Oakland A's Spring Q&A: Tony DeFrancesco

Sacramento manager Tony DeFrancesco is entering his fifth season as the manager of the River Cats. DeFrancesco added an Arizona Fall League championship title this past fall to his two Pacific Coast League championships. We spoke to DeFrancesco on Saturday about his impression of some of the Oakland A's top prospects, his AFL experience and more...

OaklandClubhouse: How is your spring going so far?

Tony DeFrancesco: So far it has been pretty good.

OC: Have any of the young players stood out for you yet this spring?

TD: I would say right now that Travis Buck is on top of the list right now.

OC: So it seems his injury is a thing of the past at this point?

TD: Yeah, he's fine right now. He's running well and swinging the bat really well and he has even made a couple of good plays in the outfield [on Saturday].

OC: You got to see a number of these prospects in Arizona this fall on your Phoenix Desert Dogs team. Have any of the players who had on that team stood out so far this spring?

TD: Well, Kevin Melillo is getting some playing time at second base and he had some good at bats [on Saturday]. Mike Mitchell, a reliever, threw two solid innings this week and has been doing a good job for us. Connor Robertson, another reliever who was on that team, has gotten some good work in. It is still early, and I'm sure they are a little nervous, but I think they are all going to be just fine.

OC: Melillo played a little third base for you in Arizona this fall. Do you feel like he could hold his own at third in addition to playing second?

TD: Yeah, absolutely. With Mark Ellis having almost a Gold Glove at second base in Oakland, I think Kevin was going to need to get some versatility anyhow, so I think that will help him get some playing time down the road.

OC: Was this your first time managing in the AFL?

TD: In 2001, I was actually an interim manager.

OC: What was the experience like for you this fall?

TD: This fall was a lot of fun. It was a great group of guys. There were no really big names on our team, but they really played well together as a team and we had a lot of fun and I think everybody got a lot better.

OC: I know there were a lot of changes on the A's coaching staff this off-season. Were you up for any of those positions or are you content staying as a manager at Triple-A at this point in your career?

TD: Oh, no. I want to be a major league coach and I definitely was in the running. I've just got to keep working hard and hopefully it will happen soon.

OC: Last year in Sacramento, I'm sure, was a trial with all of the injuries you guys had to endure. Do you feel the team has a playoff look with the talent coming back and some of the six-year minor league free agents the team has signed?

TD: Oh, absolutely. The team has signed some very solid veteran minor league free agents and with Travis Buck and Kurt Suzuki, another one of our top prospects, it should be a good mix of young and old.

OC: Is it tough to balance playing time when you have younger players and older veterans?

TD: Everybody gets an opportunity to play early in the season and then usually somebody is going to step-up to the plate and get a little more playing time. It usually works itself out, especially at Triple-A when you have injuries at the big leagues that cause the roster [in Triple-A] to change kind of frequently.

OC: You had a chance to see Marcus McBeth briefly in May in Sacramento and then again this past fall in the AFL and then again this spring. Has he made a lot of progress since you first saw him in May?

TD: Absolutely. I think at that point in his career he was still trying to figure out mound presence and confidence and now seeing him in the Fall League and now in spring training, he is right on pace.

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