PHOENIX -- Nearly 60 players crowded a buzzing A's clubhouse Monday morning, when manager Bob Geren addressed his 2011 club in preparation for the team's first full-squad workout.
"I left them with a positive outlook on the year, because we feel like it's going to be one," Geren said while speaking to media shortly after.
The A's skipper, embarking on his fifth year at the helm in Oakland, is looking to capture his first winning season following a 2010 campaign that left his club in second place behind the American League champion Rangers with an 81-81 record.
A slew of injuries -- along with a soft offense lacking any sort of power -- prevented the A's from clinching their first postseason berth since 2006, Geren believes. Health is returning, though, and the A's made a conscious effort to solve their offensively challenged ways this winter with the additions of Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham and David DeJesus.
"This morning I just kinda touched on what I felt was a very productive offseason," Geren said. "The entire front office, I thought, did a tremendous job of adding offense without sacrificing defense, and by bolstering an already impressive pitching staff.
"The offseason was fun because every time we acquired someone via trade, like a DeJesus, or via free agency, like a Matsui, it felt like every building block kept getting stronger and stronger. I've been looking forward to this date since the last game of ."
Nothing is certain on paper, though. That's why Geren, who kept his speech "short and sweet," also stressed the importance of the many mundane activities that come along with Spring Training, including the likes of baserunning, pitchers' fielding practice, and situational hitting.
"We touched on each phase of the game," he said. "I let them know what I was satisfied with and what I was happy with last year, and where we need to improve, and how we're going to do it."
The A's wasted no time in getting to work, as they raced over to the team's Minor League facilities at Papago Park, where they'll be stationed for the next two days. Beginning Thursday, the team will face three days of intrasquad games at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, before christening the Spring Training season with an away game in Mesa, Ariz., against the Cubs, on Sunday afternoon.
Among those in tow will be 17 new players, many of whom are expected to keep the A's near the top of the division this year.
"I think we've been bona fide contenders every year I've been the manager," Geren said. "I think we've been sidelined by injuries each of the years, and that's pushed us back. This year, the biggest difference is not necessarily the talent level of the nine starting players, but the depth that we have if we do have any injuries."