Pre-game notes: Gray’s first Oakland start, Melvin laments, A’s thoughts on replay

In for John Hickey (and thanks for two superb days of subbing from Steve Corkran) …

The A’s found late-season juice from their rookie pitchers last year down the stretch. Now they turn to a new one Wednesday in a game they really need. Sonny Gray makes his first Oakland appearance and start and it might be worth writing this date down. As manager Bob Melvin said this morning, “Not only us, but our fan base is looking forward to Sonny Gray pitch for the first time in Oakland, and rightly so — what he’s done to this point, he has good stuff, he’s got a good fastball, he’s got a good assortment of breaking pitches and he’s a very confident guy. So this is a guy who has a chance to be around for quite awhile.”

Partly because of his arsenal and partly because of his comparable small size, Gray has been sized up by some as the second coming of Tim Hudson. The A’s and their fans could only be so fortunate if that turns out to be the case. Today will be a good debut test, even if it is the Astros. Gray can establish himself as a stopper right out of the gate.

Melvin was not happy he got tossed Tuesday night after arguing the Eric Sogard out play in the eighth inning Tuesday. He was more upset with himself than the umpire.

“If I had it to do over again — and I didn’t have intent to get thrown out of that game — but I can’t get thrown out of that game. In a close game like that, you have to go out there and give your two cents and address what you think is right or wrong, but I can’t get thrown out of that game. When I’m sitting in there watching it on TV, especially here where you feel like you’re 10 miles away, I don’t do my team any good. Even though everybody on my staff is able to handle stuff like that, everybody in the dugout has a job to do and I wasn’t there to do mine. So I feel bad about that.”

I asked Melvin if he thought he deserved to get tossed considering how quickly he got the thumb.

“It was pretty quick, but whether I deserved it or not, it really doesn’t matter,” he said. “I got thrown out. The intent wasn’t to get thrown out.”

No magic word?

“Well, apparently,” he said. “I couldn’t tell you what the precise magic word was.”

Of course, if baseball’ s proposed new replay system that will prospectively go into effect in 2014 was in place Wednesday night, Melvin wouldn’t have to had to run out to argue, he wouldn’t have been tossed, and the game might have been altered entirely. Melvin could have simply challenged the call and it would have reviewed in the A’s favor (because Sogard was pretty clearly safe).

That’s what we have to look forward to at some point, and it can’t get here fast enough. Replay will help baseball just as it has helped other sports in getting the call right most of the time on bang-bang base plays, balls down the line, home run calls and other calls not involving balls and strikes.

“As long as they don’t have robot back there beeping whether it’s a ball or a strike, it’s fine with me,” said pitcher Brett Anderson, who makes his first rehab start Saturday in Sacramento. “As long as they work out the process where it doesn’t stop the game. Baseball’s long enough and pretty much boring as it is in certain times, you don’t want it to halt the flow of the game too much.

“At least they’re doing something about it,” Anderson continued. “It takes a little bit of the human element out of the game. As long as it doesn’t affect balls and strikes, which would change the game entirely. But as far cut and dry, out and safe, fair or foul, home run or not home run, you should be able to get those right every time. Whether it affects outcome of the game good or bad for us, at least you can go home and feel comfortable about the fact that it was the right call and you can live with it.”

Melvin said he didn’t want to comment at length until it’s official (it still must be approved in November by owners, but count on that), but then was pretty explicit about how he feels. For one, he believes replay needs to be instituted.

“My stance has probably changed on that in the last year or so,” he said. “You want to get it right, and I was always a little bit of a traditionalist before where there’s human error involved. But as long as everybody’s on the same page with it and idea is to get it right, I’m all for that.”

Melvin said he believes having a central site that decides replay challenges “could potentially speed it up. Where the flags come into play, I’m not really sure, but you not only want to get it right, you want to get it right quickly. So if someone’s watching it, and is on top of it, and has the use of replay very quickly, then that certainly doesn’t sound like a bad thing to me.”

Prospectively, managers will get three replay challenges per game, two in the first six innings and one in the final three, and all challenged plays will be ruled upon at MLB headquarters in New York City, similar to the way the National Hockey League rules on all of its controversial goal replays in Toronto.



Miscellany: Coco Crisp is out again today with a sore hand that is also recovering from an injection. Presumably, he could still pinch run. Jed Lowrie is at DH partly due to a sore right knee. There is no prognosis on catcher John Jaso’s return. It doesn’t sound like it will be anytime soon.






















Carl Steward