Oakland A's Camp Notes: An Eventful Day

Getaway day was a busy one for the Oakland A's. The day featured a well-played victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, an ownership transfer and a possibly devastating injury. At the end of the day, the A's boarded the plane for the Bay Area with roster questions still lingering and the optimism that comes from the start of a new season.

Barry Zito took the hill for his final spring training start on Wednesday and made it a good one. Although Zito hung the second pitch of the game to the Brewers' Brady Clark, who quickly deposited it over the outfield fence, Zito was close to perfect after that, cruising through seven strong innings. He allowed only the one run on seven hits, while walking one and striking out four.

Zito's stellar performance was backed up by a strong outing from A's closer Octavio Dotel. Dotel went two innings and allowed only one sun-aided hit and a hit-batsman. After a slow start this spring, Dotel has pitched much better lately as his velocity has returned along with the movement on his slider.

The A's offense had a good day, as well. They pounded out seven hits, including four extra-base hits. Mark Kotsay continued his recent hot streak, going 2-3 with a triple and an RBI. He is now hitting over .300 for the spring. Erubiel Durazo crushed his third homerun of the spring and outfielders Nick Swisher and Bobby Kielty doubled. The A's also induced five free passes.

The good feeling from the game evaporated when A's shortstop Bobby Crosby was struck in the left wrist by a Gary Glover pitch. Crosby grimaced in pain and was immediately removed from the game. After the game, Crosby reported having movement in his wrist and fingers, but he was also experiencing a lot of pain and some swelling. He is scheduled to take an X-ray on the wrist tomorrow in the Bay Area.

The A's pain was doubled when non-roster invitee Hiram Bocachica was also struck in the wrist by a pitch. Bocachica, who was hit in the right wrist, was also scheduled to take X-rays when the team arrived in the Bay Area on Thursday. Marco Scutaro and Steve Stanley might be the biggest beneficiaries if both Crosby and Bocachica have to miss significant time. Scutaro, who was all but assured to be headed to AAA, will find himself on the A's 25-man roster filling a spot for an injured player for the second straight year if Crosby isn't able to go on Opening Day. Bocachica was expected to start the season in AAA and if he has to spend time on the disabled list, his spot on the River Cats' roster could be taken by Stanley. The Notre Dame alum, despite a strong performance at AA-Midland at the end of last season, was expected to return to AA this season.

After the game, the A's learned that the impending sale of the team to a group led by real estate mogul Lewis Wolff had received unanimous approval from the MLB baseball owners. The sale should be finalized on Thursday when the final paperwork is signed and will end the 10-year tenure of the Steve Schott-Ken Hoffman ownership. During the Schott-Hoffman era, the A's made the playoffs four times and won more than 100 games twice. However, Schott and Hoffman leave the A's with the somewhat dubious distinction of being the first Oakland A's ownership group not to win a World Series.

"Steve and Ken have been excellent club owners and they deserve a great amount of credit for leading the A's to three division championships and four trips to the playoffs over the last 10 years," said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. "At the same time I am looking forward to Lew's tenure as a club owner and I fully expect that he will play an important role in the continued growth of our game."

Lewis Wolff will be the managing partner of the new ownership group, but he will only own roughly 10 percent of the team. John Fisher, the son of the Gap, Inc. founder Donald Fisher, will be the majority owner. Schott will stay on as an advisor to the new ownership group. The Fisher family is worth roughly $1.5 billion, which would make them the third richest owners in major league baseball. The Fishers were part of the original Peter Magowan ownership group that purchased the San Francisco Giants in 1992. That group eventually used private financing to build SBC Park in the China Basin of San Francisco.

Wolff stated on Wednesday that the ownership group's main focus will be to build a new, baseball-only venue for the A's, preferably in Oakland. Wolff had been with the A's for the past three years as the Vice President for Venue Development. During that time, Wolff researched numerous potential spots for a new stadium. Wolff authored a report last year that indicated the most feasible spot for a new ballpark in Oakland would be in the parking lot of the Coliseum complex, where the A's currently share their ballpark with the Oakland Raiders.

"For the past three years, I've had the pleasure of being involved in one of the best-managed organizations in all of professional sports," said Wolff. "I consider it a great pleasure to have my name associated with a franchise that has such a rich and proud history as the Oakland Athletics. I am excited about our future and working to continue the A's tradition of excellence both on and off the field."


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