04/06/2004 10:43 PM ET
Notes: Collisions not a worry
Healthy Bradford shakes boredom of back spasms
By Mychael Urban / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- With one out and nobody on in the top of the third inning Monday during the A's exciting Opening Night win over the Rangers, Texas leadoff man Michael Young bounced a ball back up the middle that looked like it might be fodder for something spectacular from one of Oakland's middle infielders.
|Shortstop Bobby Crosby missed three exhibition games after a collision with Mark Ellis. (Roy Dabner/AP)
Shortstop Bobby Crosby and second baseman Marco Scutaro both gave chase on the ball, which went right over the bag, and a diving play by one or both seemed imminent. Instead, both infielders pulled up as soon as they caught sight of each other.
The Ellis Effect, perhaps? Mark Ellis, Oakland's regular starting baseman, suffered a dislocated shoulder late in Spring Training on a nearly identical ball hit by Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa. Crosby and Ellis both dove, and the nasty collision that ensued knocked out Ellis out for a minimum of two months and cost Crosby three games with a thigh contusion.
Crosby, however, insisted that the play with Ellis didn't enter his mind until after Young's ball rolled into center field.
"It definitely wasn't something I was thinking about," he said Tuesday. "After the play it kind of dawned on me that it was a similar play, but that's not why I didn't dive. On Sosa's ball there was a runner at second and we were trying to save a run. If there was a guy at second [Monday], I might have dove. But that ball was probably going through, anyway."
That Crosby and Scutaro didn't appear to be on the same page on the play shouldn't be of much concern. Both said they're already plenty comfortable playing together despite being new to the team and the league.
When it appeared -- only a few weeks ago -- that Crosby and rookie Esteban German would be starting up the middle, much was made of the duo's experience as the double-play tandem last season at Triple-A Sacramento. Crosby thinks that perceived benefit might have been a tad overstated.
"That's probably something that gets a little blown out of proportion, that shortstop-second baseman relationship," he said. "I mean, yeah, it's nice to have a ton of games under your belt with a certain guy. But honestly, if a guy can put the ball where you want it on a feed to the bag, that's all the chemistry you need.
"We're going to be fine."
Scutaro, who made a couple of dazzling plays in his Oakland debut, agreed.
"Every day at Spring Training, we were out there early with [infield coach Ron Washington] taking balls and working together," Scutaro said. "That helps, of course, but we've both been playing baseball a long time. We know what we have to do."
And what they don't have to do.
"Am I worried about another collision? No," Crosby said. "I've been playing baseball for 18 years and that's the first time that's happened. The odds of it happening twice in a few weeks are probably pretty slim."
Bored no more: Submarine right-hander Chad Bradford missed the bulk of Spring Training with back spasms, so much of his time in Arizona was downtime. There's only so much cardiovascular work a man can do, even if he's a professional athlete.
So to say that Bradford is thrilled to be back on the mound is an understatement. He was running out of ways to kill time.
"The clubhouse in Phoenix is pretty boring," he said Tuesday, a night after picking up the win with an inning of hitless relief work. "It was pretty much ride the [exercise] bike ... ice ... stretch ... ride the bike some more ... ice some more. I was in the trainer's room so much that some of the clubhouse guys were saying I should move my locker in there."
Bradford drew a blank when asked to describe the silliest thing he did to pass time, but when it was suggested that he might have went out to the parking lot to look for lizards, he lit up.
"You know what? I did find a lizard in the clubhouse one day," he said. "I trapped it in a cup. I'm not sure what happened to it, but I'm pretty sure it ended up in [Barry] Zito's hat somehow."
Injury update: A's manager Ken Macha said infielder Frank Menechino (calf strain) jogged at the team's minor league complex Tuesday for the first time since sustaining his injury early in the spring and will try to do so again Wednesday. ... Macha also said that trainer Larry Davis likes what he's seen of veteran utilityman Mark McLemore, who was signed Sunday and immediately placed on the 15-day disabled list while recovering from knee surgery. McLemore is expected back in late April, but he'll go on a rehab stint at Triple-A Sacramento before making his A's debut. ... Ellis, whose first MRI was inconclusive because there was still too much swelling in his shoulder, will get a second MRI on Wednesday, but the A's might not release the results of the test until Monday. They want all of their team doctors to take a look first.
Dribblers: Macha said that if Menechino and McLemore are ready to rehab at the same time, both of them being in Sacramento won't be a problem. "There's a lot of things we can do," he said. "One can DH, one can play second. And one of them is going to have to be ready to be a backup shortstop, so they'll play some over there, too." ... The A's notched their highest Opening Day rating ever on Fox Sports Net Bay Area on Monday, pulling a 4.9 for their win over the Rangers. The game peaked at 6.5 at 10:30 pm. Each rating point represents 10,000 households.
Mychael Urban is a
national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.