02/17/2013 8:15 PM ET
Prospect Russell thrilled to be in big league camp
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- If Addison Russell felt like he was dreaming on his first day in big league camp Sunday, he surely woke up when a pitch drilled his left knee during batting practice.
"It's a little stiff right now," Russell said, "but I don't even care. This is such a great experience."
Russell, Oakland's top prospect who was taken 11th overall in the first round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, is the youngest player at any big league camp this year, having turned 19 just 25 days ago. But the shortstop doesn't look or act his age.
"He went through some affiliates last year and did very well for a young kid," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "If we didn't think he could handle big league camp he wouldn't be here. The ball jumps off his bat, he's got a live arm, got a live body, all the things that we heard."
Melvin isn't sure how many at-bats Russell will get this spring, but he wants to "make sure I find him some situations where he can succeed."
Russell, the first high school position player who the A's have used their top pick on in 16 years, enjoyed tremendous success in his first taste of pro ball, compiling a .369 average and a 1.027 OPS between three levels in 2012. The Pace, Fla., native also ran the bases well, stealing 16 bases in 18 chances, and proved equally impressive on defense.
"I just did my best at every level to help those teams win, and it worked out for me," said Russell.
The youngster acknowledged how welcoming everyone in the clubhouse has been since his arrival Sunday morning and shared a few goals he hopes to achieve before departing.
"Just pick up on the good habits and see what their daily routine is, soak all that in and learn as much as I can in a short amount of time," he said.
Melvin addresses players before full-squad workout
PHOENIX -- Even the defending American League West champions need a pep talk every now and then.
There was never a better time for one than Sunday, when the A's gathered around manager Bob Melvin in their clubhouse at Phoenix Municipal Stadium shortly before their first full-squad workout.
"Go about our business the same way we did last year, prepare very hard," said Melvin, in relaying his message to reporters. "You take pride in what we did, that's for sure. You want to carry that forward but also understand that this is a new year, and you have to let that go. But once you let that go, you have to reflect and ask yourself, 'What made us good?' What made us able to win the West?'
"We had a lot of success, and we should be very proud of the fact that we did, but this is a new season, and unless you're moving forward, you're moving backward."
Players were also treated to a five-minute video montage that included highlights of their inspiring 2012 season. Soon after, Melvin was roaming around the multiple fields at the club's Minor League complex, the early stages of his evaluation process underway.
Melvin will have to make several tough decisions this spring, as an influx of infielders -- particularly at second base -- and relievers crowds his roster.
"There's competition here," he said. "We still have to find out where all of the pieces fit. There might not be too many 25-man roster spots open, but within the 25-man we're still trying to figure some things out. It's a good thing. You always want competition, guys going out there with a little extra edge playing to make a job, whether it's more at-bats or whatever."
• Bob Welch, a Cy Young winner with Oakland in 1990, is helping the team's Minor League pitchers this spring and was invited to join Sunday morning's introductory meetings.
"We do like to try to celebrate our past here some, and that's one of the reasons he was there today, a great resource for our younger guys, a people person who loves putting on the green and gold as well," manager Bob Melvin said.
Welch served as pitching coach on the same Arizona team that employed Melvin as bench coach in 2001.
• The A's escaped Sunday's first full-squad workouts relatively unscathed in terms of injuries. After watching infielder Scott Sizemore tear his ACL on the same day last year, Oakland's biggest scare of the day was a minor one: Non-roster lefty Garrett Olson endured a cramp in his right hamstring, keeping him from throwing his scheduled bullpen session.
"He probably could have thrown, but we just don't want to go there this early," Melvin said. "We told them if they feel anything to tell us, because we want to get them to games."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.