Bassitt hasn’t won a game, but he’s won a job with A’s

Chris Bassitt has kept the A's in start after start, but A's have yet to reward him with a win.

Chris Bassitt has kept the A’s in start after start, but A’s have yet to reward him with a win.

There will be a time when Chris Bassitt gets his first win while wearing an A’s uniform.

It should have happened already, as well as Bassitt has pitched. But Thursday night was another game when Bassitt couldn’t make any mistakes because his offense wasn’t going to help him out.

Carlos Santana crushed him for a two-run homer in the first, a ball that Bassitt and catcher Stephen Vogt wanted on the inner half of the plate. It drifted over the middle “and Santana made me pay,’’ Bassitt said.

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Doolittle feeling strongest yet after BP session Thursday; getting into a game before 2015 is over at top of his list

Sean Doolittle is feeling at the top of his game and hopes to show it before the year is out.

Sean Doolittle is feeling at the top of his game and hopes to show it before the year is out.

Sean Doolittle hasn’t enjoyed anything baseball-wise in the last few months as throwing a 26-pitch bullpen before Thursday’s game with the Indians.

The A’s left-handed closer, who has been limited to one game this season between dueling bouts of shoulder pain, took to the bullpen mound down the left field line in the Coliseum.

“I threw everything I have,’’ Doolittle said. “Fastball, slider, changeup. And it felt good. For the majority of it I was throwing about 90 percent, but for the last handful I threw as hard as I possibly could, just to see how my body would feel tomorrow.’’

Manager Bob Melvin said this was the best he’d seen Doolittle throw, better even than when he’d been activated briefly in May.

“The ball had a lot more whip,’’ Melvin said. “His arm was further way from his body. Before I think he was cautious about letting the ball go.

There’s not much that can save Doolittle’s season, but if he could get back on a mound for a game or two, or even more, that would mean he would be able to head into the off-season knowing that he’d been in a game and had competed.

“That’s the goal,’’ Doolittle said. “It would be great to get out there again.’’

Bob Melvin isn’t going to get Doolittle for all that much time, so what the left-hander does statistically isn’t all that important. But the manager said getting past that mental hump of just competing will be important heading to next year.

“`Pitching some this year is psychologically important for him,’’ Melvin said. “It’s one thing to throw in the bullpen. It’s another to get out there and compete.’’


–As currently constituted, the A’s don’t really have backups for shortstop Marcus Semien and second baseman Eric Sogard, but that could change in the near future.

Tyler Ladendorf began the season in Oakland, got sent down to Triple-A Nashville and almost immediately suffered a left ankle injury. He needed surgery and only recently has been getting some at-bats in Arizona on a rehab assignment.

Ladendorf is a shortstop/second baseman by trade, and he would give the A’s some depth at the position. He made an impression in spring training and likely would have been with the A’s for a sizable chunk of the season had he not suffered the ankle injury.


–Outfielder Jake Smolinski was an infielder in high school and got in some games at second base and third base early in his minor league career, but he’s always been seen as an outfielder.

That perception changed a little Thursday. Coach Ron Washington suggested it was time for Smolinski to take some grounders at first base. Smolinski agreed and went through a grueling 40-minute workout before the A’s came out for batting practice.

“Like everybody, I played infield in high school,’’ Smolinski said. “After I got drafted they moved me to the outfield and I’ve been mostly playing there ever since.

“When Wash came to ask me about first base, I was all for it. Being more versatile will help the team, and it will help me.’’



–Thursday was supposed to be Brandon Moss’s return to the Coliseum, but the Indians traded the former A’s first baseman/outfielder to the St. Louis Cardinals early in the day and he never made it to Oakland.

–Coco Crisp was due to play a full nine-inning game Thursday with Class-A Stockton as part of his injury rehab assignment. He’s scheduled for two more games testing his neck, after which he may be ready to be activated for the first time since May.

–Pat Venditte flew Thursday to join the Nashville Sounds. He’ll pitch for them Friday and Saturday, and could be activated if his right shoulder continues to be sound.

–The three runs Chris Bassitt allowed in the first inning Thursday was more than he’d allowed in any of his previous four starts.



For one night, anyway, A’s bullpen up to its old tricks

Fernando Rodriguez was one strike away from preserving a 6-3 lead, but he never got it Wednesday.

Fernando Rodriguez was one strike away from preserving a 6-3 lead, but he never got it Wednesday.

Any thoughts that the A’s had put their bullpen troubles behind them were erased Wednesday night in Dodger Stadium.

Needing to get nine outs to secure a 6-3 win and get out of Dodger Stadium with a two-game series sweep, Oakland’s bullpen instead gave up seven runs in the last two innings. Manager Bob Melvin went through four of his relievers in those two innings and they combined to be scorched for seven hits and two walks.

The two walks both came from the first reliever, Fernando Rodriguez, and they turned the tide for Los Angeles.

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Even when closing, Mujica can’t get to bullpen fast enough

Edward Mujica plans on changing nothing now that he's been tasked with being the A's closer.

Edward Mujica plans on changing nothing now that he’s been tasked with being the A’s closer.

The closer is a heralded position on any baseball club.

While most relievers are in the bullpen to begin the game, there are relievers who don’t like to jump the gun. When he was closing for the A’s, Dennis Eckersley would spend the first six innings in the dugout or clubhouse.

The A’s new closer, Edward Mujica, will have none of that. He’s the man now that Tyler Clippard has been traded, but he is not about to change the way he approaches the game.

“I’ll get to the pen right away to start the game,’’ Mujica said. “I know some guys go out there late, but this is how I’ve always done it, whether I was closing or not.’’

Mujica has just one full season as a closer, but it was a season to write home about. He had 37 saves as the main man for the Cardinals in 2013, helping take St. Louis to the World Series. Before that he’d been a setup man, and he’d had success by not changing his game.

So it’s his plan to do the same now. He’ll do the same pregame work, and he’s still go fastball, slider and curve, with more than a little help from his catcher.

“When I’m in the bullpen, the catcher is in there for every pitch, he knows what all their hitters are doing,’’ Mujica said. “I’ll always follow the catcher’s lead when they’ve been out there for the full game.’’



–Coco Crisp got the night of Wednesday with Class-A Stockton after having a 3-for-4 night with two homers and three RBIs as a DH for the Ports Tuesday. A’s manager Bob Melvin has long marveled at how once Crisp gets close to being ready, his game revs up, and there’s hope that’s what’s happening now. Crisp, out for all but 13 games with elbow and neck injuries, could be back with Oakland sometime late this week, or early next.

–Closer Sean Doolittle, limited to one game this year by shoulder issues, has been playing catch without any pain, so he’s going to step it up some Thursday, throwing from a mound for the first time before the A’s-Indians game.

–Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte (right shoulder) has cleared all hurdles on his rehab assignment but for pitching in back-to-back games. He’s down to do that Friday and Saturday with Triple-A Nashville, after which he’s hoping he’ll be cleared to be activated from the disabled list.

–Josh Reddick had five hits in his first six at-bats in the Dodgers series, including a couple of doubles and a solo homer.

–Billy Burns’ opened the game with an infield single, his 26th of the season. That ranks second in the big leagues.



Reddick never felt in his heart that he would be traded

Josh Reddick never believed he would be traded, and he's been right about that to this point.

Josh Reddick never believed he would be traded, and he’s been right about that to this point.

The biggest of the A’s names not to get traded and not named Sonny Gray didn’t think there was much of chance he would be dealt.

Josh Reddick celebrated remaining with the A’s Tuesday with a double, single and homer in his first three at-bats against Brett Anderson. A former teammate, Anderson is a left-hander against whom Reddick might not have started if Ben Zobrist hadn’t been traded earlier in the day.

“It was special for me,’’ Reddick said of getting a chance to face Anderson. “I haven’t really had that opportunity. And it seems like it’s going to be that way with the trades that have happened.’’

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Changes galore for A’s: Brooks to start, Mujica to be closer; Lawrie may see extended time at second base

Edward Mujica will get a chance to close for A's now that Tyler Clippard has been traded.

Edward Mujica will get a chance to close for A’s now that Tyler Clippard has been traded.

In the last five days the A’s have lost their No. 2 starter, who also happens to have the league’s best ERA, their full-time utility player and their closer.

Think there might be a few jobs up for grabs with Oakland?

There are.

The first man to get a crack at taking over in the rotation for Scott Kazmir will be Aaron Brooks, the right-handed pitcher picked up Tuesday as part of the Ben Zobrist trade with the Royals.

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A’s talking about business side of baseball after wave of trades

Brett Lawrie was one of many A's to talk about the business side of the game Tuesday after three trades in five days.

Brett Lawrie was one of many A’s to talk about the business side of the game Tuesday after three trades in five days.

There’s nothing like an unpopular trade to get players to talk about how “baseball is a business.’’

When that phrase is uttered, it’s a good bet the player is going for the easiest justification.

And when there have been three trades in five days as has been the case with the A’s, with three proven and popular big leaguers shipped off to make pennant race runs elsewhere, that baseball-as-business is the handiest crutch around.

The way to have prevented the trades of Scott Kazmir, Tyler Clippard and now Ben Zobrist would have been to win more. And not all that much more, either, If the A’s, a Major League-worst 10-24 in one-run games, had won say six more of those, games they had a legit chance to win,  they be a .500 team and they’d have been close enough that general manager Billy Beane might have gone in another direction.

That would mean turning one-in-three of their one-run losses into wins. I you’ve been watching the A’s, you know it wouldn’t have taken that much. A few big hits and a few clutch pitches would have gotten the job done.

That didn’t happen.

“At the end of the day, baseball is a business,’’ third baseman Brett Lawrie said. “This is what happens. You hate to lose the guys we lost, guys we’d built relationships with, but this is what’s happened, and there’s nothing we can do about it now.’’

DH Billy Butler signed a three-year contract with the A’s last winter, and the team he is playing with now doesn’t look anything like the one he thought he’d be playing with. Yet he has taken it in stride.

“I’ve been through this a few times in Kansas City,’’ he said. “If you’re not in contention, then players who are in the last years of their contracts are going to be traded. There’s a lot of frustration because we didn’t play better.

“We lost a lot of those one-run games that we should have won.’’

Catcher Stephen Vogt said he’d spotted Zobrist Tuesday morning in the hotel with his family, well before the trade went down.

“I was thinking I should say goodbye, just in case,’’ Vogt said. “I’m sorry I didn’t.

“The frustrating thing is we put ourselves in this position. But we still have 60-some games to play, and I think I speak for everyone in this clubhouse that we will be trying to win each one.’’

Right fielder Josh Reddick echoed that.

“We still have a lot of games to play, and we’re going to go out every day like we have,’’ Reddick said. “We haven’t had our best year, and that’s one of the reasons we’re here now.’’

If it was up to Reddick, he would have held off on making the trades, although he says he realizes the July 31 trade deadline waits for no one.

“I would have liked to us see have more time,’’ he said.


A’s trade of Zobrist may be the last seismic shock for now; Beane suggests there is no trade of Reddick in the works

Ben Zobrist is off to Kansas City, but it seems that the A's may be done with big deals for the moment.

Ben Zobrist is off to Kansas City, but it seems that the A’s may be done with big deals for the moment.

The A’s July housecleaning may have come to a conclusion with Tuesday’s trade infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist to the Kansas City Royals.

This deal was the third trade of a veteran who will be a free agent at season’s end by Oakland. The move followed Thursday’s trade of left-handed starter Scott Kazmir to the Astros and Monday’s deal sending reliever Tyler Clippard to the Mets.

General manager Billy Beane said he didn’t anticipate any player due to return to the club next year would be moved, That still leaves the door open for the trade of relievers Eric O’Flaherty and Edward Mujica, both of whom will be free agents at the end of the season, but Beane seemed to shut down speculation that right fielder Josh Reddick would be moved.

Reddick, who is a free agent at the end of the 2016 season, drew some interest with his offensive game back close to where it was in 2012 and because he’s superior defender, but the A’s apparently didn’t hear an offer than intrigued them.

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The trade of McGwire in 1997 has lessons for A’s now

The trade of Mark McGwire in 1997 still has lessons for the 2015 A's

The trade of Mark McGwire in 1997 still has lessons for the 2015 A’s

(NOTE: This version of the story was written before the trade of  Tyler Clippard this afternoon)

The A’s will spend the next couple of nights in Chavez Ravine playing the Dodgers, for whom longtime A’s slugger Mark McGwire is the hitting coach.

When the cameras pan to McGwire, as they surely will, it would be well to think of former Oakland pitcher Scott Kazmir and the situation the 44-56 A’s have themselves in as the clock winds toward the July 31 trade deadline.

Eighteen years ago this week, the A’s traded McGwire to St. Louis for much the same reason Oakland traded Kazmir to Houston five days ago. The team was buried in the standings, McGwire was a free agent-to-be who wasn’t going to be coming back and Oakland wanted to try to rebuild for the future.

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With Clippard to Mets, Zobrist likely the next departure

Tyler Clippard and his 17 saves were dealt to the Mets Monday.

Tyler Clippard and his 17 saves were dealt to the Mets Monday.

Tyler Clippard became the second of the A’s veteran dominoes to fall Monday afternoon when Oakland traded their closer to the New York Mets.

In getting the deal done, the A’s sent $1 million along with Clippard to cover a portion of the approximate $3 million left on Clippard’s $8.3 million deal. In exchange, the A’s landed the Mets’ third-round pick in the 2013 draft, right-handed starting pitcher Casey Meisner.

A high school draftee out of suburban Houston, Meisner has been pitching at Class-A this season, first going 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA in a dozen starts with Savannah, then moving on to St. Lucie where he has made six starts, going 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA.

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