The A’s underwent major changes in the offseason, and life in 2012 begins without much of last year’s roster, including former All-Star pitchers Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey.
“It’s tough,” A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki said at a FanFest event at Oracle Arena on Sunday. “It’s not just the fact that they’re leaving; it’s the fact that you build relationships with these players and you become close to them. ... It’s kind of a surreal feeling.”
One of the late additions to the roster is Petaluma native Jonny Gomes, who grew up rooting for the A’s and said he had an A’s hat on “24/7 for the first 13 years of my life.” Gomes is a candidate to start in the outfield and provide some of the power lost when Josh Willingham left via free agency.
“I think top to bottom what I see is a lot of athleticism,” Gomes said. “You see a lot of guys who can cause havoc. There’s going to be a lot of different ways to score. ... That’s a good starting point.”
Gomes, who signed on Thursday to a one-year deal, had his best season as a full-time starter two seasons ago when he hit 18 home runs and drove in 86 runs for the Cincinnati Reds.
Gomes is also one of four outfielders picked up by the A’s in the offseason, a position in which the team lacked depth.
Josh Reddick, who came over in the Bailey trade with the Boston Red Sox, echoed Gomes’ thoughts and said players on this team have something to prove.
“It’s going to be a lot different, but at least we’ll have the young guys who are trying to prove they want to play every day, want to play hard,” Reddick said. “Hopefully we have a bunch of players like me who are willing to run through a wall to catch the baseball.”
Manager Bob Melvin has gone through the growing process before, while managing the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007.
“I enjoy the fact that there is going to be competition in camp,” Melvin said.
“It’s my job to acclimate to the team that we have. If that means it’s a little bit younger and some more competition, then so be it.”
Big offseason moves by the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers, both AL West contenders, have not dampened Melvin’s spirits, as they remind people there are always unexpected teams that do well every season.
“Every year you see teams come out the pack that the expectations were low,” Melvin said. “There’s always teams that come out of the pack that play as a group.”
2011 record: 74-88
Manager: Bob Melvin
Outta here: Andrew Bailey, Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Sweeney, Trevor Cahill
New in town: Josh Reddick, Jonny Gomes, Bartolo Colon, Seth Smith
Spring training: Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 18
Season opener: March 28, vs. Seattle in Tokyo