Melvin gets assist from Rickey, Stewart

Skipper focuses on A's pride in spring-opening team meeting

February 19th, 2018

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's reconvened at Hohokam Stadium on Monday afternoon, uniting for a message from their manager.

"We feel like we're headed in the right direction," Bob Melvin said, "and we have the right group here to head in the right direction, a good mix of some guys that have been here, some guys that we added and then the young group that has had success in the Minor Leagues and is finally here now. We feel like that's a good dynamic."

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Melvin's annual address played up Oakland pride, a point that was intensified by the presence of two A's greats: Oakland natives Rickey Henderson and Dave Stewart, who are among the special instructors passing through A's camp this spring.

"They kind of went back and forth with each other about when they were growing up, the competition they had, how they feel about the team and the organization," Melvin said. "It was good stuff."

Stewart's career was catapulted when he joined the A's in 1986, and he spent parts of seven seasons with them over the course of his 16-year big league career. Henderson, meanwhile, can count 14 seasons with the A's during his 25-year Hall of Fame career.

Henderson was drafted by the A's in the fourth round in 1976, a homegrown player turned franchise fixture. The A's see potential in a handful of players on their current roster -- and , specifically -- fitting that same mold.

"I've said before that you come up in a certain organization and you get to the big leagues with that organization, it almost feels like a university," Melvin said. "Your first team is the one you always hold dearest to you and hopefully you're there for a while. In this day and age, it's tough to do, but I know that the younger guys that came up through the system really appreciate being here and take a lot of pride in it."

The A's have turned in a last-place division finish in three consecutive seasons, but they showed signs of a revival with an exciting crop of youngsters on display in September, winning 17 of their final 24 games and creating momentum they hope to carry through this spring season and beyond.

"Really good vibe all around camp," Melvin said.