A new spot for all of your A’s coverage


As many of you have already noticed, we have made some changes to the way you receive your A’s coverage, but not the coverage itself.

The Bay Area News Group recently launched a new and improved website that functions much better across all platforms (desktop, mobile, tablet) and increases our ability to get the latest news out to you as fast as possible.

With that launch, the Oakland Athletics blog will no longer be populated. The blog site will still be here in an archived form, but we won’t be adding new content and all our new A’s coverage will be posted at http://www.mercurynews.com/sports/oakland-athletics.


Can new kids on the block relocate A’s from the cellar?

Will Joey Wendle and the rest of A's newcomers lead an escape from last place?

Will Joey Wendle and the rest of A’s newcomers lead an escape from last place?

It won’t mean much outside the West Coast if the A’s were to do an about-face in the final four weeks of the season and pass the Angels in the standings.

Both teams have had miserable years. The A’s finished dead last in the AL last year, and while a repeat of that is unlikely with the Twins having nine more losses than the A’s to this point, they are last in the AL West with a 59-79 record.

The Angels have trailed the A’s much of a yo-yo season, but a recent surge had moved the Anaheim crew four games up on the A’s in battle to avoid cellar rental. If the Angels would have won Tuesday’s game to stretch that lead to five games, the A’s would have had few answers as to how to take the Angels down.

But coming into Wednesday, the A’s are only three back, and a win Wednesday would not only give the A’s a series win by a realistic chance of finishing out of last place.

And when vacating last place is all there is for a baseball team, it matters quite a bit, regardless of what outsiders might believe.

Do the A’s have enough in the tank to escape the cellar? Not unless they get some unexpected help. But they got some Tuesday night from a pair of rookies, Ryon Healy and Joey Wendle, who drove in all of the Oakland runs in the eighth inning of a 3-2 win that stole a seemingly easy victory from the Angels.

But there are new faces here, and more on the way. Jharel Cotton, the Virgin Islands native who came over in the Rich Hill/Josh Reddick trade with the Dodgers on Aug. 1, gets his first Major League game in a start Wednesday.

Raul Alcantara, who stumbled through his MLB debut Monday, will, manager Bob Melvin believes, be better now that he’s had a game to get his nerves under control.

And then there are some minor league hitters, including first baseman Matt Olson and center fielder Jaycob Brugman could get looks, as could slugger Renato Nunez, who doesn’t have a regular position but who hit 23 homers and drove in 75 runs while bouncing between left field and third base.

Could they make the difference between last place and fourth place for the A’s?

That’s what the next four weeks are all about.



Jharel Cotton’s long trip from Virgin Islands to join A’s starting rotation plus a double dose of Alcantara

Jharel Cotton, who came to the A's in the Josh Reddick-Rich Hill trade with the Dodgers, makes his MLB debut Wednesday.

Jharel Cotton, who came to the A’s in the Josh Reddick-Rich Hill trade with the Dodgers, makes his MLB debut Wednesday.

When Jharel Cotton was 7 and hanging around his house in the Virgin Islands watching TV, he said his stepdad told him he needed to get outside

He did as told, ran into a local baseball game, liked what he saw and said he wanted to play, too. On Wednesday, 17 years later, he makes his Major League debut as the starting pitcher for the A’s in the series finale against the Angels.

The 5-11, 195-pound right-hander moved to the Virginia when he was 16 in order to play a higher level of high school baseball and eventually made it to East Carolina University where the Dodgers made him a 20th-round pick in the 2012 draft.

He was making some progress toward to Dodgers rotation this year when he got word that changed everything.

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Henderson Alvarez, Andrew Triggs both done for the season as Oakland’s starting rotation continues to take injury hits

Henderson Alvarez, who had hoped to pitch the final two-thirds of the season with Oakland, has been shut down for the year because of ongoing shoulder pain.

Henderson Alvarez, who had hoped to pitch the final two-thirds of the season with Oakland, has been shut down for the year because of ongoing shoulder pain.

After six months of hoping that Henderson Alvarez would  be able to join their starting rotation, the a’s have given up for this year with Alvarez’s right shoulder continuing to give him trouble.

Manager Bob Melvin said Alvarez, who pitched three innings on an injury rehabilitation assignment last week, continues to feel discomfort. He will leave the team sometime this week and will visit Dr. James Andrews, the orthopedist who performed the original surgery on Alvarez’s right shoulder in July, 2015.

At the same time, the A’s say that Andrew Triggs, the reliever-turned-starter who came out of his last start after one inning after back trouble, won’t be pitching again this season.

“Henderson is having a tough time again with his shoulder,’’ Melvin said. “He’ won’t probably pitch this year, and he’s going to see Dr. Andrews again. Unfortunately he’s hit another hurdle and I really feel bad for him. This is a guy who has worked so hard to get back with us. He’s been right on the cusp a couple of different times, then has had to go back on the rehab cycle, which is very difficult to do.

“My heart goes out for him. Hopefully we get this thing settled, whether it’s another surgery we’re not sure. But this is an issue that has been with him all year. This is a great kid who loves to pitch. Always has a smile on his face.’’

Alvarez was twice one injury rehab start away from joining the A’s rotation. The first time was in June and then again about a month later he was close again. Melvin said he was guessing, but Alvarez might never have been right after that first time he was shut down.

The A’s have had Alvarez, who signed last winter as a free agent with the A’s willing to take a gamble on a right-hander who was a 2014 National League All-Star, undergo a series of MRIs since June in an effort to locate the problem. None so far has been able to do so, which is why Melvin said another surgery might be necessary.

“Dr. Andrews will make that decision,’’ Melvin said.

As for Triggs, who had hopped the back pain was just a minor setback, he hasn’t even been allowed to begin strengthening exercises. He came out of a Sept. 2 start after one inning and had he remained healthy, his next start would have come up Wednesday.

“I doubt he will pitch again this year,’’ Melvin said. “We don’t have a schedule for him to throw yet.’’


New music, same results for the A’s Sean Doolittle

Sean Doolittle was back on the mound for the A's Monday after missing 59 games and he brought new music with him.

Sean Doolittle was back on the mound for the A’s Monday after missing 59 games and he brought new music with him.

For most of his big league career, Sean Doolittle has come out of the A’s bullpen to the sounds of Metallica playing “For Whom The Bell Tolls.’’

No more.

When he return to the A’s by walking from the bullpen to the mound to start the seventh inning Monday, it was still Metallica, but this time the song was “Disposable Heroes.’’

None of which seemed to matter to a crowd of 18,149 who’ve been waiting since June to see Doolittle, the one-time A’s closer, on the mound again.

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Ryan Dull benefits from some time off, as do the A’s

Ryan Dull, here paired with catcher Stepohen Vogt, was sharp Sunday after getting almost a week off.

Ryan Dull, here paired with catcher Stepohen Vogt, was sharp Sunday after getting almost a week off.

Ryan Dull, as much as anyone, has been the backbone of the A’s bullpen this year.

The rookie reliever hasn’t gone on the disabled list, ranks in the top 10 in the American League in games pitched, has a 2.32 ERA, has allowed just 14 percent of inherited runners to score and hitters are averaging just .078 against him with runners in scoring position.

Dull was, however, a non-factor in the A’s bullpen in the last week until Sunday, when he reappeared to throw 1.2 scoreless innings in helping the A’s beat the Red Sox 1-0.

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Mengden joins the clubbed club as Red Sox hammer A’s by double digits yet again

On Jose Canseco Bobblehead Night, the A’s once again got bashed by the Boston Red Sox.

After delivering a 16-2 bludgeoning in the series opener, the Red Sox followed up with a 17-hit onslaught en route to a 11-2 victory over Oakland Saturday night at the Coliseum, the fifth straight game this year Boston has scored double-digit runs against the beleaguered A’s, who lost their fifth straight before a crowd of 30,045.

Oakland starter Daniel Mengden (1-6) gave up seven runs over the first 2 2/3 innings on eight Red Sox hits, including a two-run double by Mookie Betts in the first inning that got things rolling.

Boston broke things open with a seven-run third, and did it all after two out and nobody on. Hanley Ramirez hit his 20th home run to start the scoring parade, followed by four subsequent doubles in the inning by Sandy Leon, rookie Yoan Moncada (the Cuban top prospect’s first major-league hit), Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz, who had three hits in the game including a pair of doubles.
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Daniel Mengden will get Saturday’s start for A’s, who will spend weekend playing on turf cut up by two NFL games

Daniel Mengden will get called up by the A's to start Saturday vs. the Red Sox.

Daniel Mengden will get called up by the A’s to start Saturday vs. the Red Sox.

Daniel Mengden made the trip from Nashville to Oakland will make Saturday’s start against the Red sox.

Manager Bob Melvin said Mengden, who will be activated before the game, has pitched better that his 1-5 record and 5.73 ERA with Oakland would suggest.

The club likes his assortment of pitches and when they sent him down the last time, it was because they saw signs of midseason weariness in him. He was 8-2 with a 1.67 in his time with Triple-A Nashville.

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A’s focus turns to 2017 as calendar turns to September

First baseman Matt Olson could be one of many to get a look with the A's this month.

First baseman Matt Olson could be one of many to get a look with the A’s this month.

Welcome to 2017.

While most of baseball is concentrating on finishing up business regarding the 2016, the A’s will be one of a minority of Major League teams whose prime focus will be the future.

“It’s fair to say a lot of September will be about evaluating players for next year and beyond,’’ A’s general manager David Forst said Thursday. “Some of the players we’re talking about are already here.’’

More will be coming with the expansion of rosters MLB goes through every September, going from 25 roster spots to as many as 40.

The elevation of Ryon Healy to the starting third base job after the All-Star break was the beginning. The promotions in the last month of outfielder Brett Eibner and infielders Chad Pinder and Joey Wendle added fuel to the blaze.

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Joey Wendel, Chad Pinder A’s new platoon at second base

Joey Wendle will be half of A's second base platoon.

Joey Wendle will be half of A’s second base platoon.

Joey Wendel, who was almost certainly going to be called up after the rosters expanded from 25 to 40 on Thursday, got a jump on the competition when he was promoted Wednesday from Triple-A Nashville to Oakland and immediately went into the A’s starting lineup.

The arrival of Wendel, picked up from the A’s in the Brandon Moss trade of two winters ago, does a minor remake of the A’s infield. Max Muncy, who had been getting most of the work at second base, will step into the outfield as a backup with Wendle and Chad Pinder, called up last week, moving into a platoon at second base.

“I didn’t think it would be this soon,’’ Wendle admitted. He was called into Nashville manager Steve Scarsone’s office Tuesday night and told him he’d been promoted.

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