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Graveman winning many fans in clubhouse since his return

Kendall Graveman threw seven scoreless innings in leading A's past Rockies 7-1 Monday, ending a three-game Oakland losing streak.

Kendall Graveman threw seven scoreless innings in leading A’s past Rockies 7-1 Monday, ending a three-game Oakland losing streak.

Billy Butler saw something unusual in Kendall Graveman this spring.

“I saw a bulldog,’’ Butler said.

It was unexpected, because Graveman was a rookie who just 12 months earlier was pitching in Class-A for Toronto. He went out during spring training for the A’s, however, and was simply dominant.

That’s not supposed to happen. But when other rookies were taking their lumps, Graveman was leading the Cactus League in ERA.

Then the season began. He opened in the A’s starting rotation, but it took just four starts and an 8.27 ERA to convince the A’s he wasn’t ready. He was sent back to Triple-A Nashville for some work.

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Lew Wolff says one more time A’s `absolutely’ not for sale

A's owner Lew Wolff, seen here with club president Mike Crowley, says A's "absolutely are note for sale."

A’s owner Lew Wolff, seen here with club president Mike Crowley, says A’s “absolutely are not for sale.”

Suggestions that Warriors’ owner Joe Lacob is interested in buying the A’s quickly reached the ear of A’s co-owner Lew Wolff Monday.

His basic response to the suggestion in the San Francisco Chronicle of Lacob’s interest was that interested or not, Lacob won’t be buying the franchise for the simple reason that the A’s aren’t for sale.

“This has come up before,’’ Wolff said. “The club is absolutely not for sale. I haven’t talked to him about it. And if I did, it would be a short conversation.’’

The Oakland Raiders are trying to put together a package where they would build a new football-only stadium on the current site of the Coliseum, but the NFL team is also looking at sharing a facility in suburban Los Angeles with the San Diego Chargers.

Should the Raiders stay in Oakland, the A’s would have to find another home. Plans would call the Raiders to play elsewhere while the Coliseum is leveled and a new stadium football-only rises from its ashes.

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Muncy’s playing time limitations aren’t good for him, A’s

Max Muncy is getting almost no playing time these days, and on Sunday it showed.

Max Muncy is getting almost no playing time these days, and on Sunday it showed.

Ten days ago, when bringing first baseman Ike Davis and right-handed reliever Edward Mujica off the disabled list, the A’s had a choice to make.

They could keep infielder Andy Parrino, who is a good glove wherever he plays in the infield, or they could keep first baseman/third baseman Max Muncy.

The decision was to go with Muncy, which wasn’t perhaps the obvious choice. He’s left-handed, and so is Davis, so at-bats that Muncy had been getting with Davis on the disabled list were now gone.

And it’s not like Brett Lawrie, the third baseman, takes many day off. So where was the playing time going to come from for Muncy, who is someone the A’s see as an impact bat before his career is done?

On the other side there was Parrino. He is the best defensive shortstop the A’s have, and he’d been getting regular work taking over late in games for Marcus Semien. It could be argued that Semien, seen as the long-term shortstop for Oakland, needs to stay on the field to keep his learning curve high, but with the A’s starting to make a push – they’d won four in a row and six of eight on the day the move was made – a little late-inning defense might make for an extra win here or there.

So how has it turned out? Muncy had gotten into one game in the last 10 days since Davis and Mujica were activated. He hadn’t had an at-bat before getting Sunday’s start. It’s tough to have any offensive or defensive rhythm with that little time on the field, and it showed Sunday.

It was Muncy’s throwing error that led the way to a three-run sixth inning for Kansas City, and inning that proved decisive as the A’s lost for the third consecutive day to the Royals.

At the plate Muncy never got the ball out of the infield in four plate trips. He struck out twice and fouled out in the eighth inning, batting with a runner at second base. After all that time off, it wasn’t a fair test of his competitive ability, and the A’s know that.

Most scouts would say Muncy needs to be playing every day at Triple-A if the A’s don’t have room to play him now, and they don’t.

Muncy wants to be in Oakland, of course, and he refused to hide behind the lack of playing time for his throwing error.

“Not playing every day is no excuse,’’ he said. “When your name is called, you have to make the play. And I didn’t.’’

That response speaks well to Muncy’s maturity level. But if he’s going to be the player the A’s hope he will be, he can’t be sitting and rusting the way he has been. Oakland manager Bob Melvin doesn’t have room in his lineup the way the roster is currently constituted to give Muncy more than a token day here or there.

How is that helping the A’s? How is that helping Muncy?

The answer to both questions is, it’s not.

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Burns’ leg issues have cut into his explosiveness on bases; Lawrie, Semien get a day off; decision on Coke by July 10

Billy Burns has been missed by the A's offense while getting the last two games off to deal with leg issues.

Billy Burns has been missed by the A’s offense while getting the last two games off to deal with leg issues.

The A’s will be keeping a close eye on center fielder and leadoff man Billy Burns Sunday and for the next few days after he was given two days off to deal with some pain behind his right knee and a left hip flexor problem.

Burns didn’t ask for the time off, but manager Bob Melvin and the medical crew felt it was in the best interest of the club and the player to see if they could get him right. The A’s actually held off for a bit because Burns was (and is) in the middle of a 15-game hitting streak, the best for an Oakland hitter this year.

“I think I’ll come back more refreshed,’’ Burns said Sunday morning. “There was some tightness that meant I didn’t feel like I had my usual explosiveness when I was running.’’

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Vogt frustrated at letting Royals’ Davis off the hook

Stephen Vogt says he left Royals' reliever Wade Davis off the hook in eighth inning Saturday.

Stephen Vogt says he left Royals’ reliever Wade Davis off the hook in eighth inning Saturday.

The most frustrated man leaving the Coliseum Friday night was Stephen Vogt. He’d been hit by a pitch, and while his right wrist wasn’t fractured or broken, it was painful.

The most frustrated man leaving the Coliseum Saturday was Stephen Vogt. He’d gotten into the starting lineup but left men in scoring position in the third and fifth inning, and his at-bat in the eighth inning was the game’s pivot, and he struck out.

Wade Davis, who came into the game with a supernatural 0.29 ERA for the first dozen weeks of the season, had been asked by Royals’ manager Ned Yost to hold a 3-2 lead. Davis had only walked 10 men all season, but he walked both Sam Fuld and Brett Lawrie.

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Cook, Otero still are needed in the A’s bullpen, Melvin says

Ryan Cook,, along with Dan Otero, still will have a spot with the A's at some point later this season, manager Bob Melvin says.

Ryan Cook,, along with Dan Otero, still will have a spot with the A’s at some point later this season, manager Bob Melvin says.

Ryan Cook and Dan Otero, two men who have been key parts of the bullpen the last two seasons, are still working out their problems at Triple-A Nashville, but both are expected to be back with the A’s at some point.

“These are two guys we felt would be pitching late in games for us,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “And they have in the past. It just shows you how bullpens can be in flux from year to year.

“But we do need them, both of them, and I expect both of them to be back. We have to go on what we’re hearing from our development people down there. Both are making progress but at this point, we’ve had to make some adjustments.’’

The A’s are using right-handers Evan Scribner, Edward Mujica and Fernando Rodriguez late in games, situations in the past that would have called for Cook or Otero.

Before either is recalled, progress has to be shown, the manager said.

Both men pitched Friday for Nashville, Otero throwing the sixth and seventh innings without allowing a base runner while striking out four in the Sounds’ 3-2 win over Oklahoma City. Cook, charged with protecting a 2-1 lead in the ninth, blew the save but got the win when Nashville scored twice in the bottom of the ninth.

Otero has a 1.54 ERA and Cook is at 3.52. Otero may be closer to a return thanks to decent control, two walks in 11.2 innings since being sent down on June 5. Cook has walked 10 in 23 innings total in two different stays with Nashville. Otero had a 6.39 ERA when he was sent down while Cook’s struggles have included a 10.38 ERA.

 

–The A’s caught a break by not catching a break Friday. Stephen Vogt was hit on the hand by a 93-mph fastball, but his right wrist was intact and he was in Saturday’s lineup against the Royals.

Vogt was the DH, which only made sense, given that his right hand was still stinging, but Melvin said that having him as the designated hitter was not an absolute necessity. He could have caught or played first base.

“He’s a tough guy,’’ Melvin said, “Today being a day game, it’s well-served for him to DH.’’

Melvin was breathing a sigh of relief that there was no break.

“At the time it looked like it could be a lot worse,’’ Melvin said. “As long as it’s not broken, there’s a good chance he’s going to be in the lineup.’’

 

–Not in the lineup for the second day in succession was center fielder Billy Burns, who had played 34 games in succession before getting Friday and Saturday off.

“Billy still a little tight,’’ Melvin said of Burns’ legs. “If he was a first baseman or something, we could probably play him, but his legs are a big part of his game. We’ll give him one more day and I’m confident he’ll be able to play tomorrow.’’

The injury is being described as a hip flexor.

 

–Pat Venditte was all smiles after being on the field playing catch for the first time since going on the disabled list two weeks or go.

The switch-pitcher only threw right-handed, his right shoulder being the reason he landed on the disabled list. He will throw both lefty and righty his next time out, although it will be a while before he actually gets on a mound.

“It felt great to be able to just play catch,’’ Venditte said. “The shoulder felt much better than two weeks ago.’’

Venditte said that when he’s tried to throw from both side when injured in the past, even throwing from the uninjured side causes problems with the muscles of the shoulders and neck pulling at the injured area.

“We’ll work slowly and not put on extra pressure.’’

 

–The A’s Turn Back the Clock game Saturday included a visit from longtime Charlie Finley-era broadcaster Monte Moore, first pitches thrown by John “Blue Moon’’ Odom and Bert Campaneris and Charlie O., who was looking pretty sprightly for a 50-year-old mule.  Must’ve had some work done.

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A’s attitude suggests this forward surge could last a while

Jesse Hahn had high hopes for an A's comeback against the Royals Friday night.

Jesse Hahn had high hopes for an A’s comeback against the Royals Friday night.

When Stephen Vogt was hit by a pitch on his right hand in the ninth inning Friday night, it looked like a possible fracture and A’s pitcher Jesse Hahn winced.

Hahn and Vogt have worked well together for the most part, and Vogt “is someone we absolutely need to have healthy,’’ the pitcher said.

Hahn pitched six innings and was in the clubhouse when Vogt was hit. But when Vogt’s pinch-runner, backup catcher Josh Phegley, scored from first base on a booming double from Ben Zobrist, Hahn raced back to the dugout.

“I thought that might turn it around for us,’’ Hahn said. “I wanted to be in the dugout cheering the guys on when we came back.’’

That attitude says something about the A’s, a team that had won five consecutive games to climb out of the American League West cellar by percentage points entering play Friday.

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Sogard getting first-ever shot as a leadoff hitter

Eric Sogard get his first big league start as a leadoff hitter Friday vs. Royals.

Eric Sogard get his first big league start as a leadoff hitter Friday vs. Royals.

Eric Sogard moved into the A’s leadoff spot Friday, becoming the sixth different leadoff hitter employed by Oakland this season.

In taking over for Billy Burns for the night with Burns “a little banged up right now’’ in the words of manager Bob Melvin, Sogard is venturing into uncharted territory. He has played in 381 big league games since coming to the big league with the A’s in 2012, and in exactly none of them has he been the leadoff hitter.

“I’ve batted leadoff before,’’ Sogard said. `I just can’t remember when.’’

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Lawrie expects weekend series with Royals to be “just a baseball series”

This slide by Brett Lawrie fueled a heated series in April between the A's and Kansas City Royals, but Lawrie expects the series that resumes Friday to Oakland to be "just a baseball series."  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

This slide by Brett Lawrie fueled a heated series in April between the A’s and Kansas City Royals, but Lawrie expects the series that resumes Friday to Oakland to be “just a baseball series.” (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Everybody remembers the last time the A’s took on the Kansas City Royals.

Rather than a fine rematch of the American League Wild Card game, the series deteriorated into a string of bean balls and hot tensions. Royals pitcher Kelvin Herrera earned a five-game suspension for throwing at A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie, who was the target of the Royals’ ire after his slide into second base injured the Royals’ Alcides Escobar. Here’s some old reading if you want to rehash a little of it.  Continue Reading

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Vogt’s elbow “feels great”; he’s playing 1B Wednesday, will be back catching Thursday

Stephen Vogt is back in the lineup and says his elbow "feels great." (Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group)

Stephen Vogt is back in the lineup and says his elbow “feels great.” (Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group)

Stephen Vogt is back in the lineup Wednesday, as expected, and is playing first base. He said his elbow felt great after doing some early hitting in the cage and his cortisone shot from Sunday appears to be doing the trick.

“It’s been bothering me for about a month,” Vogt said. “Hopefully this shot will take care of it. We’ll have to see how it feels tomorrow catching.”

The plan is for Vogt to be back behind the plate for Thursday’s day game series finale here in Texas. He said his left elbow issue has been more bothersome while catching, although he did also feel it at times while hitting. But he hopes it’s a thing of the past. Continue Reading