The A’s Regroup After a Tumultuous Off-Season

Meet Your 2015 Oakland A’s


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Many new players are trying on the hat and uniform of the A’s for the first time this season. Some, such as shortstop Marcus Semien, below with second baseman Eric Sogard, already have begun to find their groove.

Photo by Andy DeLisle

(page 1 of 5)

On the second day of play in the Cactus League, the Oakland Athletics clubhouse was strangely subdued. At the far end of the locker room, two televisions quietly displayed highlights from the MLB Network and the talking heads of ESPN, but both went unwatched. No players stood around in circles giving one another a hard time. No loud hip-hop or hard rock bounced off the walls of the team’s new spring training locker room. In fact, at one point, a maudlin Rod Stewart ballad filled the ears of the players. As strange a musical accompaniment as it seemed for a group of professional athletes, perhaps no one on this team of strangers felt sufficiently comfortable to change the station.

At the other end of the locker room, amid a small, horseshoe-shaped section of lockers, sophomore infielder Marcus Semien, hoping for his first starting gig in the majors, watched Steven Vogt, later to be named the team’s starting catcher. Vogt showed Semien the steel-plate insole he wears in his cleats to protect his surgically repaired right foot. Vogt banged it against a stool a few times, chuckling as it made a clanging sound that reverberated throughout the clubhouse.

But mostly, players sat at their lockers, seriously focused on the day ahead of them. The rookies generally kept their heads down, slowly getting dressed or responding to emails and text messages on their cell phones. Other players silently ate breakfast. For some that meant a plate prepared by the team chef, but others just opted for protein goop out of a metallic tube. Sam Fuld, who would receive the news later that day that he’ll be the center fielder come Opening Day, bragged that he hadn’t eaten yet at all. Energy was fairly low.

Coco Crisp, the energetic player whose four short years on the A’s are enough to make him the team’s longest-tenured player, also was subdued, but for a different reason. He had just found out that he will not be patrolling center field on Opening Day. With an influx of new blood, there’s been a lot of such shuffling. The athletic fielder and fan favorite was still processing the decision that came down from the front office and was relayed to him by management: In an effort to keep their second-most-highly paid player healthy, Crisp would be sliding to the left. He was still processing the news as he answered reporters’ questions.

“They had their minds set on me playing left field,” Crisp said, clearly holding something back. “I would rather play center, but I take things in stride for the most part. It’s kinda hard to ride that fine line between pride and understanding what they’re trying to do.”

Pride is something Crisp has plenty of—for his job, his team and his city. His locker prominently features a black Oakland Raiders cap with a flat bill.

“Being here as a major leaguer you have that swagger about yourself,” he said. “We’ll see how it all plays out. I mean, left field—it is what it is.”

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