0

Melvin sticking with Allen, Weeks makes return at No. 2, Tigers could be celebrating tonight

In for Joe Stiglich tonight

 

No one could have blamed Bob Melvin if he had told Brandon Allen to take a seat for a few days while he was going through an 0 for 22 spell earlier this week, but the A’s manager was intent on letting his first baseman work his way out of it.

 It’s not like Oakland had great options at first, anyway, particularly with Conor Jackson now in Boston. Allen is the guy through the end of the season, and even if he struggles, the A’s are determined to give him a fair chance to be in the mix for the job next year.

 “You start taking a kid out and benching him and that adds to his doubt,” Melvin said. “He’s in a position here where he’s our first baseman and we want to make sure that he goes out there every day knowing we have confidence in him.”

To take a little pressure off, the A’s have moved Allen down in the lineup in recent days so he doesn’t have to worry as much about being a major run-producer. He responded by going 4-for-12 the past three games with a couple of doubles.

“His at-bats have been a lot better,” Melvin said.

 Allen said he’s thankful for the support from the manager.

 “It feels good that he has the confidence in me to believe that I’m going to come out of the little slump I’ve been in,” he said. “I appreciate that and I appreciate my teammates sticking behind me, too, rooting for me.”

 Allen said he hasn’t been making major adjustments because he feels like he’s simply been trying to do too much instead of just reacting to pitches.

 “It’s easy to get down yourself when you have have 25-30 at-bats and you don’t have anything to show for it,” he said. “You just want to get out of it that much harder. It’s just little things, so I don’t want to get too sophisticated with it and make it harder by looking at every little thing that’s wrong.”

 ————

Jemile Weeks returned to the lineup after missing two games with hamstring soreness, but in a new slot. After 75 starts in the leadoff spot and nine others as the No. 9 hitter, Weeks batted second for the first time in the majors.

 “I don’t want Weeks to feel like he has to push it right away,” Melvin said.

 “I batted second in the minors some,” Weeks said. “It’s a little bit different strategically from the two hole, but it’s still the same game.

 ————

 Melvin said he’d like to get closer Andrew Bailey as many appearances as possible before the end of the season.

“I’d like to get his innings up a little more so you’re not uncomfortable the next year increasing them,” he said. “You don’t feel like you’re adding on 20-25 innings.”

 Bailey has thrown just 36 2/3 innings this year after throwing 49 a year ago after missing much of the first half with a strained right forearm.

———————

The Tigers can clinch the AL Central title tonight with a win (Cleveland was winning at Minnesota, so it doesn’t like the Tigers will back in before the game starts). Kind of surprising considering they went to the World Series in 2006 after knocking out the A’s in the ALCS, but the Tigers haven’t won a division title since 1987 when they were in the AL East.

“I think our preference would be that somebody else loses,” Melvin said, “and we win and they can do it later, not out on the field. I think everybody would rather see it that way. Certainly they are a good team. We were fortunate to hold them off last night knowing that if they won, they would have been celebrating.”

Tonight’s lineups:

OAK: CF Crisp, 2B Weeks, LF Matsui, DH Willingham, RF DeJesus, SS Pennington, 1B Allen, C Powell, 3B Sogard

DET: CF Jackson, RF Kelly, LF Young, 1B Cabrera, DH Martinez, C Avile, SS Peralta, 3B Betemit, 2B Santiago

1

Weeks sits again as a precaution

My apologies for dropping this on you a little late, but here’s the pregame scoop.

–A larger Detroit media contingent is on hand than normal, as the Tigers’ magic number to clinch the AL Central is two as I write this. If Cleveland loses at Texas tonight (they’re down 6-0 in the sixth), Detroit can celebrate by winning tonight behind right-hander Max Scherzer. Brandon McCarthy is on the hill for the A’s. He’s 1-3 with a 4.36 ERA in 14 appearances (seven starts) against Detroit.

–Second baseman Jemile Weeks is out of the lineup again, the after-effects of some left leg cramping he suffered last weekend in Texas. Neither he nor manager Bob Melvin is that worried, and Melvin said it’s more precautionary than anything, citing Weeks’ previous injuries in the minors (which were mainly hip-related). Weeks said the soreness he feels now is centered in his hamstring. “Certain movements are just not as quick as I want to be.”

–No further word on outfielder Ryan Sweeney’s quad strain. He didn’t do any baseball work today, and it remains unknown if he’ll play again this season. But Coco Crisp returns to the lineup after missing five games with a sore right ankle.

–A little while back I posted a review of the Oakland Coliseum by Paul Swaney of stadiumjourney.com. Here’s a review he did of Banner Island Ballpark, home of the Single-A Stockton Ports. The Ports begin a playoff series tonight against Lake Elsinore, and they host games Saturday and Sunday.

If you’ve been to both Banner Island Ballpark and Raley Field, home of Triple-A Sacramento, which do you prefer?

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s — Crisp CF, Pennington SS, Matsui DH, Willingham LF, DeJesus RF, Sizemore 3B, Allen 1B, Suzuki C, Sogard 2B; McCarthy RHP.

Tigers — Jackson CF, Ordonez RF, Young LF, Cabrera 1B, Martinez DH, Avila C, Peralta SS, Betemit 3B, Santiago 2B; Scherzer RHP.

2

Lineups and a look at the A’s 2012 schedule

The lineups for the A’s-Angels series finale:

A’s — Pennington SS, Suzuki C, Matsui DH, Willingham LF, DeJesus RF, Sizemore 3B, Sweeney CF, Allen 1B, Sogard 2B; Harden RHP.

Angels — Aybar SS, Kendrick 2B, Abreu DH, Hunter RF, Trumbo 1B, Callaspo 3B, Wells LF, Bourjos CF, Mathis C; Weaver RHP.

–It’s just a regular day off for Jemile Weeks. Manager Bob Melvin said he thought Weeks showed a bit of fatigue last night and wanted to give him a rest.

–In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the A’s 2012 schedule, just released this morning. There’s a significant change from earlier drafts of the schedule, pertaining to Oakland’s interleague opponents. The A’s will travel to Arizona and Colorado, and they’ll host the Dodgers and San Diego Padres. …

April

6 Seattle
7 Seattle
8 Seattle
9 Kansas City
10 Kansas City
11 Kansas City
12 Off Day
13 at Seattle
14 at Seattle
15 at Seattle
16 at Los Angeles AL
17 at Los Angeles AL
18 at Los Angeles AL
19 at Los Angeles AL
20 Cleveland
21 Cleveland
22 Cleveland
23 Chicago AL
24 Chicago AL
25 Chicago AL
26 Off Day
27 at Baltimore
28 at Baltimore
29 at Baltimore
30 at Boston

May

1 at Boston
2 at Boston
3 Off Day
4 at Tampa Bay
5 at Tampa Bay
6 at Tampa Bay
7 Off Day
8 Toronto
9 Toronto
10 Detroit
11 Detroit
12 Detroit
13 Detroit
14 at Los Angeles AL
15 at Los Angeles AL
16 at Texas
17 at Texas
18 at San Francisco
19 at San Francisco
20 at San Francisco
21 Los Angeles AL
22 Los Angeles AL
23 Los Angeles AL
24 Off Day
25 New York AL
26 New York AL
27 New York AL
28 at Minnesota
29 at Minnesota
30 at Minnesota
31 Off Day

June

1 at Kansas City
2 at Kansas City
3 at Kansas City
4 Off Day
5 Texas
6 Texas
7 Texas
8 at Arizona
9 at Arizona
10 at Arizona
11 Off Day
12 at Colorado
13 at Colorado
14 at Colorado
15 San Diego
16 San Diego
17 San Diego
18 Off Day
19 Los Angeles NL
20 Los Angeles NL
21 Los Angeles NL
22 San Francisco
23 San Francisco
24 San Francisco
25 at Seattle
26 at Seattle
27 at Seattle
28 at Texas
29 at Texas
30 at Texas

July

1 at Texas
2 Boston
3 Boston
4 Boston
5 Seattle
6 Seattle
7 Seattle
8 Seattle

9-12 All Star Game at Kansas City, MO

13 at Minnesota
14 at Minnesota
15 at Minnesota
16 Texas
17 Texas
18 Texas
19 New York AL
20 New York AL
21 New York AL
22 New York AL
23 Off Day
24 at Toronto
25 at Toronto
26 at Toronto
27 at Baltimore
28 at Baltimore
29 at Baltimore
30 Tampa Bay
31 Tampa Bay

August

1 Tampa Bay
2 Toronto
3 Toronto
4 Toronto
5 Toronto
6 Los Angeles AL
7 Los Angeles AL
8 Los Angeles AL
9 Off Day
10 at Chicago AL
11 at Chicago AL
12 at Chicago AL
13 Off Day
14 at Kansas City
15 at Kansas City
16 at Kansas City
17 Cleveland
18 Cleveland
19 Cleveland
20 Minnesota
21 Minnesota
22 Minnesota
23 at Tampa Bay
24 at Tampa Bay
25 at Tampa Bay
26 Off Day
27 at Cleveland
28 at Cleveland
29 at Cleveland
30 at Cleveland
31 Boston

September

1 Boston
2 Boston
3 Los Angeles AL
4 Los Angeles AL
5 Los Angeles AL
6 Off Day
7 at Seattle
8 at Seattle
9 at Seattle
10 at Los Angeles AL
11 at Los Angeles AL
12 at Los Angeles AL
13 at Los Angeles AL
14 Baltimore
15 Baltimore
16 Baltimore
17 Off Day
18 at Detroit
19 at Detroit
20 at Detroit
21 at New York AL
22 at New York AL
23 at New York AL
24 at Texas
25 at Texas
26 at Texas
27 at Texas
28 Seattle
29 Seattle
30 Seattle

October

1 Texas
2 Texas
3 Texas

1

A’s get good medical news on Bailey, Crisp

It’s another pleasant night at the Coliseum, where Guillermo Moscoso takes the mound for the A’s against the Angels’ Jerome Williams. Talk about two guys who weren’t in the picture for their teams when this season began. Williams, the former Giant, has been very solid for the Angels. He’s won all three of his starts since being called up from the minors Aug. 17.

–A’s closer Andrew Bailey said he was expecting to be available tonight. His concussion test and X-rays came back negative after he was struck in the left temple by a line drive Monday in batting practice. Bailey still seemed shocked that Kurt Suzuki’s liner made a beeline for him while he stood in left field. “‘Zuk’ really doesn’t pull the ball in the first round (of BP),” Bailey joked. He still has a slight headache but does not seem too concerned. A’s manager Bob Melvin said he would wait to see how Bailey felt after playing catch before deciding if Bailey was an option tonight.

Melvin added that yesterday’s incident was one of those random occurrences that really can’t be avoided. “There are so many balls struck during the course of the day — one guy hitting ground balls here, another guy throwing across the diamond. Really, it’s amazing that it doesn’t happen more often,” Melvin said.

–Coco Crisp’s MRI on his right ankle came back negative, and Melvin expects his center fielder to play again this season, but he wasn’t giving a date. Ryan Sweeney draws the start again in center tonight.

–Moscoso makes his first start since throwing 129 pitches in his last outing Wednesday. Melvin reiterated how uncomfortable he felt as Moscoso’s pitch count crept up in that start (he hadn’t thrown more than 109 previously). But with Moscoso going on five days’ rest, Melvin said he won’t keep Moscoso on a tight leash tonight. And Melvin had an interesting take on that 129-pitch effort. “I think in the long run it might be good for him. He started out here as basically a six-inning pitcher. Now he’s going deeper in games. He wants to go deeper in games. And he’s a guy that’s been healthy, so I think all in all it’s been good for him.”

–First baseman Brandon Allen, in an 0 for 21 funk, is back in the lineup. Melvin said he thought Allen’s at-bats got better as last night’s game progressed, and he wants him to try building on that.

The lineups:

A’s — Weeks 2B, Pennington SS, Matsui LF, Willingham DH, Sizemore 3B, Sweeney CF, Suzuki C, Allen 1B, Taylor RF; Moscoso RHP.

Angels — Izturis 2B, Kendrick 1B, Abreu DH, Hunter RF, Callaspo 3B, Wells LF, Aybar SS, Bourjos CF, Conger C; Williams RHP.

1

A’s closer Andrew Bailey struck by liner in batting practice, not available tonight

The A’s had a scary moment during batting practice when closer Andrew Bailey was hit in the left temple by a line drive off the bat of Kurt Suzuki and fell to the ground. A huge group of teammates and coaches gathered around Bailey, but after a few moments, he left the field under his own power with a trainer. He’ll be held out of tonight’s game and undergo a concussion test, though an initial doctor’s exam indicated no concussion. Bailey said he just has a slight headache, and he’s sporting a red spot where he got hit. “Thank God I was wearing my Oakley sunglasses,” Bailey said afterward.

Suzuki wasn’t available to reporters in the clubhouse before media access was over. But he walked over to Bailey as Bailey was leaving the field and gave his teammate a hug. Bailey smiled at him. “Just rake tonight,” Bailey told him.

Long story short, a scary scene that could have turned out much worse …

–Center fielder Coco Crisp is out of the lineup again and was scheduled for an MRI today on his right ankle. This injury stems from Crisp fouling a ball off his foot in a Sept. 3 game. The pain is more located in his ankle now, A’s manager Bob Melvin said. Melvin is hopeful of getting Crisp back before season’s end, but I’d think that will depend on what the MRI shows. Unless the injury turns out to be incredibly minor, I wouldn’t be surprised if Crisp is shut down. There’s no use subjecting the guy to greater injury with just 16 games left and no shot at the playoffs. Would Crisp want to get back in to try to win the AL stolen base title? He trailed the Yankees’ Brett Gardner by three steals entering today. It’s a good question. Crisp hasn’t addressed his injury with beat writers yet.

This increases the chances of Michael Taylor and/or Jai Miller getting more outfield time. But Melvin said there’s a delicate balance to strike with the A’s playing so many games against teams fighting for playoff spots — he feels a degree of obligation to put a credible lineup on the field, as opposed to just loading his batting order with prospects.

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s — Weeks 2B, Pennington SS, Matsui DH, Willingham LF, DeJesus RF, Sweeney CF, Suzuki C, Allen 1B, Sizemore 3B; Gonzalez LHP.

Angels — Izturis 3B, Bourjos CF, Kendrick 2B, Hunter RF, Trumbo 1B, Wells DH, Trout LF, Aybar SS, Mathis C; Pineiro RHP.

4

Moscoso loses no-hitter with two outs in the eighth

Guillermo Moscoso lost his no-hit bid with two outs in the top of the eighth, when Salvador Perez lined a 2-2 pitch into right field for a clean single. Moscoso had 11 straight hitless innings dating back to Friday. He’s been dialed in all day, giving up just a sixth-inning walk for his only other base runner.

Moscoso is at 106 pitches and Fautino De Los Santos is warming up pretty leisurely in the bullpen. It looks like Moscoso will get a chance for his first complete game in the majors.

2

Moscoso has no-hitter through seven innings vs. Royals

An update from the Coliseum …

A’s starter Guillermo Moscoso has a no-hitter intact through seven innings against the Royals. Moscoso is at 90 pitches and really hasn’t given up much hard contact, although he has just three strikeouts. The closest thing to a hit so far was Johnny Giavotella’s liner to left-center in the fourth, on which Coco Crisp made a nice running grab. Moscoso set an Oakland record by retiring 30 consecutive batters — stretching to his last start Friday. One batter after setting the mark, he walked Alcides Escobar with two outs in the sixth for his first base runner.

3

Adam Rosales draws a start at first base

I checked the A’s lineup this morning and there was an Adam Rosales sighting. Remember him? Rosales gets his first start since being recalled from the minors Friday. He’s spelling Brandon Allen at first base. Rosales is an easy guy to pull for, based on his hustle and the way he approaches the game in general. He’s been playing catch-up since spring training, when he was slowed while recovering from a fractured right foot. It’s no surprise that he plans to play winter ball in Mexico. He needs as many at-bats as he can get. There’s a place for Rosales on this team when he’s healthy and getting semi-regular playing time. He can play all over the infield and even left field in a pinch. It’ll be interesting to see how he looks today.

–A’s manager Bob Melvin said he’ll decide after Thursday’s off-day whether he’ll wedge a spot starter into the rotation in order to give some pitchers extra rest. Brandon McCarthy and Rich Harden, who have extensive injury histories, remain the most likely guys to be given an extra day or two. And Melvin mentioned Josh Outman as a candidate to make one of those spot starts.

–It’s a warm afternoon at the Coliseum. Good for balls flying over the fence? We’ll see …

The lineups:
A’s — Weeks 2B, Crisp CF, Matsui DH, Willingham LF, Sizemore 3B, Pennington SS, Suzuki C, Taylor RF, Rosales 1B; Moscoso RHP.

Royals — Gordon LF, Giavotella 2B, Butler DH, Hosmer 1B, Francoeur RF, Maier CF, Perez C, Moustakas 3B, Escobar SS; Chen LHP.

4

Willingham gets Stewart award, verifies he’ll file for free agency

In for Joe Stiglich …

Adding to what has already been a solid year for Josh Willingham in Oakland, the outfielder will receive the 2011 Dave Stewart Community Service Award prior to Wednesday’s game.

Willingham and his wife Ginger raised more than $100,000 through silent auctions to aid relief efforts in the wake of devastation by tornadoes in the Willingham’s native Alabama.

During the All-Star break, Willingham also traveled to Alabama to visit with families affected by the tornadoes and assist in cleanup efforts. During the visit, the outfielder presented personal checks to two high schools from the hardest-hit areas to repair baseball fields that were destroyed.

Willingham’s wife led more than 200 volunteers in a cleanup effort of vairous towns in and around Florence, Ala., where the the couple lives with their two children. The Willinghams are also working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to build nine tornado protection shelters around the north half of the state.

On the baseball front, Willingham said Tuesday that he has not had any discussions with the A’s about a contract extension and that he would file for free agency at season’s end.

“This is my first time to do it, and I don’t really know what to expect, so I’m going to go into free agency with an open mind and see what happens,” he said. “I don’t really have a timetable for anything, and as far as next year, I have no idea what’s going to happen.”

Willingham, who leads the A’s with 23 home runs and 81 RBIs, said he would not rule out a return to Oakland based on the good experience he’s had here.

“We haven’t had the on-field success,” he said. “Obviously, coming to spring training, we thought we’d have a better record. But my experience has definitely been a positive one. I’ve built up a lot of good relationships with players and coaches.”

The outfielder did admit that playing so baseball so far away from Alabama is a challenge.

“It’s difficult to travel with family, especially with two kids,” he said. “But I’d say that’s the only difficult part, and I don’t think it’ll impact my decision about next year.”

——–

Coco Crisp, originally in the starting lineup, was scratched due to right foot soreness suffered when he fouled a ball off his foot Saturday in Cleveland.

——

Even though the A’s are still first in the AL in errors, manager Bob Melvin sees some gradual improvement.

“I’d like to clean it up a little bit more,” Melvin said. “We’re still last in the league error-wise, but you’re seeing some better plays. I think for the most part we’re making the routine play a little bit better, but we have to do it consistently. It’s not something we feel like we’re past.”

——–

Really, REALLY small crowd at O.co tonight. Might be the smallest in years, although surely it will be announced as more than the 3,000-ish I see.



5

More matinee baseball at the Coliseum

It’s the third day game in a row at the Coliseum, which is pretty unusual. And it makes the days all feel the same, sort of like spring training. This definitely feels like a Sunday afternoon more so than Monday.

On to baseball …

Coco Crisp remains out with a sore right foot, but A’s manager Bob Melvin said it’s a day to day thing that’s getting better. Ryan Sweeney draws the start again in center field, and Melvin praised the way Sweeney can handle center when called upon. “This can be a very difficult center field to play in day games,” Melvin said. “The last few innings are as tough in center field sun-wise as you’re going to find anywhere. He handles it very well.”

Melvin also said he plans to start Michael Taylor in the outfield Tuesday and Wednesday. The Royals are throwing lefties both days (Danny Duffy and Bruce Chen), though Melvin says he’s willing to use the right-handed hitting Taylor against right-handers too …

The lineups:
A’s — Weeks 2B, Pennington SS, Matsui DH, Willingham LF, DeJesus RF, Allen 1B, Sweeney CF, Suzuki C, Sizemore 3B; Harden RHP.

Royals — Gordon LF, Cabrera CF, Butler DH, Hosmer 1B, Francoeur RF, Moustakas 3B, Giavotella 2B, Perez C, Escobar SS; Paulino RHP.