Spring Training TTM Batch No. 1 Ready

It’s that time of the year. Pitchers and Catchers start reporting this week and soon Spring Training will be in full swing. It is also the time where I send a couple of TTM batches to current Major and Minor Leaguers in hopes of getting their autographs on some cards.

This year my first batch is almost exclusively Oakland Athletics. Honestly this is no different than in years past. There is only one non-Athletics player and that is Daniel Robertson of the Tampa Bay Rays. As many know he was drafted by and played for the Athletics’ minor league system until he was traded prior to the 2015 season.

In the first batch there are 11 players/coaches that I am sending requests to. Usually my batches are in groups of 10, but I had a couple of extra stamps so I decided to add one more. 4 of these players are ones I have received TTM successes from in the past. 7 I have not sent to before. 1 of those 7 can be classified as “Why not? What’s the worst that could happen?” (i.e. Long Shot)

Here is the list of players in the first batch:

Sean Doolittle*
Stephen Vogt*
Billy Burns*
Mark Canha
Jed Lowrie*
Renato Nunez
Kendall Graveman
Daniel Robertson
R.J. Alvarez
Jesse Hahn

The Long Shot:
Mark McGwire

From time to time I see successes from Mark McGwire so I figured why not? What’s the worst that is going to happen? I lose 1 card. The potential reward far out weighs the risk.

*Received prior successes.


Rehab appearances and autographs

The relocation of the Oakland Athletics’s AAA club to Nashville has been a blessing for the Stockton Ports fans. As of June 5th there have been 7 players to make rehab appearances with the Stockton Ports.

The first came on opening night, Josh Reddick rehabbed with the Ports as they opened the season in San Bernadino against the Inland Empire 66ers. Jarrod Parker soon joined the Ports for a couple of rehab starts. This was during a road trip that took them through Visalia and Bakersfield to face the Rawhide and the Blaze. Unfortunately both Reddick’s and Parker’s rehab assignments were on the road.

Coco Crisp was the first home rehab assignment for the Stockton Ports. On May 3rd and 4th Crisp played for the Ports. On Sunday, May 3rd I was able to get a MLB ball and 2 cards signed by Crisp. On Monday, May 4th I was able to get one more card signed a 2015 Topps cards (not pictured).

Coco Crisp autographed ball and cards from rehab appearance with the Stockton Ports on May 3, 2015

Coco Crisp autographed ball and cards from rehab appearance with the Stockton Ports on May 3, 2015

On May 14th and 17th Oakland Athletics’s closer Sean Doolittle made his rehab appearances with the Ports. These were home games, May 14th was a Thursday day game so I couldn’t go due to work. On Sunday, May 17th, I got to see Doolittle pitch, but I was unable to get his autograph because he did not come out to the bullpen until the 3rd inning.

A couple of days later on a road trip to Visalia second baseman Ben Zobrist joined the Ports for a couple of rehab games. On May 23rd Zobrist joined the Nashville Sounds, who happened to be on a West Coast road trip, for a couple for rehab games. I went to the game in Fresno against the Grizzlies and was able to get Zobrist to sign a ball for me.

Ben Zobrist autographed baseball from rehab appearance with Nashville Sounds on May 24, 2015.

Ben Zobrist autographed baseball from rehab appearance with Nashville Sounds on May 24, 2015.

Sunday, May 31st saw the 6th different Athletic to make a rehab appearance with the Ports. Pitcher Drew Pomeranz threw 2 scoreless innings that day. Most recently former Stockton Port and current Oakland Athletic starting pitcher A.J. Griffin made his first rehab appearance coming off of Tommy John Surgery. He threw 3 innings on June 2nd against the Lake Elsinore Storm and before the game Griffin was nice enough to sign a ball for me.

A.J. Griffin autographed baseball from rehab appearance with the Stockton Ports on June 2, 2015

A.J. Griffin autographed baseball from rehab appearance with the Stockton Ports on June 2, 2015

In addition to all of the prospects that Ports fans get to see on a regular basis, we have been treated to quite a few Oakland Athletics rehab assignments this season. I want to thank the Sacramento River Cats for not wanting to be an Athletics affiliate anymore. Without their desire to switch Ports fans may not get to see as many rehab assignments.


Jeff Samardzija Shines in Athletics Debut

On Sunday afternoon, one of the newest Oakland Athletic pitchers showed fans why they traded for him. Jeff Samardzija held the Toronto Blue Jays to 1 run on just 4 hits over 7 innings in his Oakland Athletics debut.

Samardzija gave up 2 hits in the first inning and had runners on 1st and 3rd with only 1 out. He then got Jose Bautista on a one strike pitch to ground into an inning ending double play. Jeff would go on to retire 13 of the next 14 batters giving up a lone walk in the 3rd inning. Samardzija would only allow two more hits, both coming the 6th inning.

The home crowd of 22,897 saw the Athletics secure their first 4 game sweep of the Blue Jays since 1981. Eric O’Flaherty pitched a perfect 8th inning. Sean Doolittle earned his 13th saves after surrendering a lead off home run to Steve Tolleson in the top of the 9th.

TTM Success 03/06/2014: 3 from Spring Training

After a drought of 10 days I finally received some more TTM successes. Today was my best single day success as I received 3 responses. All 3 were from the first batch of Spring Training TTMs that I sent out on February 18, 2014. Included in today’s mail were: Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Eric Sogard.

Ryan Cook is one of the primary setup guys for the Oakland Athletics and is entering his third year with the club. He was originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2008 June draft. Ryan signed a 2013 Topps Heritage and 2013 Topps. Unfortunately the 2013 Topps was smeared when he put it back in the penny sleeve, but it happens. It is still a success.

TTM Autographs of Ryan Cook

TTM Autographs of Ryan Cook

The next one I received is from the hard-throwing left hander Sean Doolittle. Sean is a converted hitter turned pitcher and I think he made the right choice. He was a componsation pick following the first round of the 2007 June draft.  Sean signed for me a 2012 Choice Stockton Ports card and a 2013 Topps card. I am really excited to get this card back as I needed it for my autographed team set…only a few more to get.

TTM Autographs of Sean Doolittle

TTM Autographs of Sean Doolittle

The final success I received today was from 2nd Baseman Eric Sogard. Eric was originally drafted by the San Diego Padres in the second round of the 2007 June draft. Eric signed a 2011 Bowman Chrome Refractor and a 2013 Topps Update.

TTM Autographs of Eric Sogard

TTM Autographs of Eric Sogard

Spring Training TTMs

Today I mailed my second batch of Spring Training TTMs. This batch consisted of 10 envelopes. Most are to current Oakland Athletics.  Two were sent to former Athletics who are current MLB coaches in other organizations. One was sent to a non-Athletics player. Here are the Spring Training TTMs I have sent out.

Batch #1 – Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Ryan Cook
Sean Doolittle
Tommy Milone
Derek Norris
Jarrod Parker
Eric Sogard

Batch #2 – February 28, 2014
Jesse Chavez
Josh Donaldson
A. J. Griffin
Jed Lowrie
Josh Reddick
Evan Scribner
Dan Straily
Don Baylor, hitting coach for LA Angels of Anaheim
Steve Henderson, hitting coach for Philadelphia Phillies
Hector Santiago, pitcher for LA Angels of Anaheim

I will be posting updates as I receive these cards back. I am considering a third batch of Spring Training TTMs. Not sure for who, but will likely be mostly non-Athletics since I have already sent to most on the Athletics who are confirmed signers. If you have any suggestions please post them in a comment!

The Athletics sign LHP Eric O’Flaherty

On Wednesday, January 22, 2014 the Oakland Athletics signed left-handed reliever Eric O’Flaherty to a 2 year contract.  The deal is reportedly worth $7 million and with performance bonus could get as high as $10 million.  O’Flaherty shores up an already outstanding bullpen. Even though he will not be ready for action until mid-season O’Flaherty will be the second LHP in  the bullpen, along with Sean Doolittle. He will replace Jerry Blevins, who was traded to the Washington Nationals in early-December for outfield prospect Billy Burns.

O’Flaherty is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery. Prior to the injury he complied a 1.45 ERA in 161 appearances for the Atlanta Braves. This is the lowest mark among Major League relievers with a minimum 125 IP. To make for O’Flaherty on the 40 man roster the Athletics designated OF Corey Brown for assignment.

Athletics sweep Rangers now lead AL West by 6.5 games

On Sunday the Oakland Athletics completed a 3 game sweep of the Texas Rangers by a score of 5-1.  Tommy Milone made a spot start in place of Jarrod Parker who was scratched due to illness. Tommy, making his first start since August 27th, gave up only 1 run on 5 hits in 5 innings.  The offense backed Tommy with home runs by Josh Donaldson, Chris Young and Josh Reddick.  Today’s win puts the Athletics 6.5 games ahead of the Texas Rangers and reduces the magic number to 8 with 13 games left to play.

Josh Donaldson continues to prove that he belong with the elite 3rd basemen in the league.  In his last 10 games he is batting .444 (16 for 36) with 4 home runs and 11 RBIs.  On the season Donaldson is batting .302 with 23 home runs and a .382 OBP.  Donaldson is leading all Athletics hitters in batting average, hits, walks, RBIs and OBP.  He has played in 146 of 149 games.

The Athletics have now won 5 straight and 16 of the last 20 games.  On Monday they begin their final home stand of the regular season where they will play the LA Angels and the Minnesota Twins.

Series recap:
Friday, September 13th
Oakland Athletics 9
Texas Rangers 8
WP: Dan Straily (10-7)
LP: Derek Holland (9-9)
SV: Sean Doolittle (2)

Saturday, September 14th
Oakland Athletics 1
Texas Rangers 0
WP: Bartolo Colon (16-6)
LP: Yu Darvish (12-9)
SV: Grant Balfour (38)

Sunday, September 15th
Oakland Athletics 5
Texas Rangers 1
WP: Tommy Milone (11-9)
LP: Martin Perez (9-5)

Stockton Ports blanked 2-0 by the Rawhide

For only the 7th time this season the Stockton Ports were shutout.  This time by the Visalia Rawhide on Saturday night by the score of 2-0.  Brad Allen, making his 1st start for the Rawhide, pitched 6 strong innings only allowing 2 hits and striking out 8.

Even though this was a shutout and the Ports’s bats were silent there were a couple of bright spots on Saturday for the Ports.  First off, Ryan Doolittle, brother of Oakland Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle, was the Ports starting pitcher.  He was making his first start of the season.  Ryan has spent most of the season rehabbing in the Arizona League coming back from an injury suffered last season.  The other bright spot was the Stockton bullpen.  The battered ‘pen stepped up and only allowed 1 run on 4 hits in 5.2 innings.  The was by far one of the best outings by the ‘pen this homestand.

The Ports continue this 7 game home stand tonight against the Visalia Rawhide as they look for their win since coming from their road trip.  This series and the 2013 home season wraps up on Monday, August 26th against the same Rawhide team.