It's Opening Day! Well at least in Tokyo, Japan, where the Athletics and Mariners will kick off the 2012 regular season, it's already opening day. First pitch is Wednesday at 7:10 PM Tokyo time, 3:10 AM PST. Here's some news and notes around the Oakland Athletics:
- Athletics manager Bob Melvin announced today that Brandon Allen will start at first base on Opening Day, beating out Kila Ka'aihue. Allen, 26, was acquired from Arizona in the Brad Ziegler trade and although he's struggled in brief major league experience, he has a strong minor league track record and is known as a plus defender. Ka'aihue will still be in the mix for playing time, and later in the season Daric Barton or Chris Carter could be called up from Triple-A.
- Athletics Nation's Tyler Bleszinski has a great two part interview with A's GM Bill Beane. Check out part one and part two. Beane addresses one of the most confusing off-seasons in baseball, one which saw the A's trade away three star pitchers, but add win-now players such as Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes.
- Several A's and Mariners players visited Ishinomaki, one of the cities hit hardest by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Players were stunned and saddened by the devastation, including the empty neighborhoods and what special adviser Phil Garner called a "car graveyard." There was a bright side however, when the players held a clinic for several youth teams at Ishinomaki Stadium. Smiling children, who have been through the tragedy of losing loved ones, learned some fundamentals from major leaguers and played with the A's mascot, Stomper.
- Dave Bernstein of CSN Bay Area writes Opening Day starter Brandon McCarthy isn't phased by the big stage he'll take tomorrow in Tokyo. McCarthy was the fifth starter to open last season, but now he's the ace of the club and was even on the cover of ESPN Magazine.
- Before the regular season starts, brush up on the full roster at the Oakland Athletics Complete Organizational Depth Chart. Almost time to play ball, be ready for the season.