2/27/2014 6:41 P.M. ET
Milone, Johnson make spring debuts
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- In need of a strong spring to have any chance at regaining a rotation spot, Tommy Milone struggled out of the gate in his Cactus League debut Thursday.
Pitching against the Brewers at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Milone walked two of his first four batters and also gave up a pair of homers, a two-run shot to Ryan Braun and a solo one to Juan Francisco.
"Braun hit a fastball," said Milone. "I just left it up a little bit.
"My arm felt good, though. Homers don't feel good, but for the first start, I'm glad everything was working fine. I'm just trying to find the command of the zone. I was kind of in and out, so I was throwing behind in some counts, and that resulted in throwing the ball over the plate."
New closer Jim Johnson also gave up a long ball in his spring debut Thursday, a solo homer by Francisco. But the way he looks at it, when factoring in Arizona's dry air, "I gave up one fly ball, so overall I pretty much did my job."
"Balls were hit a little bit harder than I'd like to see them hit, but it's just minor adjustments," said Johnson, who gave up two other hits in an inning of work. "I'm not using air or any excuses, I want to work ahead, strike one, and throw a lot of fastballs, and I did that."
Moss making adjustments to counter defensive shifts
PHOENIX -- Brandon Moss made it look easy, ignoring the heavy defensive shift and beating it with a long home run over the right-field wall at Papago Park during a recent workout.
"But last year," said Moss, "only 30 times out of however many at-bats did I do that."
The qualifier may not be necessary -- Moss averaged a home run every 14.87 at-bats, good for fourth in the Majors -- but his point is succinct: He can't rely on the long ball to scare away the shift.
Oakland's first baseman was shifted on 165 of 505 plate appearances last year, the 12th-highest total for a batter from a specific bat side, according to Baseball Info Solutions. This doesn't surprise him.
"I saw a ton," he said. "I don't think after May I saw a single, straight-up defense, except maybe the Astros. I was one of a few guys the Astros played semi-straight up. The other teams, I saw a lot of shifts. Texas, they shifted me like crazy, and so did the Angels. Teams that know me, they know when to do it."
Now it's Moss' turn to make the adjustment, so he's making bunting one of his priorities this spring. Don't expect him to do it a lot. He just wants to have the option in his pocket.
"The over-exaggerated shift gets really frustrating sometimes," he said. "And there are times when I've come up late in the game, especially when I'm not going well, and they'll shift, and say you're down by two and you need a baserunner, it would be a very good thing to have.
"A lot of guys might look at it as, 'If I bunt, I'm not giving myself a chance to drive the ball.' You're just giving yourself an opportunity to get on base for your team. It was something I wanted to do last year, but I had no idea what I was doing. I think they want me to do it, too."
"We're creating awareness," manager Bob Melvin said. "I ask each of these guys, beware of your deficiencies and how you can incrementally get better. If everyone does that, then the team gets better because of it."
The pull-happy Moss said he has bunted perhaps four times in his entire Minor League career. Now he's putting them down every day during workouts and plans to gradually carry that work into exhibition games.
"It's a good thing to have," he said, "because once some advance scouts see that, they might be inclined to shift the defense back over. That's the goal."
A's pick up Elmore in trade, designate Parrino
PHOENIX -- The A's let go of one infielder and traded for another Thursday morning, picking up Jake Elmore from the White Sox in exchange for cash considerations.
Andy Parrino was designated for assignment to make room for Elmore on the 40-man roster, giving the A's 10 days to trade, release or pass Parrino through waivers to keep him in their system.
Elmore, 26, is as versatile as they come, a trademark of the A's. He appeared in just 52 games for the Astros last year yet managed to play all nine positions in that time, including pitcher and catcher in the same game. It was just the 14th time in Major League history that a player appeared at both positions in the same game.
Most of Elmore's work, however, came in the middle infield. He hit .242 with two home runs and 13 RBIs for Houston after batting .191 with seven RBIs in 30 games for the D-backs in 2012. In six minor league seasons, Elmore was a career .291 hitter with a .781 OPS.
The A's already have several middle infielders, but collecting depth has defined much of their work in recent years. They'll get their first look at Elmore come Friday, when he's expected to join the team on the field after taking a physical Thursday.
Parrino was in his second camp with the A's after coming over from the Padres at the end of 2012. He struggled to the tune of a .118 average in 14 games with Oakland last season and only hit .210 with four homers and 36 RBIs in 108 games at Triple-A Sacramento.
• It wasn't until he watched the replay did Melvin realize just how incredible Josh Reddick's catch of Michael Morse's near homer was on Wednesday.
"You know what? When I saw it on the replay, I couldn't believe it," Melvin said Thursday morning. "You just expect, if the ball's semi-close to staying in the park, he's gonna catch it. But I didn't realize how good a play that was. That first one, I don't know that you see that again. That's how good it was.
"It was one of the best catches I've ever seen, based on the angle, based on him having his back completely turned, and it wasn't like it was right over his head, too. He had to move at an angle at the last minute, and it's getting the play it deserves today. ... Superlatives across the board."
• John Jaso, who was hit by a pitch near his right elbow on Wednesday, will remain out of games until at least Saturday, Melvin said. The A's want to be cautious with the catcher.
• Reliever Ryan Cook, on the mend from shoulder inflammation, threw from flat ground on Thursday without any issues, putting him on track to throw his first bullpen of the spring early next week.