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Doolittle feels `awesome’ in finally getting back on mound

Sean Doolittle got into his first game of the season Wednesday, throwing a scoreless sixth inning against the Tigers.

Sean Doolittle got into his first game of the season Wednesday, throwing a scoreless sixth inning against the Tigers.

A day after he came off the disabled list, Sean Doolittle was able to sneak into his first game of the A’s season Wednesday, throwing a scoreless sixth inning.

It won’t look like much in the box score, another one-run loss for the A’s, but it is a major big deal for Doolittle, and for the A’s, even if he didn’t pitch as the closer.

He missed all of spring training with a strained left rotator cuff, then missed the first 48 games of the regular season. He hasn’t had as much work as he would have gotten in a full spring training, but both the pitcher and the team believe Doolittle is good to go.

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Shoulder issues end Kazmir’s day after 3 scoreless innings

The A’s lifted Scott Kazmir after three hitless, scoreless innings against the Tigers with left shoulder tightness.

Video of the left-handed starting pitcher showed him sitting on the bench gesturing about his left shoulder.

It’s not the first bout with shoulder troubles for the veteran lefty, now 31. In 2006, while pitching for Tampa Bay, he spent about three weeks on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation.

In 2010, now with the Angels, Kazmir had left shoulder fatigue, also missing a little more than three weeks.

He had thrown 47 pitches, walking three and striking out four at the time of his departure from the scoreless games.

The A’s turned to Dan Otero, who pitched a scoreless fourth inning while giving up the game’s first two hits.

Oakland’s rotation, minus Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin all last year and all of this year to date with Tommy John surgeries, took a hit on May 18 when Drew Pomeranz developed AC joint trouble in his left shoulder. He’s been on the disabled list since.

Should the A’s need to dip into the minor leagues for a replacement starter, or bullpen help in case the pen gets overworked by pitching the final six innings Wednesday, help is as close as Sacramento, where Oakland’s Triple-A Nashville team is playing.

 

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Tigers pitching switch moves Reddick to second spot for A’s

The Tigers had planned on starting Alfredo Simon (5-2, 2.67) in Wednesday’s finale against the A’s, but he’s left the team with his father gravely ill in the Dominican Republic and is on the bereavement list.

Detroit had hoped to get lefty Kyle Ryan up from Triple-A Toledo to start, but short of renting a private jet they couldn’t get Ryan here on time, although he is expected to be ready to throw in relief, if necessary.

Instead, the Tigers will have to use their bullpen to cover, beginning with right-hander Alex Wilson (1-1, 2.29).

Detroit manager Brad Ausmus called A’s skipper Bob Melvin late Tuesday to let him know of the switch.

“We do feel for Mr. Simon,’’ Melvin said. “It was nice of Brad to call. Not every manager would do that.’’

 

–Josh Reddick is in the A’s starting lineup batting second for the first time this year.

With the addition of Ryan to the bullpen, Detroit can throw three lefties in relief of Wilson, and Melvin didn’t want to have lefties batting back-to-back in too many spots, although the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, Sam Fuld and Eric Sogard, both are lefties.

Melvin said the ability to put switch-hitter Ben Zobrist in between his two biggest RBI produces, Reddick and Stephen Vogt, led to Reddick batting second.

Reddick made five starts batting second last year, without much success, averaging just .111 for his career, he’s made 11 starts there with a .107 average.

 

–On the health watch, starter A.J. Griffin’s progression back from Tommy John surgery will continue Thursday when he pitches two innings of a simulated game before the A’s take on the Yankees in the first of a four-game set.

Sonny Gray, who took a line drive off his right ankle, says he’s good to go for his next start, which will be Friday against the Yankees. “It hurt a little when I threw off the mound Tuesday,” Gray said. “But there shouldn’t be any problem.”

Reliever Eric O’Flaherty is scheduled to throw Wednesday night in relief for Triple-A Nashville on his way back from a left shoulder strain.

First baseman Ike Davis will take batting practice on the field, but he hasn’t run full out yet as he deals with a strained left quad. “A strain is a ripped muscle,’’ Davis said Wednesday morning. “It’s going to take a little time.’’

Lefty starter Drew Pomeranz, trying to make his way back into the rotation after straining an AC joint in his left shoulder, will throw a bullpen session Thursday.

Reliever Edward Mujica is still wearing a small bandage on his right thumb, which was lacerated and which sustained a minor fracture last Thursday. “It’s big,’’ Mujica said, holding his thumb up for inspection. It’s a crazy spot for a fracture. And it’s a minor fracture, but it’s still a fracture and it needs a little time to heal.’’ Melvin said the A’s are hoping Mujica won’t miss much more than the 15-day minimum.

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A’s G.M. Billy Beane has “no idea what Dallas is talking about”

A's general manager Billy Beane said he has no idea what Dallas Braden is talking about when he says the A's had an "application station" to teach minor leaguers how to doctor balls during spring training.

A’s general manager Billy Beane said he has no idea what Dallas Braden is talking about when he says the A’s had an “application station” to teach minor leaguers how to doctor balls during spring training.

OAKLAND — A’s general manager Billy Beane doesn’t seem to be buying into former pitcher Dallas Braden’s claim of widespread doctoring of baseballs during his time with Oakland.

“I didn’t see the quote, but I have no idea what Dallas is talking about,” Beane said a day after Braden detailed his method of doctoring balls on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight.”

“We would have camp and in spring training, we would have different stations where you’re learning,” Braden said. “You’ve got your horn series signs, pickoffs, bunt defense, run down responsibilities.

“And then we had a little station that was the application station. And here, gentlemen, we’re going to learn how to gain an advantage or at least put ourselves in a little bit better position to gain control.” Continue Reading

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Doolittle excited to get his season started, even if it’s not as the closer right away

Sean Doolittle was activated on Tuesday and is set to make his 2015 debut.

Sean Doolittle was activated on Tuesday and is set to make his 2015 debut.

OAKLAND — A’s All-Star closer Sean Doolittle is back on the active roster and thrilled to be back, even if it won’t be as the closer initially.

“That’s the furthest thing from my mind,” Doolittle said of resuming closer duties. “I’m just excited to be back. I’ve told (Bob Melvin), however he wants to use me, I’ll be ready. I’m not even thinking about roles. I’ll just be ready when the phone rings. Hopefully I pitch well to get back in that conversation.”

Melvin, the A’s manager, said Tyler Clippard will hold onto the closer job for now and his hope is to work Doolittle slowly back into the mix. Ultimately, the games will dictate whether that’s realistic.

“Sometimes you get caught where you can’t help but use him in a big situation,” Melvin said. “You’d like to be able to ease him into a game. Throw an inning before you put him into a seventh or eighth inning with a couple guys on, but you never know how it’s going to play out.” Continue Reading

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Ken Korach makes his 2015 broadcast debut

Ken Korach was back on the air for the A's for the first time this season on Monday.

Ken Korach was back on the air for the A’s for the first time this season on Monday.

OAKLAND — Ken Korach was back at the O.co Coliseum on Monday and back on the air.

The A’s lead radio announcer, in his 20th season with the team, has missed the first 46 games while recovering from an injury to his artificial left knee.

Korach was expected to meet with the A’s medical team to evaluate his progress. He was back in the broadcast booth and took over the play-by-play duties for the third inning.

Korach’s return is not on a full-time basis yet, but he will call the occasional game while he continues to return to full health.

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Zobrist returns from the D.L., Doolittle back Tuesday and Cespedes returns to the Coliseum

Ben Zobrist is back from the disabled list. He's not in the the lineup Monday, but is available off the bench and will start Tuesday.

Ben Zobrist is back from the disabled list. He’s not in the the lineup Monday, but is available off the bench and will start Tuesday.

OAKLAND — The A’s activated second basemen/outfielder Ben Zobrist on Monday, a day shy of four weeks since he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

Zobrist isn’t in the lineup on Memorial Day to face the Detroit Tigers, but manager Bob Melvin said he’s available off the bench and will start Tuesday.

The timing of his return marks a bright spot for an A’s team finally seeing some on the field after winning consecutive games Saturday and Sunday for just the second time all year.

The timeline initially for Zobrist’s recovery was 4-6 weeks, so he was certainly pleased to already make his return.

“I felt like it was a pretty quick recovery,” Zobrist said. Continue Reading

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Burns fills in nicely at top of order while A’s are without Coco

Billy Burns glides by third base coach after leading off Sunday's game with his first big league homer.

Billy Burns glides by third base coach after leading off Sunday’s game with his first big league homer.

The A’s don’t have Coco Crisp, and depending on how his neck problems go, it may be quite a while until they get him back.

The A’s are hoping that’s not the case, but the club seems to have found a reasonable substitute. Rookie Billy Burns not only delivered his first big league home run in the A’s 7-2 win Sunday in Tampa to extend the Oakland winning streak to two games, but had two more hits and has been a nice find at the top of the lineup.

He’s hitting .309 overall, .304 in the leadoff spot, and he has a .333 on-base percentage at the top as well. Crisp, whose career leadoff numbers of .258 and .324, is still a man the A’s badly want back healthy and leading their charge, but they have to like what Burns has given them.

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Left field seems likely landing point as Zobrist comes off DL

Ben Zobrist may wind up in left field rather than at second base when he returns to active duty Monday.

Ben Zobrist may wind up in left field rather than at second base when he returns to active duty Monday.

Ben Zobrist comes off the disabled list Monday, will he move back into his old job at second base, or will he get asked to play in left field?

The A’s originally sought him out to be their second baseman, but his versatility was high on Oakland’s list of desirable attributes. And with Coco Crisp on the disabled list, the greater need seems to in left field.

Second baseman Eric Sogard is a steady defensive player who has been on an offensive surge. Coming into Sunday, he’d gone 21-for-66 in his previous 18 games, a .318 average.

Meanwhile the three candidates in left field all have struggled.

Mark Canha, who has made 18 starts in left, brought a career-worst 0-for-20 skid to an end Saturday and is 3-for-41 (.073) in 15 games heading into Sunday.

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Fuld sniffs the sweet smell of success, but needs to repeat it

Sam Fuld combined with Eric Sogard to give the A's hits with runners in scoring position Saturday, something sorely lacking with the A's of late.

Sam Fuld combined with Eric Sogard to give the A’s hits with runners in scoring position Saturday, something sorely lacking with the A’s of late.

Sam Fuld has been around long enough that he knows what a slump feels like.

The 33-year-old left fielder even knows what it feels like to know what it feels like to come out of one. That is one reason his sanity, baseball style, remains mostly intact.

And while it’s too early to say that Fuld’s month-long skid is over, for one day he had an outcome that left him smiling at the end of the day.

On the sixth inning Saturday, he was up against a left-handed pitcher with the game in the balance. Eric Sogard’s single had given the A’s a 1-0 lead, and now Fuld was up with the bases loaded.

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