2/16/2014 10:10 A.M. ET
A's focus on improving pitchers' defense this spring
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Spring Training isn't complete without pitchers' fielding drills. As mundane as they can be, they're essential to the preseason routine, and the A's will feature them prominently in camp this year.
This isn't so much out of the ordinary, but it was one of a few messages manager Bob Melvin honed in on when addressing pitchers and catchers on the first official day of workouts Saturday.
"I brought up today that we have to get better as a pitching staff defensively," said Melvin. "We had some errors last year and have to get better, so that will be a focus."
Oakland pitchers ranked in the middle of the pack last year in errors, tallying 10 for 14th most in the Majors, with righty Jarrod Parker taking responsibility for four of them. Their .953 fielding percentage ranked 21st.
So when Melvin's staff went to the drawing board to chart out the spring's drills, defense was identified as one of the bigger focal points for pitchers.
"We always try to tweak potential drills," he said. "You stay on top of it, and the first part is awareness, knowing your deficiencies and understanding what you need to do to get better. So we start with that."
Reddick agrees to one-year deal with A's
PHOENIX -- The A's and outfielder Josh Reddick have agreed to a one-year contract on Sunday, avoiding arbitration.
Reddick was scheduled for an arbitration hearing Wednesday, but the deal means the A's have avoided going to court with a player for nine consecutive years.
The A's initially filed at $2 million, while Reddick's camp was asking for $3.25 million. They reportedly settled at $2.7 million, just above the midpoint.
It was the first year of arbitration eligibility for Reddick, who hit .226/.307/.379 with 12 home runs while dealing with right wrist issues in 114 games in 2013, after hitting 32 home runs with a .242/.305/.463 batting line in 156 games the year before.
The 26-year-old was among the early arrivals in camp Saturday, four days before position players are required to report.
Cook throws long toss; Opening Day appears realistic
PHOENIX -- Ryan Cook is already throwing again, further proof that his mild hiccup with shoulder inflammation was just that.
The A's reliever had been shut down for nearly a month before returning to the field at Papago Park on Saturday to throw long toss from 75 feet pain-free. Considering it marked the first official day of workouts for pitchers and catchers, Cook couldn't have timed it any better.
"Had [the inflammation] happened now, maybe I'm not back in time," said Cook, who posted a 2.54 ERA in 71 appearances last year. "Now I have time to get back and should be ready to go in just a couple weeks.
"I don't feel any pain right now. Today I actually felt better than I have in a really long time. I feel great. It's night and day. In fact, I ask myself, 'How long was I dealing with it without knowing?' My arm felt alive, and I haven't really felt that out of my hand in awhile."
The right-hander was already throwing from 120 feet when he first experienced discomfort, so it's not like he's starting from scratch. He'll be a few weeks behind other pitchers, but is fully expected to be Opening Day-ready. The A's never even sent him for an MRI.
"They didn't think it was necessary, and neither did I," Cook said, "so it was nothing that was ever a scare. Just enough that we wanted to shut it down and get it right before we got going."
• Lefty Sean Doolittle (right quad) took part in running drills Saturday without any issues and said the tentative plan is to throw a bullpen session Monday.
• Drew Pomeranz was scheduled to throw off the mound at Papago Park on Saturday, but he instead remained at Phoenix Municipal Stadium to receive treatment on an ingrown leg hair that had to be lanced. The southpaw's bullpen session will be pushed back a day or two.
• Reliever Eric O'Flaherty, who is nine months removed from Tommy John surgery, has progressed to long toss but isn't expected to get into any spring games, Melvin said. The A's are anticipating a midseason return for the left-hander.
• Josh Reddick, Brandon Moss and Michael Taylor were among the newest early arrivals in camp Saturday. Craig Gentry, Josh Donaldson and Daric Barton were already in camp, and all position players are due to join them by Wednesday.