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Brett Anderson is close to rejoining Oakland A’s rotation — only question is when

It goes without saying the A’s need to salvage a victory here before leaving Kansas City, just to get momentum rolling back in their direction. They’ve got Josh Reddick back in the lineup, though he’s serving as DH. The dental problem is still bothering him, and Reddick was walking around the clubhouse today holding an ice pack to his cheek. It didn’t stop him from granting a lengthy interview to a Kansas City-based reporter. The guy is as media-friendly as they come …

As the A’s begin a six-game homestand Friday, it appears they’ll welcome some reinforcements soon. Brett Anderson was solid in a five inning, 96-pitch rehab start for Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday. Manager Bob Melvin said Anderson will throw a bullpen session in Oakland in the next few days before the team evaluates when he returns. That throwing session can come whenever the A’s and Anderson want to plan it, and Melvin noted, “I think the (timing of) the bullpen will have more to do with when he might start.” So let’s speculate on when Anderson will come off the D.L. and pitch his first game for Oakland. I could see the A’s targeting Tuesday’s game against Minnesota. That would be Dan Straily’s day to pitch (Straily also goes tonight), but if the A’s wanted to wedge Anderson in there, it would give Straily and Tommy Milone an extra day of rest. Jarrod Parker is due to pitch Sunday, and though he’s struggled, the A’s wouldn’t bring Anderson back on three days’ rest to take the ball then. Melvin still hasn’t given an indication if the A’s will go to a six-man rotation or not, but the idea certainly seems to make sense.

–Seth Smith will run the bases when the A’s get to Oakland, and that will give the team an idea of where he stands in his rehab from a hamstring injury. But he appears to be coming along well. Melvin expects Smith to play a couple of minor league rehab games before being activated. You have to figure the addition of any hitter would be welcome right now given how the offense has looked against the Royals.

–Jonny Gomes and several of his teammates watched in the clubhouse as Petaluma National won its Little League World Series opener 6-4 over New England on Thursday afternoon. Melvin caught a bit of the game too. “I didn’t realize they wore green and gold,” he said. “That was nice to see.” … Gomes said fundraising efforts to help cover travel costs for families of the Petaluma players is approaching $65,000. Several businesses in Petaluma have kicked in contributions …

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s — Crisp CF, Weeks 2B, Reddick DH, Cespedes LF, Carter 1B, Moss RF, Donaldson 3B, Norris C, Pennington SS; Straily RHP.

Royals — Dyson CF, Escobar SS, Gordon LF, Butler DH, Perez C, Moustakas 3B, Francoeur RF, Hosmer 1B, Getz 2B; Hochevar RHP.

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Postgame notes as the Oakland A’s drop their second straight in Kansas City

It’s lean times for the A’s right now, as they’re 1-4 so far on this six-game road trip. Here’s a couple thoughts that stick out from Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

–Should left fielder Yoenis Cespedes have hauled in that double from Lorenzo Cain that tied the game with two outs in the seventh inning? That’s a tough call. I’ve watched the replay several times, and I think it would have been a great catch had he made the play. But bottom line, Cespedes gets exposed on balls like that. I actually think he’s started to look better in left field lately, but on balls hit straight back that he has to chase to the wall, he just isn’t giving himself a chance to make the catch. On Cain’s double, Cespedes took his eyes off the ball as he approached the wall. He seems to not have a sense of where the wall is when he makes his jump. And if you’re unaware of how close you are to the wall, it’s obviously going to be tough to concentrate on making a catch. The A’s are working diligently with Cespedes on his defense, but it’s hard to simulate plays like Cain’s double. Such plays are game-changers, especially with the A’s struggling offensively as they are in Kansas City.

–Brandon McCarthy was ticked at himself after the game for letting the Royals’ seventh-inning rally unfold as it did. But McCarthy also said he and rookie catcher Derek Norris had a mix-up regarding pitch location on Cain’s double. “It was a misunderstanding,” McCarthy said. “Before I threw the pitch, I didn’t know we were going in. It was just a bad job by me communicating.”

Norris has worked very hard at learning the A’s staff since he was called up for the first time June 21. But he’s gotten a lot of responsibility dumped on his shoulders since taking over the everyday catching job when veteran Kurt Suzuki was traded Aug. 3. Who’s to say what the cause was of Wednesday night’s mix-up with McCarthy? But when there is a miscommunication, it exposes the fact that the A’s are entering the heat of a pennant race with an inexperienced rookie handling an extremely demanding position. Norris shows the maturity and work ethic to handle it as best as can be expected, but it’s a tough spot for a young player to be in.

–You would think the A’s had a chance to do damage with three games against the Royals, who are 51-65. Now consider this: Oakland has lost four of five in the Royals’ home park this season, and they’ve scored a combined two runs in those four losses.

The A’s will send rookie Dan Straily to the mound Thursday night as they try to avoid a sweep …

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Josh Reddick out of Oakland A’s lineup with tooth problem

There was a late lineup switch for the A’s today, with Josh Reddick scratched because of a problem stemming from a tooth he had pulled Monday. So here’s a reworked A’s batting order:

Oak — Crisp CF, Gomes RF, Cespedes LF, Carter DH, Norris C, Donaldson 3B, Moss 1B, Rosales 2B, Pennington SS; McCarthy RHP.

KC — Gordon LF, Escobar SS, Butler DH, Moustakas 3B, Perez C, Francoeur RF, Hosmer 1B, Cain CF, Getz 2B; Smith LHP.

Bob Melvin thinks maybe this day off could be a blessing in disguise for Reddick, who is batting .134 (9 for 67) with 26 strikeouts over his last 15 games. It’s obvious Reddick has looked out of sync at the plate lately. He’s played in a team-high 111 games, goes all out in right field and carries a big load as the No. 3 hitter. “He’s not 6-3, 235, he’s a slight guy and plays very hard,” Melvin said. “It’s good to get days off every now and then, and it’s just difficult for us to give him a day off because he means so much to the lineup.”

–Jemile Weeks gets a day off today with Adam Rosales playing second base. Melvin said he likes the way Rosales has swung the bat lately and doesn’t want him sitting too long between chances to play. “True to form with a lot of guys brought up from Triple-A, you get them in there on a semi-regular basis and they’re producing for us.”

–Lots of A’s players were gathered around the clubhouse TVs today watching Felix Hernandez’s perfect game unfold. Obviously, Oakland hitters are quite familiar with Hernandez’s ability. So is Melvin, who was managing Seattle when Hernandez was a hotshot prospect for the Mariners. “He was in the minor leagues, like 18 years old,” Melvin said. “I asked to see him one time and they wouldn’t even let me see him. He’s quite a talent. You think of anyone around the game who’s got the stuff to pitch a perfect game, and he’s certainly one of those guys.”

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Pregame roundup as A’s open a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals

There was lots of pregame A’s news today, and you can find it all on our website. Brandon Inge went on the 15-day D.L. Dallas Braden is having a second surgery on his left shoulder, and Jonny Gomes is trying to raise money for his hometown Petaluma team that is playing in the Little League World Series.

I’ll keep this brief, since the A’s and Royals are already underway. … Josh Donaldson was called up from Triple-A to take Inge’s roster spot, and Bob Melvin said Donaldson will be the main guy playing third in Inge’s place, with Adam Rosales serving as the utility man. “We feel like the best way to do this right now is with Josh as the primary third baseman,” Melvin said. “Each and every time you get here, it’s another opportunity for you, similar to what Chris Carter has done. We hope things work out for (Donaldson) as well as they have for Chris.”

–Brett Anderson will make another rehab start for Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday at New Orleans, and indications are that it will be his final outing before coming off the D.L. if it goes well for him. The A’s want him to get to 100 pitches.

–Seth Smith (strained hamstring) is running and swinging the bat, so he appears to be coming along well during his D.L. stint. It shouldn’t be long before he’s back.

That’s all for now, folks …

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A’s postgame notes: Brandon Inge getting an MRI on shoulder, and what his potential absence would mean

Remember that blog I wrote Sunday morning, when I said that A’s third baseman Brandon Inge was optimistic of playing as early as Tuesday despite his injured right shoulder? Things have changed regarding his status. We learned after the A’s 7-3 loss Sunday that Inge will fly back to Oakland on Monday to get an MRI on his shoulder after dislocating it during Saturday night’s game. Inge stayed in the game that night — even popped the shoulder back into place on his own — but it was very sore on Sunday. The A’s want to proceed cautiously with him, and Inge said he agreed with the decision to get an MRI to make sure there’s no structural damage. And though he labeled the decision as precautionary, manager Bob Melvin said the D.L. is a possibility.

This will be no minor loss if Inge is sidelined for 15 days or longer. He’s having a very strange offensive season — a .216 hitter who nonetheless has been a pretty good run producer. Inge’s 52 RBIs rank third on the A’s, and 50 of those have come since Inge joined Oakland on April 30 after being released by Detroit. He’s very solid with the glove and has scored points within the organization for his veteran leadership. He has been a good “glue” guy, as the cliche goes. But it’s tougher for veterans to wield that influence when they’re not in the lineup on a daily basis. So Inge’s status is something to keep an eye on …

–A’s pitchers have been bitten by the home run bug lately, as they’ve allowed 12 homers over the last four games alone. I’ll be interested to see Jarrod Parker’s start Tuesday at Kansas City, and whether he benefits from the two extra days of rest the A’s are giving him. A good effort from Parker would set a good tone for Oakland in the three-game series at Kauffman Stadium.

–Speaking of the Royals, their 49-65 record doesn’t mean the A’s will coast for the next three games. They’re 3-3 against Kansas City this year. Four of the games have been decided by two runs or fewer, and the Royals have held them to one run or fewer in four of those contests.

Talk to you from KC …

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Brandon Inge is not in Oakland A’s lineup, he hopes to return Tuesday

It’s getaway day for the A’s here in Chicago, and though there are clouds overhead, here’s hoping there is no rain to delay us … The pregame updates:

–Brandon Inge is not playing today, but with two days off (the A’s don’t play Monday) he’s hoping his right shoulder will be ready to go for Tuesday’s game in Kansas City. Inge dislocated the shoulder last night but popped it back into place and stayed in the game. How does it feel today? “It’s pretty damn sore,” Inge said. “All the adrenaline wore off from last night.” Inge has dislocated his left shoulder several times with varying degrees of seriousness. In 2001, he had a collision at home plate and dislocated it bad enough to go on the D.L. In the next couple of instances, he only missed a few days. We should have a better read on his condition Tuesday …

Adam Rosales draws the start at third in Inge’s place. That’s two starts in a row for Rosales in front of family and friends. He is from nearby Park Ridge and has stayed at his parents’ place during this series. “He’s here at home, he gets to play another game in his home town, there’s always something to that,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.

–Brandon McCarthy’s shoulder is responding well after his first start back from the D.L., so he is slated to start Wednesday on regular days’ rest, with rookie Dan Straily going Thursday. Melvin likes the idea of giving Straily a little extra rest, but he also wants to keep McCarthy on his regular five-day schedule. “He’s routine-oriented,” Melvin said. “Similar to (Bartolo) Colon, those are the guys you want to keep on schedule and give some of the younger guys that haven’t pitched this long (some extra rest).”

Today’s lineups:

A’s — Crisp CF, Gomes DH, Reddick RF, Cespedes LF, CArter 1B, Norris C, Rosales 3B, Pennington SS, Weeks 2B; Colon RHP.

White Sox — De Aza CF, Beckham 2B, Dunn 1B, Rios RF, Pierzynski C, Ramirez SS, Viciedo DH, Wise LF, Olmedo 3B; Sale LHP.

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Ryan Cook removed from Oakland A’s closer role for time being

The A’s are back to a closer-by-committee approach for the time being, and that really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Rookie Ryan Cook has struggled over his past several outings, and A’s manager Bob Melvin said he would like to get Cook an outing or two without the pressure of a save situation. “Whether we’re up by a couple in the seventh or whether we’re down by a couple in the eighth, we’d like to get him a nice clean inning where it’s not of the magnitude of closing,” Melvin said. “That doesn’t mean he’s lost his job, it means maybe we’re targeting a spot for him that’s not closing at this point.”

Who will handle the ninth tonight if the A’s have a lead? Good question, and Melvin said before the game he didn’t know yet. “It might have something to do with how we feel at the time and how we get there.” That means that some relievers might be needed in a crucial seventh or eighth inning situation, and therefore wouldn’t be available for a save. But Melvin did say that Sean Doolittle probably isn’t available after throwing two innings last night. Figure that Grant Balfour will be the first choice to close tonight.

Thinking more long term, I don’t think the A’s have a natural alternative to Cook in the closer’s role, and it’s really an issue of concern for this team down the stretch. Balfour is streaky, and he just doesn’t seem to perform his best in a closing role. Doolittle? He’s got the stuff, but I think his inexperience would expose him fairly quickly, as it has Cook. Jordan Norberto? He’s not a long-term solution either. Suffice it to say, the ninth inning won’t be boring in the coming days if you’re an A’s fan …

–Melvin said Brett Anderson is likely to make one more start for Triple-A Sacramento so he can get his pitch count to 100. But Melvin stopped short of guaranteeing that, and you have to think that Brandon McCarthy’s health ties into this. Melvin says the team is waiting until Sunday to decide whether McCarthy will start Wednesday or Thursday. The A’s have to take McCarthy’s health on a start-by-start basis right now, and were he not able to go for some reason, Anderson is on the same turn as McCarthy and could slide into the rotation. Anderson threw six shutout innings for the River Cats on FRiday night.

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s — Crisp CF, Gomes DH, Reddick RF, Cespedes LF, Carter 1B, Inge 3B, Norris C, Rosales SS, Weeks 2B; Blackley LHP.

White Sox — De Aza CF, Youkilis 3B, Dunn 1B, Rios RF, Pierzynski DH, Ramirez SS, Viciedo LF, Flowers C, Beckham 2B; Liriano LHP.

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A’s push Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker back in rotation to give them extra rest

The Windy City is living up to its nickname tonight. There’s a heavy breeze whipping through U.S. Cellular Field as the A’s and White Sox open a three-game series. There’s also some Oakland rotation news to report …

Tommy Milone and Jarrod Parker both are having their starts pushed back in order to give the rookies some extra rest. Milone was originally scheduled to throw Saturday. Travis Blackley is being inserted in that spot, and Milone will not pitch again until next Friday’s home opener against Cleveland. So he’s being skipped for a full turn through the rotation. Parker was scheduled to go Sunday, but he’ll be pushed back two days to Tuesday and start the series opener at Kansas City. Bartolo Colon will now pitch Sunday, and he’ll be on regular rest thanks to Thursday’s day off.

“We’ve been looking to potentially do this for a while now,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Even though their last few outings haven’t been their best, this isn’t about performance. It’s about giving them a break.”

Both pitchers are on board with the idea. Milone said the Nationals skipped him for one start in late July last season, when he struggled for a few starts and was showing signs of fatigue. He thinks he could use the rest. Parker also said he thinks a few extra days will pay off. “It’s just that time when your body can’t do as much as it could earlier in the year,” Parker said. “Tommy and I, we’ve kind of struggled as of late. I think both of us could tell you we need a little extra time. We haven’t pitched at this level at this point of the year.”

–Eric Sogard was placed on the D.L. with a strained back, which clears a roster spot for Brandon McCarthy to come off the D.L. and start tonight against Chicago. Sogard said his back locked up on him during batting practice Monday. He was able to play that night, and was put on muscle relaxers, but the pain hasn’t gotten better. He said there’s a “constant tightness,” and he’s scheduled to fly to Phoenix on Saturday and get more tests done there.

In other injury updates, outfielder Seth Smith (strained left hamstring) has started hitting off a tee and throwing. He’s not taking batting practice yet. Right-hander A.J. Griffin (strained right shoulder) is doing “sock throws,” where he simulates throwing a baseball, and Melvin said Griffin is feeling better.

The lineups:
A’s — Crisp CF, Weeks 2B, Reddick RF, Cespedes LF, CArter 1B, Moss DH, Inge 3B, Norris C, Pennington SS; McCarthy RHP.

White Sox — De Aza CF, Youkilis 3B, Dunn 1B, Rios RF, Pierzynski C, Ramirez SS, Viciedo DH, Danks LF, Beckham 2B; Floyd RHP.

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A’s feeling golden as they wrap up series with Angels

Ben Enos filling in for Joltin’ Joe Stiglich

Bright sun and warm temps greeted fans today at the Oakland Coliseum, and the A’s have turned to the gold jerseys as they try to win the series against Los Angeles.

Things were quiet before the game today, with the only real news coming on the Brandon McCarthy front. The right-hander threw a bullpen today, and provided he comes out of it well (which it sounds like is the expectation), McCarthy will return to the rotation on Friday in Chicago. He is the listed starter for that game, set to oppose Gavin Floyd.

Yoenis Cespedes is back in left field today, one day after putting on a show in pregame with his shortstop skills. Manager Bob Melvin joked that his work at shortstop “evidently went a long way in preparing him for today’s game.” In all seriousness, Melvin did say that Cespedes’ attitude before the game was a big indicator that the outfielder was feeling better and that played a part in getting him back in the outfield today.

Cliff Pennington is back in the lineup, as expected, and hits eighth. It’s an interesting lineup today, actually, with Brandon Moss hitting in the No. 2 hole and filling much the same role Jonny Gomes. Josh Reddick is in the DH spot.

Gonna be a warm one today. Settle in and enjoy.

Lineups:
A’s – Crisp CF, Moss RF, Reddick DH, Cespedes LF, Carter 1B, Kottaras C, Inge 3B, Pennington SS, Weeks 2B. Straily P.
Angels – Trout CF, Hunter RF, Pujols 1B, Trumbo LF, Morales DH, Callaspo 3B, Kendrick 2B, Aybar SS, Iannetta C. Greinke P.

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Yoenis Cespedes shows off at shortstop; Oakland A’s activate Cliff Pennington from disabled list

Sometimes batting practice provides the most entertaining moments of a day spent at the ballpark. Today, Yoenis Cespedes put on a show while making a just-for-fun appearance at shortstop. He took a couple dozen grounders and displayed a rocket of an arm throwing to first. And it wasn’t like he was trying to fire the ball. He was effortlessly flipping the ball over there, and it was about as strong of an arm as you’d see from any you major league shortstop. You could tell Cespedes was having fun, but he was getting into it. He was ranging right for balls and slinging it sidearm — on the money — to first. Then, he went over to second base and had Jemile Weeks flip him balls. By then, there was no one at first base, or we might have seen Cespedes turn the double play.

“I don’t know what kind of arm he has — it’s ridiculous,” Weeks said. “He was throwing off-balance from the hole.”

Cespedes certainly didn’t seem to show any ill effects from a sprained right wrist that sidelined him for two of the past three days. Bob Melvin indicated during his pregame media session that Cespedes could have played left field, but he him at DH tonight just to give him whatever rest he could while keeping his bat in the lineup.

Anyway, after Cespedes came off the field, he used some improving English to tell a couple of us he played a lot of shortstop in Cuba from age 10 to 16 before shifting to center field. He mixed a little bit of third base in there. Did he have fun today? “Yeah,” he said, his eyes lighting up.

Someone sitting in the dugout watching him cracked that the A’s had found the solution to their shortstop woes. I wouldn’t expect to see the A’s use their franchise outfielder at the most demanding position in the infield, but a scene such as today’s shows what an awesome overall talent he is.

Now, if the guy can just stay healthy …

–Speaking of shortstop, the A’s made a surprise call by activating Cliff Pennington from the disabled list. He’s not in the lineup today — Adam Rosales is playing against Angels lefty C.J. Wilson — but Melvin said the A’s needed another position player available off the bench. Pennington is likely to start against right-hander Zack Greinke on Wednesday. Pennington indicated a couple days ago his injured left elbow is fully recovered. Melvin said just yesterday that Pennington might play for Triple-A Sacramento through Wednesday, but the need for a deeper bench won out.

The lineups:
A’s — Crisp CF, Gomes LF, Reddick RF, Cespedes DH, Carter 1B, Inge 3B, Norris C, Rosales SS, Weeks 2B; Colon RHP.

Angels — Trout CF, Hunter RF, Pujols 1B, Trumbo LF, Morales DH, Callaspo 3B, Aybar SS, Izturis 2B, Wilson C; Wilson LHP.