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Game 108 wrapup: Jaso unlikely to catch this weekend; Donaldson feeling better about swing; Vogt disappointed as passed balls lead to loss

John Jaso has put in his seven days, but his time on the seven-day disabled list isn’t up yet.

The seven-day DL is designed specifically for players fighting off the effects of concussions, injuries that are significant but don’t necessarily need the 15 days that is otherwise the minimum.

It turns out that in Jaso’s case, seven days isn’t enough. Talking after the game Wednesday, the veteran catcher said he thought it was unlikely that he would be playing this weekend.

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Game 107 wrapup: Mere minor deal shows Beane satisfied this club has what it needs

In for John Hickey …

Well, the less said about this one, the better. A rare clunker after winning 24 of 30 at the Coliseum, and the A’s will quickly turn the page and hand the ball to Bartolo Colon Wednesday.

So, no Jake Peavy. No middle of the order hitter. In the end, unless some other team calls the A’s with an offer Billy Beane can’t refuse, the A’s will likely watch the trade deadline pass without a blockbuster deal to bolster the roster down the stretch.

Guess what? They don’t really have to. Peavy might have been nice insurance in the event of a Colon suspension (seems unlikely, but until Friday comes and goes, hold your breath) or another starter injury. But the A’s have plenty of pitching depth with Brett Anderson looking like he may be just a few weeks away if that and Sonny Gray at the ready in the minors. As for the hitting part, the guys here have the wherewithal, they just have to get it done.

So, Alberto Callaspo for Grant Green. That’s your deadline deal. Not impressed? Hey, admittedly, it’s not an earth-shaker, but Callaspo should help against left-handed pitching. He’s a career .300 hitter against lefties, and he can also spell Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie, with Callaspo filling in at third when needed and Eric Sogard at short.

The only real question mark here is how quickly Callaspo can adjust to playing second base after not playing the position for three years, and actually a bit longer than that. His last extended work there came in 2009 with Kansas City, when he played 146 games at second (and made 17 errors). Can he still turn the double play? Guess we’ll see. But you can bet he’ll be getting a crash refresher course with infield coach Mike Gallego over the next week or so.

He won’t be playing there a ton. Eric Sogard will still man the position against righties, which means the majority of the time, so the defense shouldn’t suffer too much. And considering Callaspo has some pop and is lethal against lefties, he’s definitely an upgrade, even if a minor one, and he gives Oakland a righty pinch-hitter off the bench who isn’t named Nate Freiman.

Shame about Grant Green, of course, but for all of his potential as a future major-league  hitter, he just never found a position with Oakland. He may not find one anywhere, although he did show signs that first base may be in his future. The A’s don’t have time to find out, especially since Green is now 25, not exactly a youngster in prospect years.

Beane was very clear he made this deal because this club deserves every chance to win now, and Callaspo provides much needed infield depth. Can’t disagree with that. Adam Rosales is not a good shortstop option, and he has struggled at the plate as well. He’s almost certainly a goner.

The team that has posted a 63-44 record to this point is the one that will have to take it the rest of the way, Callaspo and perhaps a waiver deal at some point down the line excepted. With that in mind, it bears repeating what manager Bob Melvin said before the game.

“I always expect other teams to do something and don’t get too caught up in what we’re trying to do because we’re playing pretty well, we have a good team, and regardless of what happens, we’re going to have a good team,” he said. “Billy’s been through this many times before and he’ll do the right thing.”

Fifty-five games to go and a five-game lead. They should have enough to close it out. The real question is if they have enough to go deep into the playoffs (especially with the Red Sox getting Peavy). Let’s get August and September out of the way first, and then it can be debated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PREGAME NOTES: Anderson very pleased with snappy bullpen session

In for Hickey …

A remarkably quiet night at the O-Dot-Co before the A’s and Jays square it up. Back in the late ’80s when these two teams met, it was THE matchup in the American League. That could change at any time with less than 24 hours before the trade deadline, and knowing Billy Beane, I would expect something from him, even if it’s not Jake Peavy.

For now, it’s about Brett Anderson. The lefthander threw his latest bullpen sssion before the game — 57 pitches — and he was really popping it. He looks close to being ready to pitch in a rehab game, perhaps by early next week, and he said as much after B.P.

“I threw all my pitches and it went well,” Anderson said. “I’ll come in tomorrow and see how I feel and go from there. I have a live BP set up for Friday. It will be good to get some swings against me and see how hitters react to my pitches. Now, I’m just honing in and making sure my arm strength’s good and make sure all my pitches are doing what they’re supposed to.”

What is he most pleased about at this stage?

“That my foot doesn’t hurt,” Anderson said. “Going from where I was a couple weeks or a month ago to where I am now has been a big jump. My body feels good, my arm feels good.”

Said manager Bob Melvin, “He was little more worried about the foot, but at this point, he really has no issues with it at all. He really got after it today.”

Melvin said he would announce Wednesday what the next step would be, but Anderson pretty much spilled the beans, unless the A’s decide he’s so ready, they put him in a rehab game right away.

Miscellany:

–Even though the A’s have three off days coming up over the next 10, they won’t change their rotation, said Melvin. “As we are right now, we’ll stay on turn,” he said.

–Melvin on the trade deadline: “I always expect other teams to do something and don’t get too caught up in what we’re trying to do because we’re playing pretty well, we have a good team, and regardless of what happens, we’re going to have a good team. So, Billy’s been through this many times before and he’ll do the right thing.”

–A double bit of good news for Eric Sogard, even if he isn’t in the lineup. First, the pitch he took on the elbow is sore but he’s more than well enough to play. Second, there was a scoring change from Monday night’s game that reversed an error and gave him a hit, reigniting a hitting streak that now stands at eight games.

–Melvin isn’t too worried about A.J. Griffin having surrendered 26 homers, most in the AL. He said Griffin pitches to the situation, and very few of the homers have really hurt him other than inflating his ERA. Of the 26 homers allowed, by the way, only 7 have come with men on base. That’s the way Catfish Hunter used to do it. He gave 39 homers (26 of those solo) in 1973 and finished 21-5 with a 3.34 ERA. Griffin’s 10-7 with a 3.90.

Finally, congrats to former Athletic Jason Giambi for becoming the oldest player ever to hit a walkoff homer for the Indians last night. That was great to see. What’s hard to believe is that the guy is 42.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Game 106 wrapup: Smith, Blevins halt troubles

There is almost nothing similar to the skill sets possessed by Jerry Blevins and Seth Smith except that both are left-handed.

Smith is the A’s regular designated hitter. Blevins is the A’s No. 2 left-handed reliever in the bullpen.

Of late they’d been sharing something that brought them together: a seemingly endless series of poor performances.

Smith came into Monday’s 9-4 win over Toronto hitless in his previous 29 at-bats. As recently as July 12 he was hitting .270 and was a vital source of offense for a team that was struggling to come up with runs.

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Jays’ Dickey, 38, ready for match with Colon, 40

When Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey steps on the mound for the Blue Jays Wednesday, he says it will be special.

That’s because he’ll be pitching against the A’s Bartolo Colon.

Dickey, the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner while pitching for the New York Mets, has been pitching in the Major Leagues off and on since 2001, most of that in the American League.

Colon, who has pitched in the big leagues since 1997, also has spent the bulk of his time in the American League.

But for all of that, this will be just the second time they’ve pitched in the same game.

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Game 105 wrapup: A’s Rangers in big role reversal; `Nerd Power’ strikes again with Sogard on fire

The A’s got to a season-best 19 games over .500 (62-43) Sunday, putting them six games up on the second-place Rangers in the American League West.

It was a year ago, or more precisely, 13 months ago, that the then-West leaders and heavy favorites, the Rangers, got to 19 games over .500 for the first time.

They did it, curiously enough, by beating Oakland on June 28, 2012 to land at 48-29. It was the middle game of a five-game winning streak that would see them get to 50-29 on July 31 before the A’s, by that time 13 games down in the standings and in third place stood up.

On July 1, the A’s slapped the Rangers in the face with a 3-1 win behind starting pitcher Travis Blackley, a pitcher who just six weeks earlier had been claimed off waivers from the Giants.

From that point on, the A’s won at a relentless pace, winning almost two-thirds of the time (51-26) while the Rangers were scarcely above .500. Oakland caught Texas on the final day of the season to win the West.

Could it happen in reverse this year?

Well, sure, because the Rangers are only six games back at the end of play on July 28. But consider that at the end of play on July 28 in 2012, the A’s were only 3½ games back after a huge month of July, and it still took Oakland until Game 162 to catch up.

It’s not that the Rangers don’t have enough time to catch Oakland. It’s that they don’t seem to be able to generate and sustain any momentum. Rangers’ manager Ron Washington held a 50-minute closed-door team meeting Sunday.

When he did it earlier in the year, Texas went out generated momentum to be sure, winning nine of its next 11. But the Rangers were completely unable to sustain it, and here they were Sunday meeting again just six weeks later.

The A’s are far from being home free, but they have an advantage this time around that Texas didn’t have last year. The Rangers saw the A’s coming hard for them last July. This July, the A’s have gone from one-half game behind Texas to six games ahead.

The momentum is all Oakland’s.

 

–Eric Sogard never felt to need to wear contact lenses. And now the fact that he wears glasses has helped create a persona for him.

Well that, and that fact that he’s been among the A’s most reliable hitters of late.

The A’s call it “Nerd Power,’’ every time Sogard gets a big hit, which lately has been often. He had three hits Sunday in a 10-6 win over the Angels, driving in the first run with a double and putting the A’s ahead to stay with a single in a five-run sixth inning.

And “Nerd Power’’ isn’t meant in a disparaging way. It’s a sign of respect, both from his teammates and the A’s fans.

“It wasn’t only today,’’ left fielder Yoenis Cespedes said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. “It’s every day. He’s always ready to play. He always gives a complete effort.’’

After each big Sogard hit, his teammates put their thumbs and forefingers together in an open circle and put it to their eyes as a kid might do to simulate binoculars. His teammates see Sogard doing big things.

“It’s fun; I enjoy all the nicknames,’’ Sogard said. “Obviously wearing glasses kind of attracts a little attention there, but it’s exciting to have those fans out there. They’re the best fans.’’

With his performance Sunday, Sogard has a seven-game hitting streak. He’s 11-for-17 (.407) since the All-Star break to lift his average to .272. And 10 of his last 18 hits have been for extra bases.

Manager Bob Melvin said this is akin to the way Sogard hit the ball in spring training when he had to win a roster spot as a longshot.

Sogard also looks back to spring training.

“Over the (All-Star) break, I just kind of wanted to hit that reset button,’’ he said, “and kind of just go back to finding that spring training swing that I had. Not trying to do too much.

“And from the first at-bat I’ve felt really comfortable out there, seeing the ball really well and just having fun.’’

The A’s, if they make a trade deadline move for a position player, would likely focus on second base. But clearly they have to respect what Sogard has been doing. He’s one of the reasons they are six games up in the West.

“It feels great,’’ Sogard said. “We’re going to continue to look at it one game at a time, continue to put wins under our belt and just keep going at it.’’

Call it the Nerd Power mantra.

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A’s continue their pursuit of White Sox’s Peavy

The A’s would like to add a starting pitcher before the trade deadline comes around Wednesday, and the A’s have a preference for that pitcher to be Jake Peavy.

Wishing doesn’t make it so, of course, but the club is very much in the hunt for the Chicago White Sox’s right-hander, who cleaned out his locker Sunday morning with all indications a trade is just a day or so, if not an hour or so, away.

The Braves, the Dodgers, the Cardinals and the Red Sox came into Sunday as fellow contenders in the race to get Peavy as the White Sox try to shed salary and add good young prospects.

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Anderson throws bullpen, Pujols out for Angels

Jimmy Durkin in for John Hickey again today. For more in game info, follow me on Twitter
OAKLAND — A’s pitcher Brett Anderson threw 51 pitches during an up-down bullpen session on Saturday as he continues his rehab from a sprained right ankle.
“I think the effort he used today was closer to game effort so he is progressing the way we want him to progress and we’ll see where the next step goes,” A’s pitching coach Curt Young said.
Anderson warmed up like he would at the start of a game by throwing long toss before beginning his first bullpen session. He sat down to simulate the break between innings — “Curt said we scored two runs,” Anderson said — then got back up for his final 25 pitches.
“It was good,” Anderson said. “Going into it I felt like there wouldn’t be any problems, but you never know how you’re going to react to sitting.”
The next step is likely for Anderson to throw a simulated game. The team will wait until Sunday to see how Anderson feels, then come up with a plan for the next step.
n Albert Pujols was out of the Angels lineup Saturday and was sent back to Southern California to have his left foot examined. The foot’s bothered him throughout the season and was aggravated while running to first after singling in the ninth on Friday night.
“He’s sore,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Right at the end when he got the hit in the ninth inning, just running, it didn’t feel good. He’ll be evaluated today and we’ll see what’s going on.”
Scioscia didn’t rule out a trip to the disabled list for Pujols.
n The A’s are wearing bright gold 1969 throwback uniforms for Saturday’s game. A’s manager Bob Melvin seemed a bit uncomfortable in the colorful uniforms, but overall said he liked the idea of wearing the old threads.
“I watched these teams when I was younger so that makes it kind of cool,” said Melvin, a Bay Area native. “When I saw Chip Hale put on his uniform earlier with his No. 14, I instantly thought of Vida Blue.”
Melvin said Hale, the A’s bench coach, was particularly excited about the throwbacks and was in uniform by 8 a.m.

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A’s find there are too many buyers at deadline, but they’d like to add a starter and a second baseman

The A’s have not been buyers at the trade deadline often in the last decade.

Now that they are, so, apparently, is everybody else.

All of which is going to make it more difficult for the A’s to get something done at the deadline.

“It’s about how many players are available, simple supply and demand,’’ A’s general manager Billy Beane said. “Right now there are more buyers than there are sellers, more buyers than last year.’’

The A’s want to be one of the buyers when the deadline rolls around Wednesday.

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Game 102 wrapup: A’s bats go south after lead disappears

After four innings, there was a good vibe pointing in the A’s favor as they battled Angels starter C.J. Wilson.
Wilson, just five days removed from tossing 8 1/3 scoreless innings in a 2-0 win over the A’s, was watching his pitch count soar. After an 8-pitch first inning, he threw 29 in the second inning.
By the end of the fourth, Wilson was at 91 pitches. The A’s had just put two runs on the board to grab a 2-1 lead.
Then, Dan Straily lost command and began serving up hittable pitches. The Angels knocked him from the game with a four-run fifth and that seemed to zap the life out of the A’s.
They stopped working deep counts, stopped putting runners on base and inexplicably allowed Wilson to toss threw more innings. A’s manager Bob Melvin credited Wilson with being more aggressive with the lead.
“He started pounded the strike zone a little more once they got the lead,” Melvin said. “I think he realized too that he had to throw some more strikes and he did. We tried to take advantage of some of those first-pitch strikes and hit a predictable fastball.”
Obviously, the A’s couldn’t take advantage enough. Derek Norris did crush a first pitch fastball for a home run in the sixth, but by then the Angels had an 8-2 lead.
It basically was a evil combination for the A’s. The pitchers couldn’t get outs and the hitters couldn’t get hits.
The Angels sent 15 batters to the plate in the fifth and sixth innings. Those batters went 9 for 13, with eight singles, a double, six RBIs, seven runs, a walk and a sacrifice fly.
Meanwhile, after putting seven runners on base in the first four innings, the A’s had only two baserunners over the final five innings. There was the Norris home run and that was it until a broken bat single by Chris Young in the ninth.
– Yoenis Cespedes had his right knee heavily wrapped after the game, although Melvin said it was just a scrape. It apparently occured while sliding into home when he scored on a wild pitch in the fourth.
– The sixth inning was a frustrating one to watch for the A’s as the first five batters singled. That included a bunt single by J.B. Shuck. A’s reliever Jesse Chavez, who allowed the first four hits, called the frustration just part of baseball.
“It is (frustrating), but that’s baseball,” Chavez said. “It’s a game of inches. If they hit it six inches one way or six inches the other way, it’s an out. That’s how you have to look at it and come back tomorrow and put the nose to the grindstone again.”
– Melvin isn’t looking over his shoulder for help as the trade deadline looms on July 31.
“Whether something’s done or not, we feel like we have a good team,” Melvin said before the game.
“It would be one thing if everybody was looking around and we had a glaring weakness,” Melvin said. “You’re just trying to incrementally upgrade your team and if there’s something out there to be done, then you do it.
“Organizations like us are probably a little more careful with young players knowing that we implement them a little sooner and there’s some turnover here every few years based on some financial restrictions, but I don’t think it’s anything that will affect us.”
The A’s remain three games ahead of the second-place Texas Rangers.
“I think based on where we are right now, we feel good about our team,” he said. “You don’t look too far ahead. You have long-term goals and short-team goals. Our long-term goal is that yeah, I think we can go back to the postseason again. But we narrow it back down to today and doing everything we can to win today.”