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Yoenis Cespedes remains out of A’s lineup; Brandon McCarthy to start Tuesday

It’s another unusually hot day at the Coliseum, one of the warmest I can remember for an A’s game. …

–Yoenis Cespedes is out of the lineup again and won’t play Sunday either, according to manager Bob Melvin. The A’s will re-evaluate him after Monday’s day off. Given that, Seth Smith gets another start in left field, which he certainly doesn’t mind. Check the numbers: Smith is hitting .337 with all six of his home runs in 31 games as an outfielder. He’s hitting .178 in 23 games at designated hitter. Obviously when Cespedes returns, Smith — who has provided the A’s a huge left with his bat — will have to go back to DH. Melvin acknowledged that Smith’s hot hitting seems to go hand-in-hand with him playing the outfield. And Melvin quipped: “When he’s DH’ing, he stands in my way too much (in the dugout).” Look for Melvin to get creative in continuing to find ways to keep Smith in the lineup defensively. Exhibit A: Josh Reddick is serving as DH today.

–Tyson Ross gets the call on the mound, and it’s always interesting to see if he can translate success in the minor leagues back up to the big league level. Melvin said the reports were that Ross was handling left-handed hitters better for Triple-A Sacramento and pitching inside more. That’s a key for his success up here. Right now, it’s looking like it could be a short stay for Ross, as Melvin announced this morning that Brandon McCarthy will return to the rotation to start Tuesday against the Dodgers. But the A’s hold Ross in very high regard, and if he throws well, they will find a way to get him back in the rotation soon. Travis Blackley threw well on Friday, so you would think he’ll stay in the rotation for the time being.

–Reliever Evan Scribner was sent down to make roster room for Ross. That’s a tough break for Scribner, who picked up his first major league save last night with three shutout innings. But because he wasn’t going to be available for a day or two after that extended outing, he was the logical option to go down. The A’s also swapped out utility men, promoting Eric Sogard and optioning Adam Rosales to Triple-A.

The lineups:
A’s — Crisp CF, Weeks 2B, Reddick DH, Smith LF, Inge 3B, Moss 1B, Cowgill RF, Suzuki C, Pennington SS; Ross RHP.

Padres — Venable LF, Cabrera SS, Headley 3B, Quentin DH, Kotsay RF, Alonso 1B, Maybin CF, Baker C, Amarista 2B; Ohlendorf RHP.

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A’s release Manny Ramirez

The A’s have released Manny Ramirez, according to a release issued by the team.

The team said Ramirez requested his release and it was granted. Ramirez was hitting .302 with no home runs in 17 games at Triple-A Sacramento after returning from a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy last year.

A release issued by Praver Shapiro Sports Management on behalf of Ramirez said: “Manny believes he has demonstrated that he is ready to return to the Major Leagues. However, given that the Oakland Athletics could not give Manny any assurance that they plan to promote him in the immediate future he asked for his release. Manny thanks the A’s for providing him with this opportunity.”

 

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No DL for McCarthy, Cespedes as A’s return home

Ben Enos filling in for Joe Stiglich.

The A’s return to Oakland tonight with sunny skies and a sunny disposition after a three-game sweep in Colorado. They take on the Padres tonight, as interleague play rolls on.

The news of the evening isn’t earth-shattering, but it is encouraging rather than discouraging. Neither Brandon McCarthy (shoulder) nor Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring) are headed to the disabled list, at least for today.

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Brandon McCarthy to play catch today, but still doubtful for Saturday

The latest from Coors Field, where the A’s go for the sweep to close this six-game road trip …

–Yoenis Cespedes is out of the lineup as expected, but Bob Melvin says he is still an option to DH on the upcoming homestand. Cespedes will do more running drills and be evaluated at the Coliseum. … Brandon McCarthy will play catch today. Considering Melvin says the right-hander would have to throw a bullpen before a potential start Saturday — and we’re just two days away from Saturday — figure he’s out for that day. But Melvin said he’s encouraged that McCarthy will avoid the D.L., so it’s looking like he will only miss one start. The options to pitch Saturday are Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey. Ross is currently listed as Triple-A Sacramento’s starter for tonight, but that can change.

The lineups, with Jemile Weeks getting a day off:
A’s — Crisp CF, Pennington SS, Reddick RF, Smith LF, INge 3B, Moss 1B, Suzuki C, Rosales 2B, Parker RHP.

Rockies — Fowler CF, Scutaro SS, Gonzalez LF, Cuddyer RF, Colvin 1B, Pacheco 3B, Rosario C, Nelson 2B, White RHP.

–I chatted with Josh Outman a bit this morning. He said it wasn’t too strange facing his former team last night because “I only faced like three guys I played with — Weeksie, Cliffy and Donaldson.” Outman is really happy with Colorado, but he did add: “I feel like the green and gold stirrups look better than the black and white. Just the color concept. I heard fans shouting that I look better in green and gold when I was warming up.”

Indeed, there is a sizeable group of A’s fans that made the trip to Denver. You can hear them from the press box. This was an attractive series on the schedule to plan a trip around, no doubt …

1

Jonny Gomes helps A’s to another mile-high victory

I suppose the A’s clinching their series in Colorado does not take top billing for biggest Bay Area baseball story Wednesday night, right? … While Matt Cain was making history in San Francisco, the A’s had a pretty good night too on a much smaller scale. A couple of things to spotlight from Oakland’s 10-8 victory …

–A’s manager Bob Melvin said that not starting Jonny Gomes was the toughest decision he faced in making out Wednesday’s lineup. It turns out that Gomes was needed in a big way. He entered in left field when Yoenis Cespedes left the game after aggravating his left hamstring. All Gomes did was deliver a double and homer in his first two at-bats, part of an ensemble effort that produced the A’s second come-from-behind victory in as many nights. “Part of platooning is mental,” Gomes said. “You’re mentally ready. You don’t turn it off by any means. With Cespedes going down with his hamstring, I guess that’s the reason you don’t turn it off.” If Cespedes comes back fairly soon, Gomes’ playing time could stay reduced. You figure that Cespedes, Coco Crisp/Collin Cowgill and Josh Reddick will see most of the outfield time, with hot-hitting Seth Smith likely to be the DH. Or, if Manny Ramirez finally gets brought up at some point, that will also eat into Gomes’ playing time. But he’s a veteran who knows how to be ready when called upon, as he showed Wednesday night.

–Melvin mentioned that Cespedes — who we learned after the game was taken out mainly for precautionary reasons — could be used at DH some on the next homestand, just to give his sore hamstring a break. If Cespedes takes up DH at-bats, that would make it even less likely that Ramirez is brought up anytime soon. The A’s have a pretty good roll going offensively, so it would be a tough call to decide who to remove from the lineup to accomodate Ramirez right now.

–Smith continues to tear it up at the plate, and he’s loving his return to Coors Field. He is 4 for 9 with a homer, three doubles and four RBI in two games. “I like it here, it’s comfortable,” Smith said. Smith has not hit lefties well over his career, but Melvin batted him third against Josh Outman on Wednesday, and Smith delivered his second homer of this road trip off a lefty.

–You think the A’s wish they could stick around Coors Field a while longer? They’ve turned things around nicely after getting swept in Arizona, and no deficit seems too big to overcome in this ballpark. Jarrod Parker takes the hill Thursday afternoon, and he’ll see if he can get off to a good start so the A’s don’t have to make a big comeback in the first place.

That’s all for now …

1

Yoenis Cespedes back in A’s lineup; Brandon McCarthy’s MRI shows no major damage

The latest from Coors Field, where it’s another really great night for baseball. There’s absolutely no wind at the moment, unlike Tuesday night …

Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes is back in the A’s lineup Wednesday after missing four games with a strained left hamstring. Cespedes said he is not yet back to full strength but is OK to play. “I want to try to control my speed,” he said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. “I’m going to try to run, and if I can go 100 percent I’ll do that. If I have to go 80 to 90 percent, that’s the speed I’m going to do.”

–It appears right-hander Brandon McCarthy’s shoulder injury is not as serious as the A’s feared, but the right-hander could still be bound for the disabled list. “He had an MRI and there weren’t any changes in there,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin, indicating there is no structural damage. “Whether or not he’s able to pitch Saturday, that’s probably in doubt. But I’m not going to rule it out.” Melvin said the A’s would decide Thursday if McCarthy can start Saturday at home against San Diego or whether a D.L. stint is needed. If he can’t pitch, Triple-A starters Graham Godfrey and Tyson Ross are the two candidates to take his place.

–Melvin was chosen by Texas manager Ron Washington as one of his All-Star coaches for the American League squad. “Ron called and asked me, and it didn’t take long to accept that,” Melvin said. “The All-Star Game is a feather in anybody’s cap.” Melvin did not want to discuss publicly who he thinks the A’s top All-Star candidates are, but he said he would likely recommend some names to Washington. The A’s haven’t landed a position player on the All-Star team since catcher Ramon Hernandez in 2003. Given that, Melvin said he “potentially” could push for a position player. Right fielder Josh Reddick would be the obvious candidate at this point if Melvin went that route. He’s leading the A’s in homers (14) and RBI (30), and he’s tied for fifth among AL outfielders with five assists. On the pitching side, it’s hard to ignore rookie reliever Ryan Cook’s numbers. I could see him going as a similar pick to rookie Andrew Bailey back in 2009.

–The A’s are on the verge of signing top draft pick Addison Russell, a shortstop from Pace High School (Fla.). Russell’s high school coach, Charlie Warner, confirmed that Russell is flying to Oakland on Thursday and will be a guest of the A’s at the Coliseum on Friday. Russell told the Pensacola News Journal that his signing bonus is at least the $2.625 million that he was slotted to receive as the No. 11 overall pick. He did not name a specific figure.

The A’s signed four draft picks Wednesday — center fielder Herschel Powell (20th round), right-hander Lee Sosa (26th round), shortstop Christopher Wolfe (30th round) and first baseman John Wooten (37th round).

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s — Weeks 2B, Cowgill CF, Smith RF, Cespedes LF, Inge 3B, Donaldson C, Moss 1B, Pennington SS, Milone LHP.

Rockies — Fowler CF, Scutaro SS, Colvin LF, Cuddyer RF, Helton 1B, Pacheco 3B, Rosario C, Nelson 2B, Outman LHP.

1

Postgame thoughts after A’s 8-5 win over Rockies

Now I know what other writers talk about when they say games at Coors Field are crazy. No lead is safe, which is why the Rockies couldn’t have felt secure after jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. And it’s why the A’s couldn’t have felt at ease sending rookie Ryan Cook to the mound in the ninth with an 8-5 lead. But Cook delivered — after putting the first two batters on base — and notched his first career save. That was one of several things the A’s had to feel good about in winning the opener of a three-game series. Here are some others:

–Brandon Moss enjoyed the kind of game that helps justify the A’s plugging him in as the starting first baseman. He had the first two-homer game of his career. And you had to like the honest answer he gave when asked about three of his four hits with the A’s being homers. He’s hitting .235 in six games. “I’m not a .330 hitter,” Moss said. “I don’t get a lot of singles. Usually I’m trying to drive the ball.”

–Seth Smith continues to rake. He doubled in his first two at-bats, the second one driving in two runs. How’s this for a tear? Over his last seven games, Smith is 13 for 24 with four doubles and seven RBI. He is the guy who will make it tough for the A’s to decide on Manny Ramirez. If he keeps hitting like this, can you afford not to use Smith as the DH? Of course, Smith is getting to play the outfield in National League parks, and he’s much more comfortable doing that than serving as DH.

–After a rough first inning, Bartolo Colon settled in and lasted five innings, picking up the win. It wasn’t pretty but he got it done. Bob Melvin says pitchers have to be patient and not lose their cool if they give up runs at Coors Field. Colon has the perfect mentality to operate that way.

That’s all for now …

18

Brandon McCarthy heads home to get MRI, return to DL is possibility

This three-game series with Colorado is already off to a bad start for the A’s, as right-hander Brandon McCarthy has been scratched from Wednesday’s start. His right shoulder is acting up again and McCarthy has flown back to the Bay Area to get an MRI. A’s manager Bob Melvin said a return trip to the DL is a possibility for McCarthy, who has a history of shoulder problems. “I wouldn’t rule it out,” Melvin said of the DL. Melvin said the current problem involves McCarthy’s scapula (shoulder blade), which raises red flags. Stress reactions in the scapula have been a major contributor to McCarthy’s injury problems of the past. He’s been on the DL seven times total in his career. McCarthy had one start pushed back early in the season with shoulder soreness, then missed two starts on the DL when the shoulder acted up again. Each time he said the problem didn’t involve his scapula. “He’s been sore the past couple of days,” Melvin said. “We’re trying to be proactive here. When he’s pitching, he does feel good. It’s the lead-up days that aren’t great.”

Tommy Milone will now start Wednesday instead of Thursday, with Jarrod Parker moving up to Thursday. Because the A’s were off Monday, each pitcher will still be pitching on regular four days’ rest. Were McCarthy to miss another start, Melvin said the A’s would consider two options who have pitched for the A’s already this year, but he didn’t reveal names. Think Graham Godfrey and Tyson Ross here.

–The injury news on Yoenis Cespedes is much more encouraging for Oakland: His running went really well earlier today. Melvin considers him an option to pinch-hit tonight and said it’s possible he returns to the lineup Wednesday …

–Worth pondering: Whether Manny Ramirez could join the A’s on Friday for the start of a nine-game homestand. Ramirez is starting to find his stroke with Triple-A Sacramento. The A’s will get the DH back Friday. Hmmmm … Melvin was asked whether he thought Ramirez would arrive Friday. “I think anything is possible,” Melvin said. “He’s swinging the bat better now, but nothing has been said to me that (indicates) the timing is Friday.”

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s — Weeks 2B, Crisp CF, Reddick RF, Smith LF, Inge 3B, Moss 1B, Suzuki C, Pennington SS, Colon RHP.

Rockies — Colvin CF, Scutaro SS, Gonzalez LF, Cuddyer RF, Helton 1B, Pacheco 3B, Nelson 2B, Nieves C, Guthrie RHP.

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Sean Doolittle and his ‘lefty quirk’

Sean Doolittle has traveled an unusual path to the major leagues. Here’s a little nugget that didn’t make it into my story from this morning’s paper.  If you’ve seen Doolittle pitch, you’ve noticed his unusual setup when he’s in the stretch. The lefty reliever tucks his glove under his chin with his right elbow jutting out toward home plate. The reason? Doolittle says he likes the glove under his chin because it helps him focus in on the catcher as he’s getting the signals. As for the elbow, he has no idea why that happens and he said he wasn’t even aware of it until some friends started pointing it out recently. “Since then, several people have been like, ‘You gotta keep it, that’s your thing. That’s your little lefty quirk,’” Doolittle said with amusement. “I don’t even think about it when I’m out there.”

–Outfielder Seth Smith will know the landscape of Coors Field better than anyone on the A’s, being he spent his first five seasons with the Rockies. Smith insists that the thin air and high altitude isn’t what helps hitters out the most at the ballpark. He said it’s the spacious outfield. “The advantage for hitters is that the outfield is so big, you get a lot of hits there. For the most part, the home runs are fair. But base hits and extra base hits-wise, (hitters have the advantage).”

Bartolo Colon, who starts tonight for the A’s, has pitched just once previously at Coors Field. It came in 2002, when he threw 6 2/3 innings and allowed three runs to get the win for the Cleveland Indians.

–Here’s a Denver Post notebook discussing the Rockies’ 0-6 start in interleague play.

1

Indoor baseball in Phoenix as the A’s try to avoid a sweep

The roof is closed at Chase Field for today’s series finale, which makes it feel like the A’s and Diamondbacks are playing baseball in a giant Costco (I always use that comparison in these retractable roof stadiums, but it’s true! There’s something about the roof and the lighting that makes me think Costco).

–Several A’s regulars have the day off — Kurt Suzuki, Coco Crisp, Brandon Moss, Seth Smith. And Yoenis Cespedes is out of the lineup for the third straight game with his hamstring injury. The situation is the same as Saturday — if Cespedes felt good after batting practice, Bob Melvin was going to consider using him as a pinch hitter. But Melvin has something to think about here: It’s tempting to get Cespedes’ bat in the game in a crucial situation, but if he hits a ball in the gap, the A’s don’t want him  pushing his hamstring too hard in a full sprint. “Your instincts take over when you hit a ball,” Melvin said. “That’s what I think you have to deal with more than anything.”

The lineups:

A’s — Weeks 2B, Cowgill CF, Reddick RF, Gomes LF, Inge 3B, Pennington SS, Donaldson C, Rosales 1B, Blackley LHP.

D’backs — Roberts 3B, Young CF, Upton RF, Goldschmidt 1B, Kubel LF, Hill 2B, McDonald SS, Blanco C, Saunders LHP.

 

–It’s no wonder Collin Cowgill finds himself in there against lefty Joe Saunders. Cowgill began the season 0 for 10 against left-handers, but he’s 9 for his last 12 against southpaws. That’s a daily decision Melvin will continue to face: Finding playing time for Cowgill while also trying to let Crisp find his rhythm at the plate.

–Just a few games ago, Cliff Pennington couldn’t buy a hit. Now the shortstop is 8 for 18 with four doubles over his past five games. He was in a 3 for 41 slump before that …

Enjoy the game folks …