Maxwell catching some attention from Melvin

Receiver performing well as Vogt progresses from surgery

March 13th, 2016
Catcher Bruce Maxwell has impressed A's manager Bob Melvin with his defense and pitch framing. (AP)

MESA, Ariz. -- A's manager Bob Melvin was a catcher in the Major Leagues, so when it comes to evaluating Oakland's depth at that all-important position, he has a little extra interest and influence.

That's why it's not surprising that Bruce Maxwell has impressed him and the A's this spring.

A's Spring Training info

Maxwell, 25, has been in the organization since 2012, when he was selected by the A's in the second round of the MLB Draft, and he made it to Double-A Midland, where he slashed .243/.321/.308 last year and continued to build a reputation as a defensive specialist.

The A's traded catching prospect Jacob Nottingham to the Brewers in the offseason deal that netted outfielder Khris Davis, and starting catcher Stephen Vogt had elbow surgery that has limited him to designated hitter duties early in the spring. That has meant more opportunities for the left-handed-hitting Maxwell to show the A's what he can do in big league camp, and he hasn't disappointed.

"He's performed better than my expectation for him at this point," Melvin said. "He has great framing numbers in the Minor Leagues, he's got a good throwing arm, he's pulling the ball a little bit more than we've seen for a big guy ... he even hit a home run off a left-hander to the pull side, then drove a ball through the left side.

"He's really impressed us. We were talking about him this morning. And [when] you look at our catching depth, this is really a time for him to step up and make us take notice of him. When a lot of times, when you feel like you don't have the depth, you might try to go out and sign some guys. I think he's trying to impact us to where [if] there were some injuries [he's a a guy that you can count on]."

Graveman gets his work in

Starter Kendall Graveman was looking for positives to take away from his second start of the spring in which he didn't have the best command early and paid for it. Graveman gave up three runs on four hits in three innings Saturday against Texas, striking out three and walking two while throwing 57 pitches, 29 of which were strikes.

"I was looking for my rhythm and found my release point in the third inning, and that's something to build on," Graveman said.

Graveman, who came to Oakland in the Josh Donaldson trade with Toronto in the winter prior to the 2015 season, had an up-and-down season, going 6-9 with a 4.05 ERA in 18 starts and not pitching after Aug. 23 after suffering an oblique injury.

"The arm feels great," Graveman said. "The oblique is fine now. Today was just a hiccup in the road."

Sloppy defense stifles A's

The A's had as almost as many errors (five) as hits (six) in Saturday's 14-5 loss to the Rangers, and Melvin was not happy about it afterward.

"We didn't play very well today," Melvin said. "We made five errors and [made] at least three other miscues, so that was a tough game to watch. Every play we made a bad play on today we should have made.

"We've been working awfully hard defensively. That's why it's disappointing to see a game like that, but we'll keep moving on."

• Vogt, who's recovering from elbow surgery and hasn't caught in a Cactus League game yet, played designated hitter again on Saturday, but Melvin said the plan was for Vogt to be behind the plate Monday in the night game against the Giants. Josh Phegley was slated to catch against the Cubs. Vogt has been throwing to bases in the mornings the last two days.

• Reliever Daniel Coulombe had a rough go of it Saturday, giving up four runs on five hits in one-third of an inning. "We haven't seen Daniel struggle like that," Melvin said. "He really had trouble throwing strikes today. That's the first time we've seen that. Especially with his fastball. He's usually got pretty good command of his fastball and just couldn't find it today."

• Center fielder Billy Burns has hit safely in each of his last five games (7-for-13) after going 0 -for-2 in his first game. Burns was 1-for-2 with two stolen bases and a run scored in Saturday's game.