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A’s are coo coo over return to health of Coco

Coco Crisp is playing every day, and generating offense, including Monday's homer

Coco Crisp is playing every day, and generating offense, including Monday’s homer

It’s a little curious, isn’t it, that in a season where injuries have washed over the A’s more than at any other time in the last four decades, Coco Crisp is the model of health.

Crisp was in and out of the lineup the final two months of the 2014 season with neck and concussion issues, and similar problems, not to mention elbow surgery in spring training, limited him to just 44 games last year.

This year, when the A’s had a peak of 13 players on the disabled list at one time and when Crisp was supposed to be a part-time player, he’s shown nothing but stamina, durability and, oh yeah, some of that old Coco style.

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Rich Hill gets extra time thanks to off-day heavy schedule

Rich Hill will be getting a little extra time for his groin injury to recover thanks to off-days built into A's schedule.

Rich Hill will be getting a little extra time for his groin injury to recover thanks to off-days built into A’s schedule.

The A’s are feeling a little more kindly to the schedule maker because it may well mean top starter Rich Hill will miss less time.

With the A’s due for days off Thursday, next Monday and again next Thursday, this stretch of the schedule seemed like off-day overkill, and the A’s grumbled some.

Now it seems that Hill, at 8-3 and with a second-in-the-American League 2.25 ERA, will be able to turn that to his advantage, getting an extra day or two off to deal with a mild groin injury. Manager Bob Melvin said before Monday’s game that Hill will get one extra day off, no matter what.

Because of the off day Thursday, Monday starter Kendall Graveman would be able to pitch on his regular fifth day Friday in Houston, the day that would be Hill’s sixth day, so Hill could be pushed back to Saturday against the Astros without difficulty.

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Sonny Gray, R.J. Alvarez getting closer to a return

Sonny Gray had a productive bullpen session before Saturday's game against the Tigers.

Sonny Gray had a productive bullpen session before Saturday’s game against the Tigers.

Sonny Gray and R.J. Alvarez threw bullpen sessions for the A’s Saturday morning, and both pitchers could be ready to return to the A’s before too long.

Manager Bob Melvin said Gray, who threw upwards of three dozen pitches in his session, “was letting it go.’’ It was the most substantial work yet for Gray since going on the disabled list with a right trapezius strain.

“We’ll have him throw off the big mound here Tuesday,’’ the manager said. “It will be up and down, but not with any hitters yet. We’re just looking for health from him.’’

Melvin said no decision has been made yet on whether Gray would need an injury rehabilitation start or a simulated game before returning to the rotation. He’s eligible to come off the DL a week from Sunday with the club in Houston.

Alvarez, who’d hoped to establish himself in the A’s bullpen this year, hasn’t pitched in a game yet after having elbow surgery March 29. He’s had a couple of throwing sessions on the side and on Saturday did up and down sessions, simulating innings, although not facing any hitters.

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Weird interference play helps A’s, but not enough

 

Stephen Vogt was one of the A's left a little confused by an odd interference play in the fifth inning Friday.

Stephen Vogt was one of the A’s left a little confused by an odd interference play in the fifth inning Friday.

One of the oldest sayings about baseball is that on any given day you can see something you’ve never seen before.

Friday’s Oakland-Detroit game was one of those given days.

The Tigers thought they’d scored in the fifth inning when Ian Kinsler tagged up and tried to score from third after A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso made an over-the-shoulder catch in foul territory.

Alonso came up throwing, and Kinsler stopped. But when the ball skittered past catcher Steve Vogt at the plate, Kinsler was able to cross the plate uncontested.

Except that home plate umpire Joe West pointed at Kinsler and said two words: “You’re out.’’

Neither side protested, and the game went on, but it took a while for the assembled multitude in the press box to sort out exactly why Kinsler was out. It turned out that the man who hit the foul ball, Victor Martinez was nicked on the foot by the throw, and that constituted interference that didn’t elude West’s vision. He said there were three different parts of the rule book that said so.

The A’s were, however, a little slow to grasp it.

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Josh Phegley gets welcomed back into Oakland clubhouse; Sonny Gray may be the next off the DL for beleaguered A’s

Catcher Josh Phegley is the latest player to come off DL for the A's.

Catcher Josh Phegley is the latest player to come off DL for the A’s.

The A’s welcomed Josh Phegley back from the disabled list Friday, the second time in three days the A’s have subtracted from the DL rather an adding to it, which the club had been doing for most of April and May.

There’s no telling who could be the next name off the list, but it’s possible it will be starter Sonny Gray joining Phegley and Jed Lowrie, who was activated Wednesday.

The staff ace threw on the side both Thursday and Friday and he’s scheduled for a bullpen session Saturday. Gray is eligible to come off the disabled list a week from Sunday when the A’s are in Houston, and manager Bob Melvin said that day or shortly thereafter Gray could be back if he continues to be without

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Fernando Rodriguez is a major Tommy John success story, throwing harder and sharper than ever out of A’s bullpen

Fernando Rodriguez is three years' removed from Tommy John surgery, and his is a complete success story..

Fernando Rodriguez is three years’ removed from Tommy John surgery, and his is a complete success story..

Much has been made of the A’s issues with pitchers having to undergo ligament replacement in the pitching elbow, or as it’s better known, Tommy John surgery.

Jarrod Parker has not pitched since 2013, twice having undergone Tommy John surgery. This year alone, Felix Doubront and Chris Bassitt have had Tommy John procedures. Each man will miss all of 2016. Just when or if any of the three will pitch in 2017 is up in the air.

There is an upside to all this Tommy John angst. His name is Fernando Rodriguez.

Rodriguez could hit 96, maybe 97 mph on the radar gun on a good day in his first three big league seasons with the Angels, then the Astros. The A’s picked him up before the 2013 with the id that he’d be a strong middle innings reliever, but almost immediately that was scuttled by his needing Tommy John surgery.

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A’s enjoy good news on injury front for once

Jed Lowrie was back in the A's lineup batting fifth and playing second base Wednesday.

Jed Lowrie was back in the A’s lineup batting fifth and playing second base Wednesday.

Assuming you consider any injury news that doesn’t involve the A’s putting someone on the disabled list to be good news, then the A’s had a very good day on the injury front Wednesday.

The activated second baseman Jed Lowrie from the disabled list and said that catcher Josh Phegley would be able to come off the DL on Friday.

Henderson Alvarez, he of the sore shoulder, seems to be past the bulk of the soreness and has begun to throw. He threw up to 75 feet Tuesday and 90 feet Wednesday. The progression will get him to 105 feet, then 120, after which it will be time to get him back on a mound and back on track to rejoining the A’s rotation, probably in mid-June or a little later.

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Coco Crisp is back as an everyday player for A’s

Coco Crisp has gone from part-time outfielder to full time and is back as the A's leadoff hitter.

Coco Crisp has gone from part-time outfielder to full time and is back as the A’s leadoff hitter.

The A’s have struggled to find any kind of identity this year, and the struggle continued when Oakland bullpen couldn’t hold off the first-place Mariners, who rallied for two-run homers in the eighth and ninth to escape with a 6-5 walkoff win.

Even in defeat, outfielder Coco Crisp is doing what he can to give the A’s an identity. They were winners back when he was healthy from 2012-14, going to the post-season each year during that stretch.

He was mostly a non-factor with neck problems in 2015 when the club finished dead last, and coming into to this season he was seen as a fourth outfielder, having ceded both center field and the leadoff spot to Billy Burns.

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Yonder Alonso’s glovework keeps A’s defense together

Yonder Alonso is making fans in A's clubhouse with his defense at first base.

Yonder Alonso is making fans in A’s clubhouse with his defense at first base.

Yonder Alonso didn’t have a hit Monday night in Safeco Field, although it took a nice running catch from former Giant Nori Aoki to deny him.

Nonetheless, Alonso had a quietly huge night for the A’s in a 5-0 win over the Mariners.

In the second inning, he helped starter Rich Hill get out of a bases-loaded jam by spearing a grounder at first base hit by Aoki and throwing a strike to the plate for a force.

In the ninth inning, with Ryan Madson pitching in relief, Alonso snared a bullet off the bat of Dae-Ho Lee and turned what could have been an RBI double into a double play, snuffing out almost the Mariners’ last breath.

The A’s have almost gotten too used to the smooth defense Alonso brings to first base, although pitcher after pitcher, including Hill Monday, is sure to point out the high level at which Alonso is playing defense.

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