck out five and didn't walk a batter.
Left-hander Lenny DiNardo also had a strong performance, tossing two scoreless innings. He allowed a hit and struck out a batter. DiNardo has a 4.50 ERA in six innings this spring. He was acquired by the A's off of waivers from the Boston Red Sox just before the start of camp.