Back to basics for Kurt Suzuki; Coco Crisp sits with bruised heel

Covering the A’s feels a little like spring training to me right now. With manager Bob Melvin still new on the job, everything he says or does seems newsworthy simply because it’s fresh. … The drills taking place on the infield before batting practice today were certainly unique. Kurt Suzuki was out at second base, taking throws from first baseman Conor Jackson with his catcher’s mitt and appearing to work on popping out of a crouch and getting ready to throw. Infield coach Mike Gallego was throwing soft toss to Landon Powell, who was swinging away at home plate and hitting sharp grounders to Jackson. It all looked like one coordinated multi-tasking drill. Suzuki was getting some catcher’s work in (Melvin and Joel Skinner, another ex-catcher, were working with him); Jackson was fielding grounders and making throws to second; and Powell was getting some hacks in. …

–More on Suzuki: With the starting pitching struggles and inconsistent hitting, it’s easy to lose sight that Suzuki is really struggling. He’s hitting just .184 over his last 23 games and he’s thrown out just four of his last 34 base stealers. He’s out of the lineup for the second time in three games, and Melvin said the pre-game work was geared toward throwing fundamentals and footwork behind the plate. “It’s footwork stuff, keeping himself closed. … I think at times he tries to be too quick. Sometimes you can get a little out of sync. We wanted to get back to basics, keeping his shoulder closed.”

–Rich Harden threw the equivalent of two innings in a simulated game. He faced Ryan Sweeney, Mark Ellis, Landon Powell and Adam Rosales and gave up (by the unofficial press box count) one single with three strikeouts. I haven’t talked to Harden yet, but Melvin said he looked good. Melvin wasn’t sure if another simulated game or a rehab assignment would be next.

–Coco Crisp is sitting tonight with a bruised heel, but Melvin didn’t believe it to be serious.

The lineups:
A’s – DeJesus RF, Pennington SS, Matsui DH, Willingham LF, Sweeney CF, Sizemore 3B, Barton 1B, Powell C, Weeks 2B; Outman LHP.

Royals – Gordon LF, Cabrera CF, Hosmer 1B, Francoeur RF, Butler DH, Moustakas 3B, Treanor C, Getz 2B, Escobar SS; Hochevar RHP.

Joe Stiglich