8

Daric Barton sent down as A’s reinstate Brandon McCarthy from D.L.

Daric Barton was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday morning to clear a spot for Brandon McCarthy, who came off the DL and will start today’s game at Kansas City. I don’t think anyone sees this as a real surprising move at this point. Barton has been struggling and Kila Ka’aihue has been seeing more time at first base. Plus, Barton has options left and Ka’aihue doesn’t, so the A’s could have lost Ka’aihue on waivers had they tried sending him down. He is now the unquestioned starter, the first time the A’s have made a clear-cut choice for the position all year.

Think about the path Ka’aihue has traveled since the start of camp. He was fighting Brandon Allen and Barton just to make the roster. I’ve heard there were a couple situations where he was very close to being designated for assignment as roster moves loomed earlier this season. He’s the last man standing at first. “Kila has done more offensively to get that shot,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s been quite a road for him. He was the guy forecast to be the first out of here as far as first basemen.”

Barton didn’t appear real happy with his demotion (not that I expected him to be). He refused to talk to reporters before leaving Kauffman Stadium.

After Ka’aihue, the other first base options would be Adam Rosales and Josh Donaldson. I was thinking another outside-the-box option might be Jonny Gomes, although Gomes have never played first base in the majors. It seems it might be a decent option with interleague games coming in National League parks. I know a reader on Twitter floated that idea as well. Without a DH in NL parks, putting Gomes at first would allow Melvin to squeeze another right-handed bat in the lineup against lefties, and he could still play whatever outfielders he wanted. But Melvin said he would feel better about Gomes playing first had he gotten some time there in spring training.

–Manny Ramirez has been scratched from Triple-A Sacramento’s past two games with tightness in his left leg. Given he’s hitting just .222 over 10 games, and now he’s having a hard time staying healthy, I’m not sure when we might see Ramirez. There was speculation that he might be called up Monday against Texas, providing the A’s a boost in front of the home fans. But consider that the A’s play just four games in Oakland before heading out for six games at Arizona and Colorado, where they will have no DH available. Are the A’s going to bring Ramirez up for four games at the Coliseum, and then go through a six-game stretch where he can serve only as a pinch hitter? That’s something to think about …

–Reliever Grant Balfour went on a profanity-laced tirade this morning in the clubhouse. Sorting through all the F-bombs, I believe the basic message was: “Let’s finally win a game, guys.” He meant to be light-hearted about it, and it got a lot of chuckles from the guys who were in the clubhouse at the time. Melvin could hear it from his office in the visitor’s clubhouse. “It’s good. I don’t mind a little emotion here,” he said. “I’m glad he got it out.”

Today’s lineups:

A’s — Weeks 2B, Cowgill RF, Reddick DH, Cespedes LF, Ka’aihue 1B, Inge 3B, Crisp CF, Suzuki C, Pennington SS; McCarthy RHP.

KC — Gordon LF, Betancourt 2B, Butler DH, Moustakas 3B, Francoeur RF, Hosmer 1B, Escobar SS, Dyson CF, Quintero C; Hochevar RHP.

2

Yoenis Cespedes is back, starting in left field for A’s

This is the first time I can remember being in Kansas City with no humidity, which is really nice. A lot of times they’ll open the windows in the press box, and this heat wave just blasts you. But it’s breezy. … Check back with me when we’re here again in mid-August. It’ll be a different story …

Yoenis Cespedes is back in the cleanup spot and, as expected, he’s playing left field for the A’s. You say you’re pumped that he’s back? I’m guessing No. 3 hitter Josh Reddick feels the same way. Bob Melvin says he’s noticed Reddick being pitched differently of late without Cespedes waiting in the on-deck circle as protection. “He certainly gets your attention whether he’s swinging the bat or not,” Melvin said.

Cespedes doesn’t anticipate switching from center to left to be a big deal. “A lot of times in Cuba I played left field too,” he said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. He says the toughest plays in left come on balls hit by left-handers. When a right-hander pulls the ball, he knows it’s headed toward the direction of the foul line. A ball off the bat off a lefty can slice and do all kinds of funky stuff. As for hitting, Cespedes said his pitch recognition came back pretty good during three games with Triple-A Sacramento.

Melvin is pulling out all the stops to shake the A’s out of this eight-game losing streak. Seth Smith gets his first look in the No. 2 spot tonight. He has 62 career starts in the second spot, his third-most of any batting order position behind the fifth and sixth spots. “It won’t change anything I do,” Smith said. “I did it in Colorado. Where I hit doesn’t matter. It’s just different situations.”

–Travis Blackley will slide into Tyson Ross’ rotation spot and start Tuesday against Texas (Jarrod Parker goes Monday). Melvin was asked what Ross needs to do to find his way back to the bigs. “He needs to pitch inside more,” Melvin said. “Left-handers were hitting .420 (actually .427), and he needs to develop a consistent offspeed pitch. He’s got two of them that at times are good. We talk about the gap (in velocity) between his fastball and breaking ball. There probably isn’t a big enough one. We’d like him to come up with offspeed that’s maybe in the low 80s or something like that.”

Brandon McCarthy is still on track to come off the DL and start Saturday.

–Non-baseball VIP Alert: Rocker Eddie Money is here tonight. For those wondering, I have no idea if his two tickets are in paradise …

Your lineups:
A’s – Weeks 2B, Smith DH, Reddick RF, Cespedes LF, Ka’aihue 1B, Inge 3B, Crisp CF, Suzuki C, Pennington SS. Colon RHP

KC – Gordon LF, Betancourt 2B, Butler DH, Moustakas 3B, Francoeur RF, Hosmer 1B, Escobar SS, Dyson CF, Quintero C; Paulino RHP.