If Venditte is done for the season, he finished up a winner; Semien sets error record, but delivers game-winning homer

If Pat Venditte doesn't pitch in Sunday's season finale, his last 2015 game was a winner.

If Pat Venditte doesn’t pitch in Sunday’s season finale, his last 2015 game was a winner.

If Pat Venditte’s relief appearance Saturday was his last appearance of the year for the A’s – and given that it was three innings in Oakland’s 13-inning, 7-5 win over Seattle it should be – then he’s going out on a major high note.

After a seven-year career in the minor leagues, Venditte made it to the big leagues with the A’s as baseball’s first full-time switch pitcher. And he went out on three perfect innings of relief, getting the win on Marcus Semien’s two-run homer in the 13th.

“I’m not ready to assume that’s my last game just yet,’’ Venditte said. “But it was nice to go out and give the guys a chance to win. You know the game is over if you are not making pitches. It’s your job to go out and give the offense a chance, and however long that was going to be, that was my goal.’’

Continue Reading


Pomeranz mulling over having shoulder surgery

Drew Pomeranz is considering whether or not he'll have arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder this winter.

Drew Pomeranz is considering whether or not he’ll have arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder this winter.

A’s reliever Drew Pomeranz has heard the recommendation that he should have clavicle resection procedure to clear up problems in his left shoulder.

Oakland shut Pomeranz down the last week of with AC joint problems in his left shoulder. A similar issue sent him to the disabled list for .two weeks in May.

After reviewing an MRI on the shoulder, A’s associate team orthopedist Dr. Will Workman recommended to Pomeranz that he have some work done on his shoulder where he is dealing with some arthritic conditions.

“Drew is going to see some other opinions,’’ A’s trainer Nick Paparesta said Saturday. “He’ll sit down and determine if this is something he wants to do at this stage or if he just wants to let (the shoulder) calm down.’’

Recovery time on the procedure, which Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera once had on his right shoulder, is about six weeks.

“Usually when you think shoulder surgery, you think bad things, a year or whatever,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “What we’re being told now, it’s not that. If he does have this done, he should be fine come spring training.’’


–Elsewhere on the injury front as the season runs into its final weekend, the A’s are getting some positive results looking toward the 2016 season.

Starter Jarrod Parker continues to throw after having missed the last two seasons following 2013’s Tommy John surgery. The A’s had hoped to have him back mid-season, but as he was tuning up in the minor leagues he hurt his right elbow and needed surgery to mend a medial epicondyle fracture. The A’s don’t know if he will be available come spring training.

Starter A.J. Griffin, on the other hand, should be good to go next February in Mesa, Ariz. Like Parker, he’s coming back from missing two years after Tommy John surgery. He’s shut down now because of some tendinitis in his right shoulder. “I think Griffin hopefully should be a full-go once he gets to spring,’’ Melvin said.

Starter Jesse Hahn missed the second half of the season with a right forearm strain. He’s throwing now, still relatively softly and not to a great distance, but the A’s are optimistic that he will be good to go come spring training.

Catcher Josh Phegley, sidelined by a concussion late in September, didn’t travels with the A’s to Anaheim and Seattle on the final road trip. If he had, he might have played some, because he’s feeling exponentially better. “He’s good to the point if he was here with us now, he might be able to play one of these last couple of games,’’ Melvin said. “He’s made significant strides in how he feels;’’

First baseman Ike Davis had successful hip surgery in August and has been doing his rehab work in Arizona.



–36 players flew with the A’s on this last road trip, but only 15 will be flying back to Oakland. The other 21 are heading home from Seattle. The ones living in the Eastern Time Zone have time to kill Sunday and some are opting to watch the Seattle Sounders host the LA Galaxy at Century Link Field across the street from Safeco Field. Others are opting to watch Neil Young at the WaMu Theater downtown at the convention center.

–Big league clubs were given the option to use iPads (with their wireless functions disabled) in the dugouts the last week of the season as an experiment. Melvin said he’d prefer to wait to test the digital approach until spring training. “We’re kind of set on what we do in the dugout right now,’’ he said. “It seems like more of a spring training thing.’’

–A’s pitcher have allowed 83 homers in the last 52 games after having allowed just 87 in the first 108 games. The total of 170 homers given up is the seventh-highest total in Oakland history and the most by an A’s team since the 1998 squad allowed 179.



Is there room in A’s future for Danny Valencia at third base? Brooks makes his case for a legitimate run at 2016 rotation

Danny Valencia has had an impact in 2015 for A's; he's not sure what's in store for 2016.

Danny Valencia has had an impact in 2015 for A’s; he’s not sure what’s in store for 2016.

Does Danny Valencia have a future with the A’s?

The third baseman certainly has a present, including three hits and a game-winning homer for Oakland in Friday’s 4-2 win over the Mariners. He’s got a past, too, including 10 homers and 34 RBIs in 45 games since being claimed on waivers by the A’s on Aug. 3.

The future is never clear, although Valencia would like believe he’s found a home after spending half a decade as a baseball vagabond, playing for six different Major League teams since 2010.

“Obviously I wanted to make a good impression with the team,’’ Valencia said of his last two months. “I tried my best. It’s up to them to decide if they like it or not.’’

Continue Reading


It was no September to remember in Oakland

Sonny Gray has manager Bob Melvin's backing for AL Gold Glove winner among pitchers.

Sonny Gray has manager Bob Melvin’s backing for AL Gold Glove winner among pitchers.

The best thing that can be said about the A’s September is that it’s over. It was a nightmare to live through, though.

The A’s went 8-19 for the month, the worst month of a bad season for Oakland – 9-14 in April, 11-19 in May, 15-12 in June, 10-14 in July and 13-15 in August. It was the third-worst September in A’s history after 1978’s 7-20 and 1985’s 8-20.

Most of the trouble rested on the arms of the pitching. The A’s 6.73 ERA for the month not only was the worst September ERA in A’s history, it was the worst single month of pitching in the almost half-century the A’s have called Oakland home.

Additionally, the ERA was nearly a point and half higher than any of the other 29 big league teams, Atlanta next-to-last at 5.25.

To find worse, you have to (or at least the A’s research staff had to) go back to the 1939 team in Philadelphia when the A’s were at 7.50 for the month.


Continue Reading


Doolittle bests Pujols in battle of ninth-inning warriors

Sean Doolittle collected his third save Wednesday and had to go through Albert Pujols to do it.

Sean Doolittle collected his third save Wednesday and had to go through Albert Pujols to do it.

Sean Doolittle throws fastballs. Albert Pujols hits fastballs.

That made Wednesday’s ninth-inning confrontation between the A’s reliever and the Angels’ DH a classic of the genre.

Or, in the words of A’s catcher Stephen Vogt, “It was fun.’’

Doolittle’s inning had started with Kole Calhoun taking him deep, the homer cutting Oakland’s lead over the playoff-hungry Angels a single run at 8-7. Then Mike Trout singled, meaning that Pujols and his 558 career homers was at the plate as the potential winning run.

“It was a kind of `Is this going to end’ thing,’’ Vogt said. “Is it going to be Pujols doing what Pujols does or Doolittle getting the popup like he does.’’

Continue Reading


Muncy will be adding second base, Spanish to resume

Max Muncy will work on his defensive versatility during winter ball playing in Guadalajara in Mexico.

Max Muncy will work on his defensive versatility during winter ball playing in Guadalajara in Mexico.

Max Muncy, who grew up in Texas, says his command of the Spanish language is a little shaky, but he expects that to change this winter.

Muncy will finish up the season with the A’s in Seattle this weekend, will fly home for two days, then will take off for Mexico where he will play at least the first half of the Mexican winter baseball league.

“I think the Spanish will get better when I’m in Guadalajara,’’ Munch said. He’ll be playing for Charros de Jalisco under manager Juan Navarrete, the A’s organization’s minor league defensive coordinator.

If all goes well, Spanish won’t be the only improvement. Muncy, a first baseman/third baseman with the A’s, will get a chance to play second base under Navarrete.

“There should be a lot of second base,’’ Muncy said. He’s been working pregame the last few months with A’s third base coach Ron Washington working on his middle infield skills.

Continue Reading


Bassitt down on himself after pitching `stupid’ vs. Angels; A’s hitters in a major funk with 13 strikeouts vs. Tropeano

A's starter Chris Bassitt said he's feeling too good to be giving up runs the way he did Tuesday in 8-1 loss to Angels

A’s starter Chris Bassitt said he’s feeling too good to be giving up runs the way he did Tuesday in 8-1 loss to Angels

Chris Bassitt took the ball, then threw the ball.

That’s not pitching, he admits.

“It’s just stupid,’’ Bassitt said after getting shelled for six runs in 3.2 innings Tuesday in the A’s 8-1 loss to the Angels.

“I feel so good,’’ the A’s 6-foot-5 power-prone right-hander said after his second start since a strain in his right shoulder cleared up. “I feel so good that I’m throwing instead of pitching, and that’s just being stupid.

“I feel too good to be doing what I’m doing.’’

Bassitt, 26, is one of the younger arms being groomed for a run at the A’s rotation next spring. And the A’s like much of what they see.

Manager Bob Melvin would gladly go with someone who has the quality of stuff belonging to Bassitt next year, but he would like to see more than he has from Bassitt, who is 1-8 with a 3.60 ERA after giving up a career-high six earned runs.

“His stuff was good, but his command wasn’t perfect,’’ Melvin said. “I saw some 97s, some 96s, some 95s.’’

The essence of the problem for Bassitt was pitching with two out. The Angels were 7-for-10 in that situation while Bassitt was in the game, and that stung. All six of the runs he allowed were brought home on two-out hits.

“It sucks that I couldn’t get the last out,’’ Bassitt said. “The fastball I felt I could blow by hitters. Instead of getting good natural sink and weak ground balls, I got the ball up a little and they hit hard ground balls.’’

Vogt hadn’t caught Bassitt since Aug. 26, both men having been sidelined by injuries, but he liked what he saw.

“He had good breaking pitches, a nice cutter and changeup,’’ Vogt said. But his command was a little off. But I thought other than the Johnny Giavotella double (producing two runs in the fourth) the other stuff hit off him wasn’t hit that hard.’’

Bassitt may get one more start before the season is over. His fifth day would be Sunday, the final day of the season in Seattle. And the A’s are short of starting pitchers, so it’s unlikely he’d get squeezed out by anyone else.

It will be one final chance for him to show why he needs a priority position in the running for the 2016 A’s rotation.

The A’s have Sonny Gray penciled it, but beyond that, most of the other prime contenders beyond Bassitt and Sean Nolin are currently injured – Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Jesse Hahn, Kendall Graveman and Jesse Chavez all are on the 60-day disabled list.

Oakland might be lucky enough or all five of those to come back healthy next spring, but given the nature of injuries, that seem unlikely. So Bassitt has one more chance to get a leg up on the completion Sunday.


–A’s hitters struck out 13 times Tuesday, a number that is tied for the fourth-highest total of the season.

Angels’ starter Nick Tropeano was good, but he hadn’t struck out more than nine in a game this year – a minor league game – before fanning at least two A’s hitters in five of the first six innings. He finished with a career-high 11 strikeouts.

“The first couple of times through the order, we didn’t even put good swings together,’’ Vogt said. “When you can fool Major League hitters like that, your stuff is pretty good.’’

Tropeano had struck out nine in a triple-A game this year but hadn’t fanned more than five in any of his previous 11 big league starts.

“We knew he’d throw his changeup and slider in off-counts, and he did,’’ Melvin said. “He kept us off balance. He had a little more velocity on his heater than we expected, but just a good slider.’’



A’s lose yet another pitcher with Pomeranz done

Drew Pomeranz's season is over; he'll have an MRI in the Bay Area this week to see if there is any damage to his left shoulder.

Drew Pomeranz’s season is over; he’ll have an MRI in the Bay Area this week to see if there is any damage to his left shoulder.

The A’s are going right down to the wire with pitching injuries with Drew Pomeranz pronounced done for the season Tuesday with just five games left on the schedule.

Pomeranz, a left-hander, began the season in the starting rotation but came down with a sprained left AC joint in his shoulder on May 18. When he came back on June 4, it was as a reliever, and he made just one start the rest of the season.

Manager Bob Melvin, who just announced Monday that starter Sonny Gray wouldn’t pitch again this year, said Pomeranz was returning to the Bay Area to have an MRI on his left shoulder. When the problem originally cropped up in May, a cortisone shot was used to help get Pomeranz back on the field.

Continue Reading


Hired for Instructional League stint, Siegel makes history

Justine Siegal, seen here throwing batting practice to the A's in 2011, is the first woman hired as a coach by an MLB team. She'll work withi A's Instructional League team from Oct. 4-17.

Justine Siegal, seen here throwing batting practice to the A’s in 2011, is the first woman hired as a coach by an MLB team. She’ll work withi A’s Instructional League team from Oct. 4-17.

Justine Siegal became the first woman coach employed by a Major League team Tuesday when the A’s hired her for a two-week stint as a guest instruction with the club’s Instructional League club in Arizona.

Siegal, who has completed Major League Baseball’s scout school and who threw batting practice for six teams, including the A’s, in the spring of 2011, said A’s general manager Billy Beane back then was the first GM to sign on for that.

She and Beane have stayed in touch and “I’ve always made my hopes known’’ that she would break into baseball.

“There is no Jackie Robinson without Branch Rickey,’’ Siegal told this newspaper by telephone, referring to the Brooklyn Dodgers general manager who hired Robinson to break baseball’s color barrier. “It’s going to be a great two weeks. I’m going to focus on being the best coach I can for those two weeks.’’

Siegal joins the A’s Instructional League team on Sunday and will work there until Oct. 17. She joins other female coaching pioneers such as Becky Hammon, who was a full-time assistant under Gregg Popovich with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs last season, and Jen Welter, who was an assistant coaching intern with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals this past training camp.

A’s assistant general manager David Forst called Siegal “more than qualified, no matter what gender’’ and said the organization’s belief is that it is better served with “a diversity of voices and opinions.’’

Siegal became the first woman to coach men’s baseball professionally in 2009 as the first base coach for the Brockton Rox, an independent team. She currently serves as head coach for Baseball For All, a national nonprofit organization looking to provide meaningful instruction and opportunity in baseball, particularly for girls.

For her two weeks in Arizona with the A’s Instructional League team, she will assist the A’s player development staff both on and off the field. She holds a PhD. in sport and exercise psychology from Springfield College, where she was an assistant baseball coach from 2008-10.

In the spring of 2011, Siegal threw batting practice for the A’s, the Indians, the Rays, the Cardinals, the Astros and the Mets. She also completed the Major League Scouting Bureau’s scout school.

“Player reaction in the past has usually been surprise to have a woman in the job,’’ Siegal said. “Then they realize I know what I’m talking about, and then I become another guy on the field.’’

Siegal’s ultimate goal is to coach full time, “but we’ll start with this,’’ she said.

Forst said this is “not a tryout’’ and that something happening in the future “depends on both parties finding a fit whether it’s soon or in the future.’’

A’s manager Bob Melvin said he was looking forward to meeting Siegal. He will be in Arizona shortly after the season ends Sunday. He said she wouldn’t be throwing batting practice but would take part in on-field drills and classroom work.

“I’m really honored by this,’’ Siegal said. “Beane was the first to say yes to me throwing batting practice, and I’m honored the A’s will go out on a limb. I do feel qualified.’’



One-run losses like Monday’s don’t get better with age

David Murphy's game-winning hit Monday was set up by base running, defensive and hitting problems that have plagued Oakland this season.

David Murphy’s game-winning hit Monday was set up by base running, defensive and hitting problems that have plagued Oakland this season.

The A’s lost a one-run game Monday for just the third time in September, which isn’t bad.

What is bad is that the A’s have lost one-run games 34 times this season while winning just 18. The season’s first five months seemed like every loss was by one run.

So to lose 5-4 to the Angels on David Murphy’s pinch-hit walkoff single with the bases loaded Monday after coming from 5-0 down to lose 5-4 to the Giants Sunday in Oakland continues to have a bad taste to it.

Right fielder Josh Reddick said the other day that if Oakland had won half of the one-run games they’d lost, the club would be in contention. He’s not far off. To have 17 more wins and 17 fewer losses would put the A’s at 82-75, which with five games left in the season would leave them in fourth place, but just 2½ games out of first in the American League West.

That’s just half a game behind where the Angels are now, and the Anaheim crew is playing like a post-season team, having won six straight and nine of 11 while the two teams in front of them, the Rangers and the Astros, are flat-lining a bit.

Continue Reading