Friday Notes: A’s Return Home To Uncertain Reception In Oakland

Image credit: Oakland A's (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The A’s return to Oakland on Friday for their first home game since the team announced it signed a binding agreement to purchase land in Las Vegas for a new stadium.

What kind of fan reception awaits the team remains to be seen.

“I don’t think that we’ve really addressed it as a team,” veteran utilityman Tony Kemp said during the Athletics’ road series in Anaheim. “I think everyone’s kind of aware of the situation. But I think the best thing that we’re doing is just controlling what we can and come to the ballpark with the positive attitude each day. If there’s a field and our time is at 6:35, that’s the game time we’re going to play. I think that’s the biggest thing that we’re concentrating on is, just one day at a time.”

The A’s averaged 11,025 fans through their first 12 home games this season, lowest in MLB. That comes after they averaged 7,933 fans per game last season following owner John Fisher’s decision to tear down the roster and simultaneously raise ticket prices.

Fan groups Oakland Forever and (Un)Rooted in Oakland have announced plans to hold a protest outside the Coliseum prior to the Athletics’ series opener against the Reds. Organizers have encouraged attendees to bring signs and drums in protest of the proposed move to Las Vegas.

“These guys in the clubhouse aren’t concerned about, I think, where they’re going to play,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “They’re concerned about how they play, and each day if you walk in the clubhouse, you’ll see the words ‘win the day.’ That’s our focus. We understand that everything else is out of their control.”

The A’s are 5-21, the worst record in MLB, and have a minus-113 run differential, also the worst in MLB. They are on pace to go 31-131, which would be the worst record in MLB history.  They entered the season with a $58 million payroll, lowest in MLB.

Whether fans will still show up to A’s games—and how they’ll express their emotions—will come into focus in the coming weeks. The A’s play 13 of their next 19 games at home.

“Hopefully some fans come out,” Kemp said. “Hopefully we get some nice attendance. I think at the end of the day, you know, the fans are the most important thing, and just being able to give them a good baseball game and something to be proud of.”

Commissioner Rob Manfred cited the team’s low attendance figures and blamed city leaders for the current situation in a meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors earlier this week.

“Their attendance has never been outstanding, let me put it that way,” Manfred said.

Kotsay, who played for the A’s from 2004-07 and has been a member of their coaching staff since 2016, took a different tact.

“We enjoy and appreciate every fan that’s in the stands in our home games,” Kotsay said. “I’ve been in this organization since 2004, with obviously stints in other places, but Oakland A’s fans are real. And those that have a history of loving this organization and the players that put this uniform on, you know, I think we all feel for them right now. But yet, I think they’re going to show up and I think they’re going to support these guys, like they always have.”


Kotsay and Angels manager Phil Nevin have a long, shared history that is continuing as rival managers in the American League West. Both were Southern California high school standouts and both starred at Cal State Fullerton, although they missed playing with each other by two years. Nevin was the first overall pick out of Fullerton in 1992 and Kotsay was the ninth overall pick in 1996 after a historic college career with the Titans.

They became teammates on the Padres from 2001-03 and have remained close ever since. Both lived in the San Diego area during and after their playing days, with Nevin in Poway and Kotsay in Rancho Santa Fe.

“I consider Phil one of my great friends,” Kotsay said. “We’re both competitors. (Monday) night, to share some insight, there was a foul ball hit in our dugout pretty firmly. I reached up to grab it because I was in the best of moods at that point. It hit my hand pretty hard. I dropped it and he looked over at me like ‘What are you doing?’ 

“We both care a lot about each other. Our families are connected. I’ve known his boys since they were born, basically.”

If Kotsay had gotten his way, the A’s would have drafted Nevin’s youngest son, Kyle, out of Baylor last year. Instead, the Dodgers took Kyle in the 11th round. He is batting .385/.460/.508 through 16 games for Low-A Rancho Cucamonga.

“I tried to convince our GM to draft Kyle last year,” Kotsay said. “I couldn’t push the needle far enough.”


At this time last year, Zach Neto was Campbell’s starting shortstop and coming off a win against UNC Greensboro with 585 fans in attendance.

Understandably, the Angels 22-year-old rookie is still a little starstruck playing alongside Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani barely 12 months later.

The Angels drafted Neto with the 13th overall pick last year and promoted him to the majors on April 15 after just 44 career minor league games. He became the first player from the 2022 draft class to reach the majors and has hit .214/.313/.310 through his first 13 games.

“Still sometimes I run out there and I see Ohtani or Trout running right next to me and it’s like, ‘Man, I’m playing with the best player in baseball right now,’ ” Neto said. “Every time I see those guys, there’s still a little nerves every time I’m talking to them or just out there on the field with them.”

Neto has started to settle in and recorded a hit in four of his last five starts. He’s shown exceptional strike-zone discipline given his lack of experience and played errorless defense at shortstop.

Eventually, Neto knows sharing a locker room and talking with Ohtani and Trout will begin to feel normal. For now, he’s not taking it for granted.

“Sooner or later it’ll be a normal comfort,” Neto said. “They’ve done a really good job of kind of showing me the ropes around Angel Stadium and just to be able to be a professional.”


D-backs manager Torey Lovullo spoke on Opening Day about wanting to give outfielder Corbin Carroll a “soft landing” in his first full major league season. The plan was to have Carroll bat closer to the bottom of the lineup than the top to start the year and have him slowly work his way up.

“Eventually he will (move up),” Lovullo said on Opening Day. “But I want to be situationally aware of the matchups and what his strengths are and just put him in the best position to be successful. I think he’s gonna be successful no matter what. I think at some point in time we’ll see him migrate north. When that is, I’m not sure.”

The “when” as it turned out, is now. After primarily batting fifth or sixth to start the year, Carroll has become the D-backs primary No. 3 hitter in recent days. Carroll drew his first start batting third on April 19 and went 2-for-3 with two doubles, two walks and two runs scored against the Cardinals. He’s remained in the third spot since, only moving down to the No. 6 spot when the D-backs faced Royals lefthander Ryan Yarbrough on Thursday.

Carroll has performed every bit like an impact hitter worthy of the No. 3 spot. He’s batting .311/.374/.556 with eight doubles, four home runs, eight RBIs and 10 stolen bases through 26 games and leads all rookies in hits, runs and doubles. 


The Dodgers have had a few flaws exposed during their 13-13 start to the season. None has been bigger than their inability to control the run game at a time when stealing bases is back in vogue.

Opponents are 38-for-44 stealing bases against the Dodgers this season, the most stolen bases allowed by any team. The Pirates ran particularly wild in their series win over the Dodgers, stealing 12 bases in 13 attempts against them in three games.

The issue should be ameliorated somewhat by the impending return of catcher Will Smith, whose 1.94-second average pop time ranks 11th out of 35 catchers with at least five throws to second base this year. Austin Barnes, the Dodgers’ primary catcher in Smith’s absence, has a 2.0-second average pop time that ranks 27th out of 35.

But that doesn’t solve the problem of the Dodgers pitchers’ inability to hold runners. Righthander Noah Syndergaard has allowed nine stolen bases in as many attempts this year, most in the majors. Lefthander Julio Urias has allowed six steals in nine attempts. Lefthanded reliever Alex Vesia (5 SB in 6 attempts) and righthanded relievers Phil Bickford, Shelby Miller and Yency Almonte (all 3-for-3) have all struggled to hold runners as well, contributing to the bullpen’s early-season struggles. Even with Smith’s arm strength, opponents are 8-for-9 on stolen bases attempts against him this year due to the pitching staff’s inability to hold runners.

This hasn’t been a perennial problem. Last season the Dodgers allowed 68 stolen bases, sixth-fewest in the majors. But with teams running more this year, they’re going to have to find a fix.


And lastly, an annual reminder that players take time to figure things out in the majors.

Phillies center fielder Brandon Marsh ranks third in the majors with a 1.095 OPS entering Friday. Mariners left fielder Jarred Kelenic ranks right behind him at No. 4 with a 1.046 OPS. Nolan Gorman is flourishing as the Cardinals’ DH with a .934 OPS.

All were multiple-time Top 100 Prospects who reached the majors at a young age, struggled and needed resets. Marsh was traded from the Angels to the Phillies and Kelenic and Gorman were demoted back to Triple-A.

But all have made adjustments, come out this year and been among baseball’s best players early on. They’re all performing like the difference-makers they projected to be and, with all of them 25 or younger, are positioned to be standouts for years to come and make their early struggles a distant memory.

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