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Pregame: Jesse Hahn to make A’s season debut Saturday

Oakland Athletics' Jesse Hahn (32) fields the ball during spring training at Lew Wolff Training Complex in Mesa, Ariz., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

Right-hander Jesse Hahn will start for the A’s on Saturday against the Hpuston Astros at the Colisuem. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

***Ray Hacke is filling in for John Hickey on Saturday. Here are his pregame notes***

OAKLAND – The A’s called up pitcher Jesse Hahn from Triple-A Nashville to start Saturday’s home game against the Houston Astros.

Hahn went 6-6 with a 3.35 ERA in 16 starts for the A’s in 2015 before spending the final three months of the season on the disabled list with a strained right forearm. The right-hander then began the season in Nashville after a disastrous spring in which he posted a whopping 11.15 ERA.

Cactus League batters hit .382 against Hahn.

“He probably didn’t have a lot on his fastball,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Our reports are that he does now.”

The numbers bear that out. Despite a rough last outing, Hahn posted a 2.04 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .246 average in four starts at Nashville.

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Postgame: Yonder Alonso caps A’s rally with walk-off HR

Oakland Athletics' Yonder Alonso watches his three-run home run against the Houston Astros in the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 29, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. The Athletics won 7-4. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Yonder Alonso watches his walk-off three-run home run against the Houston Astros in the ninth inning on Friday night as the A’s rallied to win 7-4. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

OAKLAND – As far as major league debuts go, Sean Manaea gave the A’s a chance Friday night as the big left-hander with bushy black hair pitched into the sixth inning before departing with the score tied.

But the prized arm in the trade that sent Ben Zobrist to Kansas City last July had to wait a while to celebrate.

Houston scored three runs in the sixth – all charged to Manaea – to take the lead, but the A’s rallied for two in the eighth to tie the score and won 7-4 when Yonder Alonso blasted a three-run, walk-off home run to right in the ninth.

“He’s got that kind of power,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s been swinging better a little bit in batting practice.”

Stephen Vogt led off the decisive inning with a fly to left-center that got past center fielder Carlos Gomez and rolled to the wall for a double. Three batters later, Alonso smashed a 1-0 offering from Pat Neshek into the seats, putting an end to a slide in which Oakland had lost five of six games.

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Pregame: A’s place Chris Bassitt (elbow) on DL; Jesse Hahn to start Saturday

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin takes the ball from pitcher Chris Bassitt in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, Thursday, April 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

A’s manager Bob Melvin takes the ball from pitcher Chris Bassitt in the fourth inning of a game against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

***Darren Sabedra here filling in for John Hickey. Here is the latest pregame news from the A’s clubhouse***

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OAKLAND — Chris Bassitt’s pitching arm had not felt right since spring training, but the A’s right-hander figured it was usual soreness starters experience as workloads increase.

After his second straight rough out, Thursday against Detroit, Bassitt let the team’s brass know that the arm was not right.

He underwent an MRI on Friday — results have not been announced — and was placed on the 15-day disabled list with what the team called a strained right elbow.

“We’re not sure of the severity yet,” manager Bob Melvin said. “But we do know that we need to put him on the disabled list.”

Bassitt’s status was among a series of moves of the A’s made Friday, hours before top pitching prospect Sean Manaea was to make his major league debut as Oakland begins a home series against the Houston Astros. Continue Reading

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A’s Jed Lowrie geared up for Astros arrival this weekend

Jed Lowrie would like nothing better than for A's to come up big against his 2015 team, the Astros, this weekend.

Jed Lowrie would like nothing better than for A’s to come up big against his 2015 team, the Astros, this weekend.

When Jed Lowrie played for the A’s in 2013 and 2014 he really wanted to beat the Red Sox and the Astros, the two teams he’d played before arriving in Oakland.

Last year he was back with the Astros, and boy, did he want to beat the A’s. And now he’s back in Oakland and the Astros are coming to town. Nothing has changed.

“Oh yeah, I want to beat them for sure,’’ Lowrie said. “That’s the way I’ve always been, though. Whatever jersey I have on, I am here to win.

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A’s Sonny Gray can’t wait to erase Wednesday from mind

Sonny Gray struggled through two innings Wednesday. It left a bitter taste in his mouth.

Sonny Gray struggled through two innings Wednesday. It left a bitter taste in his mouth.

Wednesday night wasn’t the first time Sonny Gray has been off this month. It was, however, the first time it really cost him.

Gray couldn’t find home plate with a GPS system, walking four and throwing 65 pitches in just two innings. He’d never had such a short start, but he wasn’t about to argue when manager Bob Melvin told him he was done.

“No arguments,’’ Gray said. “I don’t know when that last time was that happened.’’

It was clearly Gray’s worst performance of the season. At the same time, He’s struggled this entire month, which is troubling, because his previous Aprils have been outstanding.

Last year he went 3-0 for the month with a 1.98 ERA and for his career he was 7.1 with a 2.02 ERA.

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A’s call up Sean Manaea; he’ll debut Friday vs. Astros

Left-hander Sean Manaea will make his first big league start Friday against the Astros, and A’s manager Bob Melvin said the club expects to keep him in the rotation long term.

“I think once you bring up a guy like this, you are thinking more for the long haul,’’ Melvin said before Wednesday’s game with the Tigers. “We think he’s ready to go. You make your reps here in the big leagues based on performance. He wouldn’t be coming here if we didn’t think he had the ability to stay here.’’

The 6-foot-5 24-year-old has a fastball that sits at 96-97 mph, a good curve and an improving changeup, which is why the A’s insisted on getting him from Kansas City when they traded Ben Zobrist to the Royals at the trade deadline last July. When the season started Manaea was ranked as the second-best prospect in the organization and the 48th-best in the big leagues according to Baseball America.

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A’s Josh Reddick takes tip from Darren Bush, makes it work

Josh Reddick is on a tear with nine hits in his last four games, including three in Tuesday's 5-1 win over Detroit.

Josh Reddick is on a tear with nine hits in his last four games, including three in Tuesday’s 5-1 win over Detroit.

Hitting coach Darren Bush had some ideas about why Josh Reddick had struggled during a three-game series in New York.

The A’s won two of three, but Reddick only had a couple of hits in 12 at-bats.

A younger Josh Reddick might not have been as ready to listen as the 2016 version. But Bush and Reddick talked it out, and the A’s right fielder now has four consecutive multiple-hit games, including three hits in Tuesday’s 5-1 win over Detroit.

“Give the credit to Bushy,’’ Reddick said. “Bushy has been talking to me a lot after really struggling in New York. Going into Toronto he talked about staying closed and keeping the front hip toward the pitcher as opposed to not stepping toward first base.

“That was obviously the one thing that needed fixing. Once we tweaked that, things are going to change.’’

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Sean Murphy’s death hits A’s clubhouse hard

The news of the death of former A’s minor league pitcher Sean Murphy Tuesday hit the A’s clubhouse hard.

Many of the players who have spent time working their way through the minor league system were close to Murphy, 27, whose cause of death wasn’t immediately known.

“When I was going through rehab last year he’d had Tommy John surgery and we worked out together all the time,’’ infielder/outfielder Tyler Ladendorf said. “I think we played together for about four years. It’s just a shock. Everybody wants to know what happened.

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A’s Andrew Triggs makes most of MLB debut

Nashville manager Steve Scarsone has never been one to let a good prank slip by. He often saves his good stuff for the times when he’s able to tell one of his players he is going to the big leagues.

Such was the case Sunday when Andrew Triggs, a 27-year-old right-hander with minimal Triple-A experience got the call to the bigs from Oakland.

“I was the bullpen coach yesterday, and I had the walkie-talkie,’’ Triggs said. “Scar brought me in after the game and told me I’d broken it, and I’d have to pay for it. And then he said I had to go buy a new one in Oakland.’’

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A’s demote Eric Surkamp; Andrew Triggs up; Hahn likely to start Friday vs. Astros, but Manaea remote possibility

Lefty Eric Surkamp was sent to Triple-A Nashville Monday after giving up six runs in 4.2 innings in Toronto Sunday.

Lefty Eric Surkamp was sent to Triple-A Nashville Monday after giving up six runs in 4.2 innings in Toronto Sunday.

The A’s demotion of left-handed starter Eric Surkamp Monday leaves Friday’s spot in the rotation open, and while that will likely be filled by Jesse Hahn, the A’s aren’t ready to commit to him or to lefty Sean Manaea.

“We’re not sure yet,’’ manager Bob Melvin said after the club brought up reliever Andrew Triggs to take Surkamp’s name on the roster. “We’ll make a decision at the proper time for that.’’

The proper time may well depend on the weather for this week’s four-game series in Comerica Park. Rain had the potential to be a problem Monday and rain is expected again for the getaway game on Thursday afternoon.

The A’s had expected Hahn to make the starting rotation out of spring training, but he struggled throughout Cactus League play. Surkamp made the rotation when Felix Doubront was injured and Hahn was ineffective. Surkamp’s signature game was a seven-inning relief performance in his Bay Bridge Series start against the Giants April 2 in the Coliseum.

Even at the time, Melvin said he’d “be shocked if Hahn wasn’t back, and in our estimation very soon, too.’’ If the A’s make the move now, it would be after four Pacific Coast League starts for Hahn with the Nashville Sounds.

Manaea was one of the A’s big finds of the spring, and while he has a 2-0 record, 1.50 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, he’s not on the 40-man roster, and the A’s would have to find space on the 40-man rotation, not always an easy thing to do.

The right-hander had been expected to be the second or third starter in the rotation, but he fought his control all spring and didn’t look anything like the pitcher he’d been with the A’s last year, compiling an 11.15 ERA in spring training.

Hahn had allowed one run in his first 14 innings for the Sounds before Sunday, when he allowed three runs in 3.1 innings, giving up seven hits. His ERA sits at 2.04 with a 1.42 WHIP and .246 opponents’ batting average.

 

–The A’s claimed Triggs on waivers in March from Baltimore, which apparently wasn’t willing to wait on a 27-year-old who’d pitched in just one game above Double-A level.

But he’d had a tremendous 2015 season at Double-A Bowie with a 1.03 ERA, 17 saves and .196 opponents’ batting average.

“It would have been nice to see in the spring,’’ Melvin said. “But we’ve seen some video of him, people in development like him, he’s got some deception to his delivery and all reports are good.’’

Triggs’ numbers with Nashville aren’t bad if you look past his 5.14 ERA. He’s 2-1 and opponents are hitting just .214 against him. His bloated ERA stems from an April 14 appearance in which he allowed three earned runs in one-third of an inning. Beyond that, he’s allowed just one run in 6.2 innings this month.

Triggs has been with three organizations – the Royals, Orioles and now A’s – in the last 13 months, and the claim by Oakland worked out well for him. Nashville, in addition to being the A’s Triple-A location, is Triggs’ hometown, so he’d been pitching in front of family consistently.

And his parents, Betty and Austin, flew Monday from Nashville to Detroit with the hope of witnessing his big league debut.

Triggs said Nashville manager Steve Scarsone played a trick on him in telling him he’d been promoted.

“I was the bullpen coach yesterday, and I had the walkie-talkie,’’ Triggs said. “Scar brought me in after the game and told me I’d broken it, and I’d have to pay for it. And then he said I could do it in Oakland. That was cool, obviously a thrill.’’

 

NOTES

–Jed Lowrie said he’s been having calf problems with both legs, and while he said it was good to get a day off Sunday to rest in Toronto off Rogers Center’s artificial turf, he probably could have played. With the A’s having games on the next 10 consecutive days “that probably went into their decision,’’ Lowrie said.

–It will be interesting to see if Billy Butler starts Wednesday’s game when the tigers are scheduled to throw Justin Verlander. The DH generally doesn’t start against right-handers and the right-handed Verlander has a long history as an A’s killer. But Butler’s slash line against him is staggering – .405/.468/.536 – with two homers. Butler credits that in part to playing in the AL Central and seeing the Tigers 19 times a year when he was with the Royals.

–Josh Reddick got a new supply of bats, and not a moment too soon. He broke eight bats in his first starts on this road trip.

–Nashville pitcher Dillon Overton was named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week for throwing his first career complete game. They lefty allowed one run in seven innings in the second game of a doubleheader against Colorado Springs on April 20. He allowed five hits but no walks and struck out five.