Mark Kotsay

MESA, Ariz. — The sun was beaming. The vibes were high.

A’s manager Mark Kotsay walked up to the boombox decked out in green and gold in the clubhouse at Hohokam Stadium. He turned the volume way up as Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” played over a friendly game of Texas Hold ‘Em. It wasn’t loud enough. You could still hear Max Muncy laughing.

The confidence in the clubhouse is brought up time and time again as the days tick away from spring camp. That certainty hopes to turn into a .500 record.

A lofty goal, but one Kotsay won’t shy away from.

“I’d like to set that expectation,” Kotsay said Tuesday. “That’s a large task, but it’s not something that’s unaccomplishable.”

Kotsay, who’s in his third year as the team’s skipper, said there’s a stark difference between this squad and ones previously.

Last season, the team finished with a 50-112 record. In the month of April alone, Oakland had a 5-23 record. A rough start to a season that appeared to dig a hole that remained throughout 2023.

The goal this year, among many, is to ensure a strong effort right out of the gate.

“We need to do that,” Kotsay said. “Now, that may not happen, but the resiliency of the club that we showed last year — what we need to accomplish is a winning month, which we didn’t do last year either. We were close. We had a chance in September, but we couldn’t finish it off right.”

Kotsay added the expectations will be higher this season. Mind you, a .500 record is a lot of ground to make up.

“Last year — it’s tough to hold anyone accountable early on with, you know, how we started out in terms of not losing patience,” Kotsay said.

The spring clubhouse vibe is more than playing a country song on the iPad. There’s an overall laidback feeling for some of the guys. Less individual attention and more concentrating on one another as a team.

“Last year, I think they were in that clubhouse, obviously wondering if they were gonna make the team. Wondering how long they’d be on the team. Wondering what it meant for them as individuals. This year, I think they’re in there — they know the role,” Kotsay said. ” There’s a few guys that are in there that obviously want to make the team, but it’s not about them as individuals as much anymore as it is about the team.”

About Jessica Kleinschmidt

Jess is a baseball fan with Reno, Nev. roots residing in the Bay Area. She is the host of "Short and to the Point" and is also a broadcaster with the Oakland A's Radio Network. She previously worked for and NBC Sports Bay Area.