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Reddick earns Player of the Week honors

Ben Enos filling in for Joe Stiglich

News of the day here at the Coliseum is of the positive variety, as Josh Reddick earned some league-wide kudos by being named American League Player of the Week.

The award was definitely well-deserved, given that Reddick hit .387 (12 for 31) with two doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs and six runs in the A’s seven wins last week. We chatted with Josh for a while before he headed out to stretch today and he was pretty clear that, while he was honored to get the award, the seven wins were the most important part.

A few factors went into Reddick’s hot stretch, and both he and manager Bob Melvin agreed that a brief move to the No. 6 spot in the lineup played a part. Taking some of the pressure off helped, Reddick took off from there, and has since returned to the No. 3 hole. The A’s right fielder also said that work with hitting coach Chili Davis was important, and that shortening his swing took the focus off hitting home runs and put it back on driving the ball.

In other news, Jim Miller is back in Oakland after some nifty roster maneuvering allowed him to come back before he’d been down for 10 days. The A’s optioned Miller to Single-A Stockton last week, and since the Ports have finished their season, Miller can now rejoin the team.

On to the lineups, as the A’s look to bounce back after having their nine-game win streak snapped yesterday. Lots of lefties in the Oakland lineup to face Angels righty Zack Greinke.

A’s: Crisp CF, Smith DH, Reddick RF, Cespedes LF, Moss 1B, Donaldson 3B, Drew SS, Kottaras C, Pennington 2B. Parker P.
Angels: Trout CF, Hunter RF, Pujols DH, Morales 1B, Kendrick 2B, Aybar SS, Callaspo 3B, Wells LF, Iannetta C. Greinke P.

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Chris Carter lends a hand in Josh Donaldson’s hot streak

There just might be a secret behind Josh Donaldson’s hot hitting of late, and he revealed it after the A’s 8-3 loss Monday to the Angels: Donaldson has been using teammate Chris Carter’s bats ever since he was recalled from the minors Aug. 14.

“I didn’t have any bats when I first came back,” said Donaldson, who has had three big league stints this season. “I picked up one of Carter’s and asked if I could use it. Obviously I started hitting the ball pretty well. … I’ve been using his the entire time.”

Carter’s bats are made by Old Hickory — 34 1/2 inches, 32 1/2 ounces. What does Donaldson like about them compared to his own? “It’s a little bigger barrel, a little heavier, same length. Obviously I like the bat.”

Donaldson broke one of them early on and asked Carter if he could use one of his batting-practice bats. Donaldson has stuck with that one. He has since ordered his own batch of bats — same as Carter’s — that are on the way.

Donaldson and Carter have something else in common — they are both contributing some big power numbers for the A’s. Donaldson has four homers in his past five games and is hitting .338 with 15 RBIs in 19 games since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento. “He’s got a lot of confidence going right now,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “The ability is certainly there and I think the confidence is finally going along with it. We’re getting a lot of production down toward the bottom of the order, where we feel we have a chance to pop one no matter where we are in the lineup.”

Carter has homered four times in his last eight games and has 14 homers since he was recalled June 29. As a team, the A’s have a major league-leading 74 homers since the All-Star break.

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Scott Sizemore progressing well from knee injury, looks toward 2013

Here’s the lineups on a picturesque Labor Day afternoon at the Coliseum:

A’s — Crisp CF, Gomes LF, Reddick RF, Cespedes DH, Carter 1B, Donaldson 3B, Norris C, Drew SS, Rosales 2B; Milone LHP.

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

–I talked a bit with Scott Sizemore this morning as he continues rehabbing from his March surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He began taking ground balls last week and is scheduled to take batting practice on the field for the first time Tuesday. As of now, he is on track to be ready for the start of spring training in February. It’s been bittersweet for him to watch this improbable A’s season unfold and not be involved in it, as you could understand. “It’s been fun, but I’d love to be a part of it, contributing, because I think I could,” Sizemore said. “I just really enjoy watching it.”

It’s interesting to ponder how Sizemore might fit in to next year’s puzzle. If he returns full strength, he could certainly be a factor at third base, although Josh Donaldson has a chance to stake his claim to the long-term job with his performance through the rest of this season. And Brandon Inge’s status for 2013 is a wild card as well. I know some fans have wondered if Sizemore could get a look at second base next season, considering he was playing second base with Detroit before the A’s traded for him in 2011. I suppose that’s a possibility, though I haven’t run the idea by anybody in the front office. Jemile Weeks could get called up back up this month with a chance to show he’s progressed since being optioned. Grant Green will play second base in the Arizona Fall League, and the A’s are very happy with what he’s done offensively at Triple-A this season. And we can’t forget about Cliff Pennington and Adam Rosales, who are handling the position right now. I think there’s lots of flexibility with both second and third base looking ahead to next season …

–Tyson Ross was recalled today as expected, and A’s manager Bob Melvin said he envisions Ross serving primarily as a long reliever for now. I’m curious to see how he does in the bigs since being shifted full-time to the bullpen.

That’s all for now. Enjoy the game …

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Postgame thoughts after the A’s complete a sweep of the Boston Red Sox

The A’s are flying high right now, having won nine straight, but you can’t overlook the fact that all but two of these victories have come against some pretty bad competition. The Cleveland Indians were 55-72 when the A’s rolled into Progressive Field last week, and their bumbling play showed how they attained that record. Boston arrived into Oakland with a 62-70 record, and in three straight losses at the Coliseum, they showed what a mess they are.

So with the A’s having swept both series from those teams, we take away two things:

1) The A’s know how to take care of business against the teams they should handle

2) The road is going to get much tougher as September unfolds.

That challenge should start over the next three days, as the Los Angeles Angels had won five straight before losing Sunday at Seattle. The Angels are 3 1/2 games behind Baltimore for the A.L.’s second wild card spot, and they know that time is running out, so they’ve got a lot to play for. The A’s will face the Angels four more times in Anaheim on their next road trip, then come home for three games against Baltimore and head right back to the road for a 10-game road trip against the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers. Yikes … But the A’s have risen to the occasion against the high-caliber teams all season, and recently they’ve pounded the low-caliber ones too.

–Brett Anderson impressed once again Sunday afternoon, allowing just one run over six innings against Boston. What a boost he has been to an A’s rotation that lost veteran Bartolo Colon to suspension for the rest of the regular season. A’s manager Bob Melvin said Anderson relied on his breaking ball more than usual because the velocity was a bit down on his fastball, “which is pretty typical for a guy going through extended spring training right now,” Melvin said in reference to Anderson having recently returned from reconstructive elbow surgery. “To give us three games with that kind of performance and the magnitude of the games, it’s really impressive.”

–I thought Josh Donaldson made a couple of real nice plays at third base Sunday. He made a diving stop to his left on Dustin Pedroia’s infield single in the sixth. Donaldson’s throw to second arrived a tad late to get Scott Podsednik on a force play. Then he leapt high to snare Ryan Lavarnway’s liner in the seventh. Aside from a couple of obvious mistakes that I’ve touched on before, Donaldson has been solid defensively at third since Brandon Inge went down with a shoulder injury. It’s crazy to think that when Donaldson arrived at spring training, he was still a full-time catcher stuck behind Kurt Suzuki. A lot changes over the course of a season …

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A’s go for sweep against the Red Sox

Tyson Ross was spotted in the clubhouse this morning. He was sent to Triple-A on Aug. 24, which makes him eligible to be recalled Monday. A’s manager Bob Melvin said he likely will be, so Ross will be joining the bullpen in his new relief duties.

Here’s the lineups for this series finale between the A’s and Red Sox:

A’s — Crisp CF, Smith DH, Reddick RF, Cespedes LF, Moss 1B, Donaldson 3B, Drew SS, Norris C, Pennington 2B; Anderson LHP.

Sox — Ciriaco LF, Podsednik CF, Pedroia 2B, Ross RF, Gomez 3B, Lavarnway C, Aviles DH, Loney 1B, Iglesias SS; Matsuzaka RHP.

–Melvin considers Brandon Inge a pinch-hitting option until Inge leaves the team to have season-ending shoulder surgery, and Inge reiterated that he will stay ready if called upon. His shoulder hurts him badly when throwing, but it isn’t so much of an issue swinging the bat. Inge said he’ll have his surgery in Michigan, to be performed by Dr. Steven Lemos, who has also performed surgery on Inge’s knees. Inge plans to have the procedure when the A’s go on the road for this next trip that starts Friday.

Inge will be a free agent after the season, and he said he would love to return to the A’s in 2013. “Obviously, I’d love to come back here. I’ve had the best time, the best year here. Maybe not numbers-wise, but I’m just saying I’ve had the best time here with these guys.”

Figure a couple of factors will play into whether the A’s consider re-signing Inge. 1) How does Josh Donaldson perform throughout September and (possibly) the postseason? He’s getting a chance to show he’s a suitable long-term third base option. 2) How does Scott Sizemore rebound from knee surgery that has sidelined him this entire season? You can’t forget about that guy …

That’s all for now …

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A’s win again, but Brandon Inge’s injury is a big loss

The postgame news on Brandon Inge’s season-ending shoulder injury is worth a little follow-up after the A’s 7-1 victory over the Red Sox. On the stat sheet, it might not seem like too much of a blow. Josh Donaldson is ripping the ball right now and filling in nicely in Inge’s absence. But this is an injury in which the effects might not be felt until a few weeks from now, when the A’s are trying to sew up a postseason spot. Inge would have been worth having in the lineup — at third base or second base — just for his veteran experience in high-pressure games. He played in two A.L. Championship Series and one World Series while with the Detroit Tigers, and the A’s don’t have much in the way of postseason experience on their roster.

He’s the kind of player whose impact isn’t completely felt in the box score. It takes place in the clubhouse, in his interaction with younger teammates and the way he goes about his business. That’s the kind of stuff that fans, and to a large extent the media, can’t fully gauge. It’s not surprising that Inge told manager Bob Melvin that he wants to continue traveling with the team after he has shoulder surgery in a week or two. “I want to come back right away,” he said, “dress with the team , travel with the team, because I feel like in this clubhouse I still can make an impact. I’ll keep the boys loose, that’s for sure.”

That sounded good to A’s infielder Brandon Hicks. “I think it’s huge, what he can do in the locker room,” Hicks said.

Donaldson will get his chance to remain the full-time third baseman, and his play has certainly warranted that. He’s hitting .344 with 14 RBIs in 17 games since coming up from the minors. And though he’s made a couple head-scratching plays at third base, he’s also made some excellent plays with the glove too. Will he show consistency — offensively and defensively — down the stretch? The A’s will need him to.

And in case you’re wondering, Inge said there was no use putting off this surgery until after the season. He is going under the knife in a week or two, and he told Melvin he is available for DH or pinch-hitting duties until then. But he also asked Melvin if the manager would use him as a realistic option the rest of the season in a DH or pinch-hitting role (Inge’s shoulder only hurts him throwing, not hitting). “He said maybe, but he couldn’t promise anything,” Inge said. “At that point, I have to do what’s best for my career.”

If there’s any player in that clubhouse who is close to being a coach on the field, it’s Inge. So he can still make an impact, as he desires to. But it will hurt the A’s not having him on the diamond, similar to how it might hurt not having Bartolo Colon pitching down the stretch. This team would benefit from that veteran presence. We’ve seen the A’s overcome some long odds to put themselves in playoff position this season. And now we’ll see how they withstand the loss of Inge, who is a big part of the heart and soul of this team.

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Brandon Inge starting at third base for A’s, but might we see him at second base?

Crazy stuff happens whenever I take a home game off. The A’s either play 15 innings or score 20 runs or do something nutty. Last night was just another chapter in what’s been quite the amazing season so far …

–The home clubhouse at the Coliseum starts to resemble spring training this time of year when rosters expand. It just gets a little more crowded. Though the A’s only recalled two players today, the extra lockers have been added in the middle of the clubhouse as more players will be coming soon. …

Outfielder Collin Cowgill and infielder Brandon Hicks were recalled from Triple-A Sacramento, and A.J. Griffin (tonight’s starting pitcher) and Brandon Inge were reinstated from the disabled list. … Let the intrigue begin regarding third base. A’s manager Bob Melvin said he’s not committed to either Inge or Josh Donaldson as his regular starter right now, but with Donaldson nursing a minor hip injury that required a day off, it was easy to pencil Inge in at third. But what happens from this point on?

“We’ll see how it goes over there,” Melvin said. “We have two guys that we feel can be productive and have been productive over the course of the season. It’s a good problem to have. We’ll just see how it goes at this point.”

Melvin did offer this nugget: He considers Inge an option at second base, which I know a lot of fans have been wondering about. “Brandon’s played some second before,” Melvin said. “Whether we have some added depth there and he’s able to do that, that is an option. Penny and Rosie also have been pretty good there to this point. But there could be a time when you see Inge taking some ground balls at second base.”

And what about Donaldson possibly playing some catcher? Melvin said he likes the fact that he has a third catching option who has experience behind the plate in Donaldson. But “we like our tandem with Derek and George,” he said. “If something happened and you pinch-hit for somebody, and one of the other guys ended up coming out of the game or we had to do something, Josh is certainly a guy that’s not an emergency catcher, he’s actually a catcher. He gives us depth at that position, but we don’t have any plans at this point to start him behind the plate.”

–Tonight’s lineups:
A’s: Crisp CF, Gomes DH, Reddick RF, Cespedes LF, Carter 1B, Inge 3B, Norris C, Hicks SS, Rosales 2B; Griffin RHP.

Red Sox: Ellsbury CF, Pedroia 2B, Podsednik LF, Ross RF, Loney 1B, Saltalamacchia C, Aviles SS, Lavarnway DH, Ciriaco 3B; Doubront LHP.

Hicks is in the lineup with Drew getting his first game off at shortstop since joining the A’s. As for Cowgill, Melvin said he could spell Crisp at center, but he plans to utilize him mainly for in-game substitutions (think pinch runner).

That’s all for now. Enjoy the game …