Robbie Grossman and AJ Hinch, two former A's, lament dissolving fan base in Oakland

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — Robbie Grossman paused for a second before answering the question.

“I want to make sure I say this right,” he said.

He was asked if his heart broke just a little to see what’s going on out in Oakland these days, with ownership raising prices drastically and attendance dropping to all-time lows. After drawing more than 17,000 for the home opener last week, the attendance for the subsequent four home games was 3,748, 2,730 (lowest since 1980), 4,429 and 7,012.

“I hope they move to Vegas,” he said.

Robbie Grossman played two seasons in Oakland before joining the Tigers.

Grossman played two seasons for the Athletics in Oakland, 2019 and 2020. The A’s went to the playoffs both years and in 2019 drew 1.7 million fans to the broken-down Coliseum, now called RingCentral Coliseum. He lived in downtown Oakland during those two years and grew very fond of the Town, as it’s referred to locally.

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“Oakland was special to me, but you can no longer play in the Coliseum,” he said. “And if they can’t build a stadium within a year or two, there’s no reason for them to be there.”

For almost three decades there’s been talk of building a new stadium in Oakland. New sites were approved and stadium designs drawn up over and over. But for various political, economical and environmental reasons, none have come to fruition.

“They said they were going to build a stadium at the same time the (Texas) Rangers said they were going to build a stadium,” Grossman said. “The Rangers are playing in their new stadium and Oakland doesn’t even have a shovel in the ground. How does that work?”

Las Vegas is home to the Athletics’ Triple-A team, which has been outdrawing the parent club this season.

“It’s a shame,” Grossman said. “The A’s have such a long history in Oakland and so many good things have happened there. The fans are great there. It’s a tough situation. I just hope at the end of the day they figure something out to make it better.”

The situation gnaws at Tigers manager AJ Hinch, too. He was drafted by the Athletics, made his debut at the Coliseum and played there from 1998 into 2000.

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“It bums me out to watch that environment dissolve,” he said. “It was such a fun place to play. I know the ballpark gets talked about a ton, but it’s a great franchise and the fans there really do love the A’s. It’s unfortunate the way things have gone over the last few years.

“Any time you see 2,500, 2,700 people in the park — especially that ballpark, it’s so enormous — they’ve clearly planted their flag and are letting (ownership) know they don’t appreciate the direction of the situation there.”

Both Grossman and Hinch think the franchise eventually moving to Las Vegas is inevitable.

“I hope it gets resolved,” Hinch said. “I love baseball in Oakland, in the Bay Area. I went to school there, I played there, I have a lot of friends and family in that organization. They deserve better times.”

Last hurdle

Shortstop Javy Báez (right thumb soreness) took batting practice on the field before Game 1 on Saturday. Hinch said if he comes out of that pain-free — and he didn't show any discomfort — he could be activated Sunday.

“I’m ready to be out there,” Báez said before he took batting practice. “I hate being on the side. I’m just in the dugout trying to bring anything possible to the team. It’s hard. I want to be out there and helping out in those situations.”

Báez initially hurt the thumb on Opening Day, during the on-field celebration of his walk-off winner. He kept playing and got jammed twice, further aggravating the thumb. He hasn’t played since April 12.

“When AJ put me on the IL, it was kind of a tough decision,” Báez said. “I had already missed four days and we could only go back three days. I said what if I’m ready before? But it turned out right. I wasn’t ready.”

Around the horn

Daz Cameron was called back up from Triple-A Toledo to serve as the 29th man for the doubleheader Saturday. He was expected to start in right field in the second game.

Hinch explained that Cameron was not eligible to play in the first game because the Rockies couldn’t get their extra player to Detroit in time for the day game.

… To create a spot on the 40-man roster for Game 2 starter Beau Brieske, the Tigers moved reliever Kyle Funkhouser to the 60-day injured list. They also optioned right-hander Angel De Jesus back to Triple-A Toledo. De Jesus pitched two scoreless innings in his big-league debut in Game 1.

… Right-handed pitcher Matt Manning (right shoulder inflammation) threw on flat ground for the first time before Game 1. He hadn’t talked to Manning or head athletic trainer Doug Teter about it before his pre-game media session.

Twitter: @cmccosky

Rockies at Tigers

► First pitch: 1:10 p.m. Sunday, Comerica Park, Detroit

► TV/radio: BSD/97.1


RHP Chad Kuhl (1-0, 0.87), Rockies: So far, he’s mostly scrapped his four-seam fastball, going with his two-seam sinker to set up his slider. The results have been impressive, he’s given up four hits total and hitters are 0-for-10 with seven strikeouts against his slider.

LHP Tyler Alexander (0-1, 4.26), Tigers: He’s coming off a perfect-storm disaster: Lousy playing conditions, poor command and an ump with a small strike zone. Yet, had it not been for a misjudged popup at the plate, he would’ve got out of it unscathed. Instead, it was a 42-pitch, two-run, one-inning outing.