Notes: LeCroy jumps at opportunity

Notes: LeCroy jumps at opportunity

PHOENIX -- Several days ago, Matt LeCroy was sitting at home in South Carolina, wondering if he'd get a chance to join a Major League team during Spring Training.

Shortly after 8 a.m. PST Saturday morning, LeCroy was sweating through a catcher's conditioning drill at Papago Park.

Signed to replace recently retired catcher Jeremy Brown, LeCroy was just happy to have a chance at earning a roster spot on the A's or in Sacramento.

"I really didn't have too many options to go anywhere, but my agent kept saying, 'Be patient,'" LeCroy said. "I guess the older you are, the harder it gets."

Thirty-two and graying, LeCroy is in his 11th professional season. Although he's never been a full-time starter in the Major Leagues, he's appeared at that level during each of the last eight seasons. He hit 17 home runs in part-time duty during both 2003 and 2005 and is a .260 career hitter.

LeCroy said he knows he's a long shot to make the A's roster, but he has seen stranger things happen due to trades, injuries or performance, and he's willing to play in the Minor Leagues.

"I've been a role player pretty much my whole career," he said.

LeCroy said he worked out during the offseason in hopes of landing an opportunity. He was a free agent after batting .194 in 80 games for Triple-A Rochester and hitting .150 (3-for-20) in limited action for the Twins last season.

Blanton throws simulated game: Starter Joe Blanton threw a bullpen session on Saturday. He faced batters, but they did not swing.

"He did about a 30-pitch warmup, sat down, threw a 20-pitch inning ... sat down and threw another one," manager Bob Geren said. "This is his seventh time he's been on the mound. He's known about that Opening Day assignment for quite a while, and he's prepared for it."

No. 2 starter Rich Harden is expected to throw a similar session Monday.

Calero on own schedule: Reliever Kiko Calero, coming off rotator cuff surgery, is working out at Papago Park, but isn't yet throwing with the other pitchers.

"He's on his own throwing program," Geren said. "He's going to be behind as far as mound time."

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Sign change: The A's have been implementing a new set of signs this year because Geren thought that signs have gotten simpler over the years and he wanted to make the A's signs more complex and harder to decipher. The team is using signs during its bullpen sessions.

"I like how the catchers are taking charge of that," Geren said. "It's a sign of young, hungry guys that want to learn and impress, not just with their stuff, but their attention to detail."

Fourteen agree to terms: The A's announced Saturday they have agreed to terms with 14 players to one-year contracts for 2008: pitchers Dallas Braden, Santiago Casilla, Joey Devine, Jeff Gray, Fernando Hernandez and Henry Rodriguez; infielders Jack Hannahan and Dan Johnson; and outfielders Travis Buck, Chris Denorfia, Jeff Fiorentino, Carlos Gonzalez, Javier Herrera and Richie Robnett.

On the lookout: Rodriguez is traveling and expected to arrive in Phoenix on Saturday and is expected to be in camp tomorrow. Casilla is still trying to solve a visa problem.

Mark Thoma is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.