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When will the A’s begin promoting top prospects?

Tue, 23 May 2017 04:43:58 UT

Inconsistent offense and dreadful defense will make it tough for Oakland to climb back into contention; Houston has emerged as the division’s dominant club and the wild-card teams aren’t likely to come out of the mediocre AL West. Which means that some point, the A’s will turn toward their future, that group of well-regarded position players at Triple-A Nashville. [...] baseman Jed Lowrie, playing the best he has since 2013, would be a solid addition for a contender, a switch hitter who turns in good at-bats and whose defense, though limited, is much improved from last year. Everyday shortstop Marcus Semien is expected to come off the disabled list as soon as mid-June and second base is the spot most scouts see Barreto playing, anyway. The A’s wouldn’t mind giving him more time with the Sounds, but if there’s a market for third baseman Trevor Plouffe in July, Chapman could be up earlier than anticipated. Corner infielder Renato Nuñez, 23, has hit 12 homers in 39 games. , but like Chad Pinder, he doesn’t have a settled position. Pinder — who hit three homers in the A’s four-game weekend series with Boston — already has the big-league utility job, at least until Semien’s return. Big-time power to all fields but he doesn’t have discipline at the plate and they don’t know where to play him. First baseman/right fielder Matt Olson, 23, was up in September and briefly in April. It’s hard to see how the team could wedge Olson onto the roster anytime soon because outfielder Matt Joyce is on a two-year deal and might not draw much interest in July after his slow start. [...] the A’s have too many first basemen on the big-league roster; should Yonder Alonso get traded in July — not a given, Oakland thinks so highly of him — Ryon Healy probably gets the bulk of the playing time there. Were Alonso moved and Healy placed at first, Vogt could hop around from catcher to designated hitter to first as needed, and the A’s can bring up Maxwell.



A’s early errors set tone in 12-3 rout by Red Sox

Mon, 22 May 2017 00:30:04 UT

A’s early errors set tone in 12-3 rout by Red Sox [...] there would be no third straight good start for Andrew Triggs, who fell behind 4-3 with the help of his teammates before giving up a two-run homer to Mitch Moreland in the sixth inning. Oakland actually had taken a 3-2 lead on Chad Pinder’s two-run homer to left in the fourth inning. [...] the A’s also lead the major leagues in errors with 42, as well as in unearned runs with 30. Oakland catcher Josh Phegley sailed a throw into center field on Christian Vasquez’s stolen base, and Vasquez scored from third on Mookie Betts’ single to tie the game. Betts then took off for second on a hit-and-run play, and when shortstop Adam Rosales broke to cover second, Dustin Pedroia grounded to shortstop — where no one was. The speedy Betts did not stop running and scored from first base as the ball slowly rolled into left-center, taking advantage of left fielder Khris Davis’ arm. Rodriguez wasn’t as dominant as he was when carried a no-hitter through 72/3 innings against the A’s on Sept. 4, but he didn’t have to be.



Knee strain lands A’s Ryan Dull on DL; Axford reinstated

Sun, 21 May 2017 05:13:47 UT

Just as John Axford came off the disabled list, the A’s bullpen lost a reliever to injury. Right-hander Ryan Dull went on the DL after saying he felt something “pop” in his right knee Friday on a pitch he threw to Boston’s Mitch Moreland. An MRI exam showed no structural damage, according to manager Bob Melvin. Dull said he had a similar injury his freshman year at UNC-Asheville but “the pain wasn’t as severe as it is now.” The knee problem eight years ago was diagnosed as hamstring tendinitis along with meniscus inflammation. Because it happened at the end of the college season, he didn’t need to resume pitching until August, so Dull is unsure how long the timeline might be. Axford missed the first 42 games with a shoulder strain, the first DL stint of his career. The A’s also might get reliever Sean Doolittle back a little more quickly than anticipated. Doolittle, out since April 30 with a shoulder strain, began doing flat-ground work Friday and will throw off the mound in the coming week. Doolittle’s injury is different from others he has had; it is in the lower front of the shoulder, and Doolittle compared it to an impingement. Mark Canha is batting .440 with three homers since being recalled May 9. ... First-base coach Mike Aldrete missed the game in order to attend his daughter Nicolette’s graduation from Sonoma State. Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Right-hander Daniel Mengden, who had foot surgery Feb. 8, came off the disabled list and was optioned to Triple-A Nashville.



Pinder’s ‘big boy pop’leads home run parade

Sun, 21 May 2017 05:12:47 UT

Somewhere toward the middle of Saturday’s game, some tape measures broke trying to keep up with the monstrous homers the A’s were belting. Mark Canha smoked a solo shot out to left, 453 feet from home plate, to open the fifth inning. Yoenis Céspedes’ first homer at the Coliseum in 2012 was measured at 462 feet, but it struck the facing just below the plaza level, demonstrating the difficulty of accurately measuring homers. [...] ESPN, which measured that Céspedes shot, pegged Pinder’s drive at 483 feet, but Statcast, with 460 for Pinder, is considered the standard for measurements. Former A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson, who knows the Coliseum’s dimensions well, responded to The Chronicle’s tweets about Pinder’s homer first with “Oh my” and emojis with a staring face and two flexed biceps, then a follow-up that read: “big boy pop.” With all those balls flying out, the inning was a long one, so manager Bob Melvin took starter Sean Manaea out. In the second inning, former A’s starter Drew Pomeranz walked Trevor Plouffe and Pinder, and with one out Josh Phegley tapped a swinging bunt in front of the plate. Both runners came across and Phegley wound up at third, but the umpiring crew conferred and Pinder was returned to third and Phegley to second because the ball had rolled into the Boston bullpen and become stuck. Manaea went five innings and allowed three runs, two earned, before Frankie Montas turned in three scoreless innings of relief.



A’s Sean Doolittle might be back sooner than anticipated

Sat, 20 May 2017 21:36:42 UT

Sean Doolittle’s latest shoulder injury might not cost him anywhere near the kind of time his previous two shoulder problems did. Doolittle, out since April 30 with a shoulder strain, missed 59 games with a shoulder strain last year and most of the 2015 season with shoulder issues, but he began doing flat-ground work Friday and will throw off the mound next week, he said. Doolittle’s current injury is different from the others he has had; it is in the lower front of the shoulder and Doolittle compared it to an impingement. Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.



A’s beat Red Sox on Canha walk-off homer in 10th

Sat, 20 May 2017 15:58:28 UT

Canha’s home run in the 10th inning Friday night lifted the A’s past the Red Sox 3-2 before 24,728 on Fireworks Night. The A’s were inches from winning in regulation when Healy hit a ball off Craig Kimbrel over the 8-foot center-field wall, only to watch Jackie Bradley Jr. race back and make a leaping catch. Bradley’s catch sent the game to the 10th inning, and Canha led off by pulling Heath Hembree’s 2-0 slider a long, long way. A’s starter Kendall Graveman gave up two runs in six innings, and four relievers — Ryan Madson, Liam Hendriks, Santiago Casilla and Ryan Dull — each pitched a scoreless inning, giving the A’s bullpen 21 straight shutout innings at home. Sale is well on his way to his fifth straight 200-strikeout season — he already has 95, which leads the majors — and Friday’s 10 K’s gave him eight straight starts with double-digit strikeouts. The only pitcher with more in recorded history (since 1913) was Pedro Martinez with 10 consecutive games, and that was orchestrated over two seasons. For Sale, it’s the second time in his career he fanned 10-plus batters in eight straight starts, the first time coming with the White Sox in 2015. Graveman was one pitch from striking out the side in the fourth inning, but that one pitch was a 90 mph cutter that Mitch Moreland airlifted over the right-field wall for a two-run home run. The first baseman continued his dominance over the A’s with his 18th career homer, his most against any club.



A’s Marcus Semien optimistic after cast removed

Sat, 20 May 2017 03:25:30 UT

A’s Marcus Semien optimistic after cast removed The shortstop, who had surgery April 18 to repair a hairline fracture in his scaphoid bone, can begin exercises to strengthen his hand and arm. Semien was optimistic about being activated when eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list June 14, but is aware it could take longer. Dr. Steve Shin of the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in L.A. performed the 50-minute operation, which included inserting a screw into the bone and cleaning inflammation. While in the cast, Semien continued working out and doing any baseball drills he could handle. “He’s kept himself in great shape in the interim, taking groundballs, one-handed hitting off the tee and so forth,” manager Bob Melvin said, so it’s just about getting that hand strong enough to play catch, and then he’ll be on his way. “He never really had an opportunity, and you worry about the durability part of it,” Melvin said. Defensively, he’s been absolutely terrific, and if you look at his numbers, they’re very respectable what he’s done at the plate, too. Reliever John Axford (shoulder strain) is expected to be activated Sunday. ... Melvin said first baseman Yonder Alonso (knee) could return by the end of the weekend or be held out until Tuesday, after the off day. ... Pitcher Daniel Mengden (foot) is close to coming off the DL. John Shea is The Chronicle’s national baseball writer. Red Sox Red Sox Bay Area legend:



Gray picks up first win as A’s thump Red Sox

Fri, 19 May 2017 06:10:03 UT

Other major-league teams might see the Coliseum as an antiquated, broken-down bowl of gray alongside Interstate 880. Sonny Gray pocketed his first win of the season and Jed Lowrie, Khris Davis and Chad Pinder smacked home runs before 12,016 spectators. Gray, who missed all of April with a strained right shoulder, matched his 2016 season high with the eight strikeouts and picked up his first win since July 26. The A’s made noise one night after absorbing a shutout in Seattle, failing to get even one extra-base hit. Gray dug himself an early hole, relinquishing two runs in the first inning. The Red Sox had the bases loaded with one out, one run already across and onetime A’s outfielder Chris Young (in 2013) at the plate. Young hit a sacrifice fly and Gray got the next batter, Jackie Bradley Jr., on a flyball to end the inning. The A’s helped Gray with a rare offensive outburst in their half of the first inning. Lowrie smacked a two-run homer to center field and Davis followed with a solo shot to right-center. “It’s a tough place to play,” he said of the Coliseum, citing the sometimes cold weather and expansive foul territory.




A’s Alonso to miss at least a few games with sore knee

Fri, 19 May 2017 00:18:22 UT

A’s Alonso to miss at least a few games with sore knee First baseman Yonder Alonso contemplating the state of his sore left knee with reporters before Thursday night’s game against Boston. Alonso had an MRI exam on the knee, but the results weren’t yet known. Ryon Healy replaced him at first base Thursday night; manager Bob Melvin plans to keep Healy there the next three games, with the Red Sox starting three consecutive left-handed pitchers. Not surprisingly, Alonso’s offensive rejuvenation in 2017 — and his team’s 1-5 road trip — heighten his frustration.



Amid more misplays, A’s end awful trip with another loss

Thu, 18 May 2017 06:07:16 UT

SEATTLE — Oakland went into this road trip on a high note, having won four of five, then went straight into the dumpster. Bergman, who had a career ERA of 5.40 entering the night, is one of the many fill-in starters for Seattle’s injury-riddled rotation. In every game on the road trip, Oakland made at least one mistake or mental error in the field, including two misplays in the outfield Wednesday that led to runs, and the bullpen was universally unreliable until Wednesday, the first time in six games A’s relievers didn’t allow at least one run. In the first inning, Ben Gamel hit a line drive to right that looked like no more than a single, but the ball skipped under Joyce’s glove and Gamel wound up at third with a triple. In the fifth, Hahn walked former A’s prospect Boog Powell and Guillermo Heredia followed with a base hit. Tuffy Gosewisch advanced them with a sacrifice bunt and Jean Segura, who’d struck out in each of his first two at-bats, poked a single up the middle, scoring both. Gamel then hit a high flyball to left-center and Mark Canha, playing center for just the second time, raced a long way and appeared to call off Khris Davis, who was in a much better position to make the catch. The misplays also helped drive up Hahn’s pitch count to 103 through five innings, so that was it for him. Oakland’s bullpen allowed 14 earned runs in the first five games of the trip, but Bobby Wahl (one inning) and Josh Smith (two innings) did not give up a run Wednesday.




Batting gloves a hit with A’s Stephen Vogt

Thu, 18 May 2017 05:46:12 UT

Batting gloves a hit with A’s Stephen Vogt SEATTLE — Stephen Vogt started doing something different on this road trip. [...] don’t expect to see the A’s catcher without batting gloves for a while. “It’s definitely a strange feeling, but I’m going to roll with it,” Vogt said Wednesday. Save for a few icy nights in the Midwest, Vogt hadn’t worn batting gloves in a game until Saturday, as part of the pink-tinged Mother’s Day uniform. Work with hitting coach Darren Bush also is paying off, Vogt said. Bush told him to focus on his right knee, rather than getting his right foot down, and that has helped him. [...] baseman Trevor Plouffe was burning lavender and sage incense in the clubhouse Wednesday and, he explained, We had it at home and we’ve been doing really well at home. ... Lavender is very calming and sage is meant to get evil spirits out. Get the bad juju out, you know what I mean? A little bit of dual cleansing going on right now. “We’re searching for nirvana around here,” infielder Chad Pinder added. Plouffe said he first began bringing incense to the Coliseum to spiff up the hot/cold tub area. John Axford will make another rehab outing with Triple-A Nashville on Thursday and is likely to come off the disabled list Sunday. ... The A’s will open the gates an hour early, at 4:30 p.m., on Tuesdays the rest of the season, so fans can see the team take batting practice. Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.



Is incense the sweet smell of success for A’s?

Thu, 18 May 2017 01:54:51 UT

Is incense the sweet smell of success for A’s? SEATTLE - The A’s clubhouse at Safeco Field smelled more like a Buddhist temple or upscale spa than a locker room Wednesday. “Lavender is very calming and sage is meant to get evil spirits out,” he said. The A’s franchise always has been known to be eclectic, and the incense is a hit with Plouffe’s teammates, especially Jed Lowrie and Chad Pinder, according to Plouffe. The A’s had lost four in a row on the trip before a 9-6 win Tuesday night on the strength of homers by Matt Joyce and Mark Canha; they’re 11-8 at home and they’re 4-1-1 in home series, but just 1-5 in road series.



Ryon Healy’s eventful night for A’s includes smashed phone

Thu, 18 May 2017 01:38:25 UT

SEATTLE - Ryon Healy had an all-over-the-map evening Tuesday, first hitting a two-run homer in the second inning and then making an error in the seventh that, at the time, set the A’s back severely. Healy also shattered a Seattle fan’s phone with his blast to left, as it turns out. Healy laughed about the incident Wednesday, saying he hadn’t know about the smashed phone until he saw it on Twitter but he was happy the team was taking care of reimbursing Johnson. Has he ever damaged anything else with a home run? “For a younger player, it’s really tough,” Melvin said of bouncing between positions.




A’s to open gates early for batting practice on Tuesdays

Wed, 17 May 2017 20:04:02 UT

SEATTLE - For the first time in nearly four years, the A’s will open the gates early so that fans can watch the home team take batting practice. The team announced Wednesday that starting Tuesday against the Marlins, the gates will open one hour earlier, at 4:30 p.m., which coincides with Oakland’s on-field work before most night games at the Coliseum. The A’s usually are wrapping up their batting practice right as the gates open at 5:30 p.m., leaving home fans to watch only the opposing teams hit on the field before the game.




Andrew Triggs solid again in six innings vs. Seattle

Wed, 17 May 2017 06:50:28 UT

Andrew Triggs solid again in six innings vs. “He’s been solid and consistent, just attacking the zone,” outfielder Rajai Davis said. Catcher Josh Phegley helped, throwing out two would-be basestealers. “In a perfect world, I’d like to throw a few more fastballs, but I felt like I had a guy on every inning up until the fifth,” Triggs said. Phegley did such a good job pulling my butt out of the fire a couple of times throwing guys out. Triggs, Oakland’s fourth starter, and No. 5 starter Jesse Hahn have combined for a 6-4 record and a 2.38 ERA. All of the A’s other starting pitchers this year (including Jharel Cotton and Raul Alcantara, both at Triple-A Nashville) have combined for a 6-11 record and a 5.36 ERA. Melvin said that reliever Sean Doolittle (shoulder) would throw at a distance of 90 feet Tuesday; he is expected to be out at least a month. ... John Axford might get one more rehab outing after allowing one hit and striking out three in 11/3 innings with Triple-A Nashville; the A’s hope to get him back this weekend. ... Unlike with season tickets, when the A’s monthly pass begins in June, the team will not count all passes sold as part of the attendance figures. Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Red Sox Red Sox Khris Davis’ homer Monday came against his ex-Brewers teammate Yovani Gallardo — and after Gallardo hit him in the first inning.