For the casual fan, here are the five Oakland A’s to watch this season.
Frank Thomas: The A’s biggest off-season acquisition, the six-foot-five-inch, 275-pound “Big Hurt” is one of the dominant sluggers of his generation. However, Thomas spent most of the last two seasons on the disabled list with foot and ankle injuries, and watched from the bench as his former team, the Chicago White Sox, won the 2005 World Series. Primed for a comeback, Thomas may be the right-handed power bat the A’s lineup has been lacking.
Milton Bradley: The A’s new right fielder is a switch-hitter with power and speed. But, he has a history of anger-management issues, including suspensions and run-ins with the police. The A’s hope that their laid-back clubhouse will provide an environment in which Bradley can flourish.
Huston Street: Street is 2005’s American League Rookie of the Year and was the lone member of the A’s to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic in March. Street was so awesome in his rookie campaign that he was compared to A’s Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley. The A’s have their fingers crossed that their closer won’t fall victim to the dreaded “sophomore jinx.”
Rich Harden: The flame-throwing Harden is one of the best young pitchers in baseball, but oblique and lat strains limited him to 19 starts last season. If Harden can avoid those nagging injuries, he’s one of the most impressive pitchers in the game.
Esteban Loaiza: The addition of this veteran right-handed pitcher may give the A’s the best starting rotation in the American League. Loaiza turned in a very solid 2005 season with the Washington Nationals.
For tickets, go to www.oaklandathletics.com.