By Matt Furtado/KHTK Sports 1140

Although the 2015 baseball season is still fresh and new, the Oakland Athletics have learned a lot about themselves in just a short weeks time.

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The team has started the season on a drastic up and down roller coaster, but are currently sitting at a record of 3-4.

Some things were to be expected; Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir will keep the Athletics in just about every ball game they start and Ben Zobrist can, and will, play all over the diamond.

Other things, such as Mark Canha having an outstanding first week of his baseball career, and the bullpen looking a bit shaky to start the season, Oakland and its fans most likely did not see coming.

Let’s take a look back at the first week of the season for the Green and Gold to see what the team has learned so far.

1. Different team, same Bob Melvin.

The offseason was consumed with the Athletics saying goodbye to many former All-Star players and seeing those roles filled by players with much less of a name, but hopefully, as much potential.

While the team is far different than in years past, the man steering the ship is still the same.

Say what you want about the A’s losing talented players, but Oakland Manager Bob Melvin knows how to get the maximum amount of talent out of any player on his ball club.

Melvin’s coaching style was obvious in just the first week of the season. The A’s manager is going to move players all over the field and the lineup, as well as use platoons at almost every position on the field.

He takes players, who typically aren’t good enough to start everyday, and puts them in roles with the best chance for success.

It has worked in the past with platoons like Derek Norris sharing time with John Jaso behind the plate, and Chris Carter switching off with Brandon Moss at first base.

It’s fairly clear that Josh Phegley and Stephen Vogt will platoon behind the plate and the first base duties will be split by Ike Davis and Canha this season.

As for the outfield, now that Josh Reddick is back from the Disabled List, there will be a constant rotation of five different players: Reddick, Canha, Craig Gentry, Sam Fuld, and newly acquired Cody Ross.

The playing time at each platooned position will depend on whether a lefty or righty is pitching for the opposing team.

2. The outburst of runs in the team’s wins doesn’t mean much.

In the Athletics’ first three wins of the season, Oakland is outscoring it’s opponents 30-0. That is absolutely fantastic, but it doesn’t mean anything for multiple reasons.

First off, the A’s aren’t going to score like that every night, like they have already shown. To put expectations that this ball club can score runs with that kind of frequency is just not realistic.

Second, it’s the beginning of the season; not just for the A’s, but for every team. The first couple weeks of the regular season are typically filled with poor play in the box, on the mound and in the field. There is a lot of inconsistent play which can lead to blow outs or just plain ugly games.

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The positive aspects to look at in those blow out wins by the Athletics are the outstanding pitching performances by Gray, Kazmir and fifth starter Drew Pomeranz. They threw a combined 22 innings and didn’t allow a single run.

3. Injuries will have a big affect on the teams performance.

The A’s are currently dealing with a lot of players on the disabled list.

Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin are still on the DL after both having elbow surgery last year, but that’s not breaking news to anyone. The A’s have the depth in the starting rotation to stay afloat until those two come back.

The two injuries which are really hurting Oakland right now are those to Coco Crisp and Sean Doolittle.

Crisp and Doolittle may be the most important players for the Athletics.

It has been shown in years past that when Crisp is in the lineup, the team flourishes. He is a spark plug at the top of the lineup and can hit for some power, a decent average, but most of all, he causes havoc on the base paths with his speed.

Not only is his play on the field important for the Athletics, but the leadership he brings in the clubhouse is very important for a team which is currently still getting to know each other.

The Athletics are hoping for Crisp to return from his elbow injury in late May as the team’s everyday left fielder.

As for Doolittle, he is also expected to make his return back to the closer role in May. The 2014 All-Star is trying to come back from a torn left rotator cuff.

With Doolittle out of the bullpen right now, pitchers have had to consume new roles in the late innings of the game.

Tyler Clippard is filling in as the A’s closer right now. Clippard has been primarily a set-up man for most of his career. He did close out games for the Washington Nationals in 2012 (32 saves), which is why he was the natural choice to fill in for Doolittle.

While he hasn’t had a save opportunity yet, he would be a better fit as an eighth inning guy, which is where he will be when Doolittle returns. At that point, the rest of the bullpen can fall back into the roles which with they are comfortable.

Dan Otero and Fernando Abad will be the seventh inning relievers, while Clippard and Eric O’Flaherty will be the set-up guys in the eighth.

Sidenotes:

– Brett Lawrie can’t hit an off speed pitch away. On Tuesday night, the third baseman for the Athletics struck out four times on 12 pitchers. That is just an awful day at the plate. What makes it even worse, 11 of those 12 pitchers were all breaking balls. He currently has eight strike outs in the first seven games of the season.

– The new scoreboards and banners around the O.Co Coliseum look fantastic. The Coliseum may be the worst ballpark in baseball, but the new LED boards give A’s fans something new and fun to look at during games.

 

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