It’s no ordinary day at the ballpark at Tropicana Field. Extra security is on hand and alert for a possible in-game protest, in response to the Republican National Convention being held in Tampa starting Monday. A convention welcome party will be held at the Trop on Sunday, and the ballpark will be cleared shortly after the game as the Secret Service conducts a security sweep. The Tampa Bay Times has reported a possible plan of 30 to 40 protesters storming the field during the game as a demonstration, and both teams reportedly have been briefed on a possible “flash mob”-style protest. A’s manager Bob Melvin said before the game nobody had talked to him, and A’s player rep Jerry Blevins said the team had not been briefed on anything. But he did say he’s heard the reports of potential protesters. “It’s fun to talk about, but once the game starts, we can’t worry about that,” Blevins said.
Rays manager Joe Maddon told the Tampa Bay Times that a Secret Service official met with him a couple days ago. “They’ve discussed the potential with us – the protestors,” Maddon said. ” … I’m not concerned. According to the people that we’ve spoken with, everything is being prepared for and they are ready for any kind of potential demonstration.” Maddon said Rays players have been instructed to return to the dugout if a large group takes the field. If it was just a single protester, Maddon said the Secret Service would just “send out their best defensive back and tackle them.”
–With all the political discussion, not to mention severe weather from Hurricane Isaac expected to hit the Tampa/St. Petersburg area by Sunday night, there’s a lot of non-baseball news dominating the scene. But there was also significant on-field news for the A’s. Slumping right fielder Josh Reddick was dropped from the third to sixth spot in the lineup today, the first time Reddick has started anywhere other than the third spot since April 15, when he batted fifth. Reddick admitted he’s been pressing of late. “I’ve got no problem with (being dropped) when I’m not producing,” he said. “It’s something that’s expected. Maybe it’s just a little wake-up call to get going and get started again. Maybe get pitched a bit differently and build some confidence back up, hit some balls hard and get right back in the 3 hole.”
Melvin said he just wants to give Reddick “a change of scenery.” “A guy goes through some struggles, you want to change it up a little bit. We expect him to be back in the 3 spot before long, whether it’s a couple days or whatever. This isn’t uncommon over the course of a 162-game season. I can’t remember a season where we’ve had somebody hit in the same spot the whole year.”
–The A’s still haven’t made a decision on Wednesday’s starter. Travis Blackley remains a strong candidate, but Melvin also said he could bump Jarrod Parker up one day to start Wednesday. He would still be on regular four days’ rest with Sunday’s day off. (A couple days ago, I mentioned Brandon McCarthy as a candidate to be moved up to pitch Wednesday. I had Parker and McCarthy flip-flopped in my mind as far as the days they pitch this weekend. Parker was always the option to be pushed up). A third option is to bring back A.J. Griffin from the disabled list that day. Right now, Griffin is scheduled for another rehab start Monday with Sacramento. The A’s would probably prefer not to rush Griffin back, but if Blackley were needed in relief duty before then, it might be more of an option. But I still think Parker coming back Wednesday is more likely than seeing Griffin.
And finally, today’s lineups:
A’s — Crisp CF, Drew SS, Cespedes LF, Smith DH, Carter 1B, Reddick RF, Donaldson 3B, Kottaras C, Pennington 2B; McCarthy RHP.
Rays — Jennings LF, Fuld CF, Joyce RF, Longoria 3B, Zobrist SS, Scott DH, Pena 1B, Roberts 2B, Lobaton C; Hellickson RHP.