Newcomers Chris Young and Hiroyuki Nakajima were among the A's players, coaches and front office members who participated in the A's 2013 FanFest. Both Young and Nakajima expressed their gratitude for the reception they received from their new fanbase.
The returning A's players received a big welcome from the crowd, as well. Arguably the loudest cheers came for the team's outfielders Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick and Coco Crisp. Reddick and Crisp showed off new looks, as Reddick sported a long beard and Crisp featured an afro and a newly styled goatee.
Cespedes didn't look different to the casual observer, but the Cuban native indicated that he had altered his off-season training regimen to better prepare for the 162-game season. He has added more stretching to try to avoid some of the injuries that plagued him in his 2012 rookie season.
Other News and Notes from FanFest
- The A's spring non-roster invitation list has been released. The A's will be inviting 18 non-roster players to camp: pitchers Bruce Billings, Andrew Carignan, Mike Ekstrom, Brian Gordon, Sonny Gray, Kyler Newby, Garrett Olson and Justin Thomas; catchers David Freitas, Luke Montz, Max Stassi and Beau Taylor; infielders Miles Head, Jefry Marte, Scott Moore, Darwin Perez and Addison Russell; and outfielder Michael Choice.
- First round picks often have an invitation to big league spring training camp in their first spring training written into their contracts. This isn't the case for A's 2012 first-round pick Addison Russell. According to A's General Manager Billy Beane, Russell's invitation was based on how impressed the team was with him in his pro debut in 2012 and their belief in his maturity. Beane also said that when Russell was promoted last season that the front office would receive calls from his new managers indicating that Russell was the best player on his team at every stop.
- The A's had five players make appearances at shortstop last season, with Cliff Pennington and Stephen Drew taking up the bulk of the playing time. Both Pennington and Drew are gone, as is Brandon Hicks (who appeared in 19 games at short). In their place, the A's have brought in free agent Nakajima from Japan. There will be a battle to back-up Nakajima and Adam Rosales will be one of the players getting a long look. Rosales was praised by Beane for his work in Sacramento and when he joined the A's last season.
- Nakajima plans to report early to A's camp, likely around February 1. He said that he is looking forward to MLB spring training after years participating in physically taxing spring trainings in Japan. Nakajima is also looking forward to playing on natural surface fields in the US after playing mostly on turf in Japan.
- The Bernie Lean lives on. After a fan asked Young if he knew the dance during a Q&A session, Reddick took it upon himself to teach Young the dance right on the stage.
We will have much more coverage from A's FanFest this week, including in-depth features on several players. Stay tuned.