Oakland A's Spring Notes: Crisp Connecting

PHOENIX - Coco Crisp is a fan-friendly player at the ballpark and he is carrying over that disposition into cyberspace, where he is a popular figure on Twitter. Inside, Crisp discusses his interactions with his fans via social media, plus there are other news and notes from around Oakland A's spring training.

Crisp Connecting With Fans And At The Plate

An increasing number of Oakland A's major and minor leaguers have been taking advantage of Twitter to interact with fans in an all new way. No A's player is more active on Twitter than centerfielder Coco Crisp, who had more than 12,600 followers as of Friday night.

Crisp, whose Twitter handle is Coco_Crisp, has enjoyed the opportunity to connect with his fans.

"I have fun with it. It gives me a chance to say things that are on my mind, let people know what I am doing. They are interested, I guess, which is kind of weird, but is cool. They are always replying back to me. When they ‘@' me, I try to reply back to as many as I can," Crisp said.

"It's a good interaction."

Crisp is in his second season with the A's. In 2010, he had a solid statistical season, batting .279 with a .342 OBP and 32 steals, but he played in only 75 games thanks to a variety of injuries. The A's are counting on a healthy Crisp to be the sparkplug in their revamped line-up in 2011. Thus far this spring, he has been just that, posting a .453 OBP along with a .396 average and 13 runs scored in 16 games.

Crisp signed with the A's as a free agent before the 2010 season after a rough 2009 season with Kansas City during which he was limited to only 49 games thanks to injuries to both of his shoulders. Although it was a smooth transition last year when he came to the A's, Crisp is enjoying his second spring training with Oakland even more.

"Being around the game for awhile before I came here, I knew pretty much everybody here, so it wasn't that difficult to come over and feel comfortable. It is a pretty easy clubhouse and everyone is pretty cool, so it was an easy transition last year," Crisp said.

"This year, the main thing is that I am coming into it healthy. It makes it easier to hang around with the guys. I had to do my own rehab program last year away from the guys just to try to get my shoulders back right. It was the first time in a long time that I had an off-season without rehab."

Though his gaudy spring numbers make it tempting to project a big season for Crisp, he refuses to set any specific goals for the season beyond playing hard everyday.

"Whatever happens, happens. If the ball falls and I hit .700 or I hit .100, I'm going to go out there and try my best," Crisp said.

A's Option Carter To Sacramento

From the moment the A's signed Hideki Matsui and acquired Josh Willingham, the writing was on the wall that top prospect Chris Carter wasn't going to start the season on Oakland's 25-man roster.

Despite the long odds, Carter made his case for an Opening Day spot, putting up a solid 888 OPS in 44 at-bats. However, he struggled defensively in the outfield and that shortcoming was enough for the A's to decide to send Carter to Triple-A Sacramento for the start of the 2011 season.

The A's announced the move after their 10-3 spring loss to the Angels on Friday. Before the game A's manager Bob Geren acknowledged that playing the outfield can be difficult with the bright Arizona sun and high skies in the spring. However, Carter struggled defensively during his major league audition with the A's last season. Carter is a relative newcomer to the position, having played mostly first and third base in high school and the minor leagues. Carter should see some time at first base with the River Cats this season, but he figures to get the majority of his playing time in left field.

A's Rotation Still Not Settled

The A's announced that Trevor Cahill would be the team's Opening Day starter earlier this week and on Friday, Geren said Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden would follow Cahill in that order. Who slides into the fifth spot in the Oakland rotation remains up in the air, however.

Going into Friday's game, Brandon McCarthy appeared to be the front-runner for the spot. However, he was hit hard by the Angels, allowing six earned runs on 10 hits in 5.1 innings. The other two remaining candidates – Tyson Ross and Bobby Cramer – made their cases this week, as well. Ross allowed one earned run in 5.2 innings in a win over the Diamondbacks on Thursday, while Cramer tossed a scoreless 1.2 innings in relief of McCarthy on Friday.

Ross and McCarthy appear to have the edge on Cramer in the race at the moment given that Ross and McCarthy each had starts this week, while Cramer was moved off of a scheduled start on Thursday into a relief appearance Friday.

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