OAKLAND, Calif. -- Bob Melvin is bringing back a familiar face to guide the Athletics pitchers. Pitching coach Curt Young is leaving the Boston Red Sox to return to Oakland and work under Melvin, who received a three-year deal in September to be the clubs permanent manager. The As announced Friday that Young had signed a one-year deal to rejoin the club that originally drafted him in the fourth round in 1981. Melvin wont have to worry one bit about Young getting up to speed with the staff. The As figured the timing was right to reach out to Young with the uncertainty of Bostons field staff after manager Terry Francona was let go last month. "Its great for a number of reasons," Melvin said in a phone interview Friday. "One, his history with the organization and he is one of the more respected pitching coaches in the game. We knew it would be difficult to get him but we thought it was a good time to ask. Were thrilled to get him. His familiarity with the organization and the pitchers was a comfort for me." The 51-year-old Young, who pitched 10 of his 11 big league seasons for the As, left Oakland last year for a stint in Boston after spending 23 years in the As organization. He guided the 2010 group that had an AL-best 3.56 ERA and a league-leading 17 shutouts while holding opponents to a .245 batting average. During Youngs tenure from 2004-2010, As pitchers led the American League with a 4.03 ERA and held opponents to an AL-low .257 average while allowing the fewest home runs (1,062) in the league. Young spent four years as a minor league coach in the organization before becoming pitching coach. Melvin and Young spent a short time as teammates during the 1992 season with Kansas City. They have golfed together, too. "This move provides Bob with not only an experienced pitching coach on his staff but also someone who has a lot of experience specifically with the organization and with the pitchers on this team," As assistant general manager David Forst said. "On a personal level, Curt has always been well-liked by everyone in Oakland, and itll be nice to have him back on our side this season." Also Friday, the As said they named Mike Henriques strength and conditioning coach for 2012. Cheap NFL Jerseys
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. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a group led by minority owner Tom Stillman is expected to close on its purchase of the St.EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Although the Los Angeles Kings are in uncharted playoff territory, theyre meeting a familiar opponent there. The Kings spent Tuesday in early preparations for their all-Pacific Division matchup with the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference finals, expected to start this weekend in Arizona. Los Angeles is making just its second trip to the conference finals in 45 years of existence to face a franchise in its first conference finals in 33 years in the NHL. Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown caught part of the Coyotes clincher at home with family, but he already knows plenty about the only remaining obstacle between the Kings and the Stanley Cup finals. He thinks the unusual matchup is great for hockey, boosting two long-suffering fan bases while underlining both the leagues parity and the top-to-bottom toughness of a division that finishes its home games when much of the hockey world is asleep. "Weve been in the same division, playing six times a year, a couple pre-season games," Brown said Tuesday after the Kings depth players held a brief practice at their training complex. "Its bringing excitement to different markets, and it shows the parity in the league where you probably have two teams that werent expected to be in this situation playing for a chance to be in the Cup finals." The Kings and Coyotes havent met since Feb. 21, when Phoenix rallied from a three-goal deficit for a shootout victory, splitting the six-game season series. Yet they competed down the stretch in the wild three-team race for the Pacific title, with Phoenix finishing one point ahead of San Jose and two points ahead of Los Angeles when the Kings lost their final two games in extra time to the Sharks. "It was a little disappointing there at the end of the year, the way we closed it out the last two games," goalie Jonathan Quick said. "They were able to win theirs and take something that wed been working all season, trying to get.dddddddddddd Weve both knocked off some good teams along the way, and Id say were both playing our best hockey of the season." Both teams are built around goaltending, with Quick and Mike Smith emerging as two of the NHLs best puck-stoppers this season. Quick leads all goalies still alive in the playoffs with a 1.55 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage, while Smith is tops with two shutouts -- one more than Quick. Brown thinks the teams are similar on the rest of the ice as well, with solid defences and grinding offences. The Kings are impressed by the Coyotes speed, yet Los Angeles thinks it can match Phoenixs tempo and grit. "Thats kind of a byproduct of playing in the Pacific Division," said Brown, who has 11 points and leads the NHL with a plus-9 rating in the post-season. "If you look at Pacific Division teams, theyre all pretty similar, and thats a result of the bigger picture of playing in the West," Brown added. "A lot of teams are very similar in the West. Maybe not this year, but the Pacific Division has been one of the tougher divisions over the last 5-6 years. When youre playing those teams six times a year, to be able to compete against those teams, you have to be willing to put on your work boots." Kings coach Darryl Sutter spent part of Tuesday driving family to the airport, but hes already done advance work on the Coyotes, praising their speed and back-end defence. He sees little difference in overall quality among Los Angeles and Phoenix and the two teams they dispatched in the conference semifinals: St. Louis and Nashville. "The only difference is really someones opinion," Sutter said. "Phoenix scored the big goals, and Nashville didnt. They executed better than Nashville did, and that was the difference." ' ' '