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A's focus on improving pitchers' defense this spring

PHOENIX -- Spring Training isn't complete without pitchers' fielding drills. As mundane as they can be, they're essential to the preseason routine, and the A's will feature them prominently in camp this year.

This isn't so much out of the ordinary, but it was one of a few messages manager Bob Melvin honed in on when addressing pitchers and catchers on the first official day of workouts Saturday.

"I brought up today that we have to get better as a pitching staff defensively," said Melvin. "We had some errors last year and have to get better, so that will be a focus."

Oakland pitchers ranked in the middle of the pack last year in errors, tallying 10 for 14th most in the Majors, with righty Jarrod Parker taking responsibility for four of them. Their .953 fielding percentage ranked 21st.

So when Melvin's staff went to the drawing board to chart out the spring's drills, defense was identified as one of the bigger focal points for pitchers.

"We always try to tweak potential drills," he said. "You stay on top of it, and the first part is awareness, knowing your deficiencies and understanding what you need to do to get better. So we start with that."

Jane Lee is a reporter for Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.
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