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Early returns on Danny Valencia continue to be positive

Danny Valencia is impressing the A's already. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Danny Valencia is impressing the A’s already. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

OAKLAND — The A’s are building for next year and beyond, so self-scouting is a big part of that.

Danny Valencia is a player Oakland wants to learn more about and the early returns continue to be positive after he knocked in two first-inning runs in the A’s 2-1 win Saturday over the Houston Astros.

“He’s been great,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Valencia. “Knocking in runs and that’s what you want guys in the middle of the order to do. We want to give him some opportunities here against righties and we gave him a big one today and he came through for us.”

Valencia’s solo home on Friday night proved to be the winning run and his two-run double in the first inning Saturday had the same effect as the A’s (50-62) won their second straight against the first-place Astros. Continue Reading

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Burns is sore, but feeling better; Doolittle throws off flat ground, bullpen scheduled for Thursday

Billy Burns is feeling better Saturday morning after fouling a ball off himself Friday night.  (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Billy Burns is feeling better Saturday morning after fouling a ball off himself Friday night. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

SAN FRANCISCO — A’s outfielder Billy Burns said he feels better Saturday than he did the night before but he’s out of the starting lineup for the second game of this series with the Giants.

“I told the trainer I think I can play today, but he thinks it’s best if I rest,” Burns said. “I can still feel a little soreness but it’s a lot less pain than last night, so I think I’m good to go.”

Burns’ cringe-worthy injury was termed a testicular contusion and the rookie said it won’t cause to him to change his mind and begin wearing a cup.

A’s manager Bob Melvin won’t force him or any of his players to do so either. Continue Reading

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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

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Vogt out after cortisone shot, Venditte could be throwing by end of the week

Stephen Vogt is out of the lineup Tuesday after getting a cortisone shot in his left elbow. ( (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Stephen Vogt is out of the lineup Tuesday after getting a cortisone shot in his left elbow. ( (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

A’s catcher Stephen Vogt had a cortisone shot in his left elbow and is not in the lineup Tuesday for the opener of a brief three-game road trip to Texas.

Vogt had the cortisone shot on Sunday to relieve what was diagnosed as “tennis elbow” and manager Bob Melvin expects him to be in the lineup Wednesday night against the Rangers. His availability to pinch-hit Tuesday will be determined based on how Vogt feels once the game is underway.

“He’s been dealing with it,” Melvin said of the elbow. “I think once he gets into the batter’s box, he doesn’t think too much about it. Yet, there’s some days that it’s worse than others. Some swings are worse than others.” Continue Reading

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Ron Washington returns to Texas, tells Rangers fans “I love them”

IMG_5758ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Ron Washington was greeted everywhere he went Tuesday when he returned to the stadium where he managed for eight years.

“I parked in the parking lot upstairs and the fans greeted me coming in, then the security guards and all the guys riding around through the tunnel on the carts,” Washington said, “and then I finally made it to the clubhouse.”

Cameras followed Washington as he worked with infielders early before Tuesday’s A’s game with the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park. It’s the first time Washington, now an A’s coach, has been back at his former home stadium since resigning in September 2014 citing personal issues that he later revealed involved infidelity. Continue Reading

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Billy Bean, MLB Ambassador for Inclusion, praises A’s Pride Night

IMG_5578OAKLAND — Billy Bean proudly placed a rainbow colored A’s button on his jacket lapel as he stood on the dugout steps at O.co Coliseum on Wednesday.

Now Major League Baseball’s Ambassador for Inclusion, Bean is one of two players in baseball history to have come out as gay after his playing career (joining former A’s outfielder Glenn Burke) and was an invited guest for the A’s Pride Night against the San Diego Padres.

Burke’s brother, Sidney Burke, is throwing out the first pitch and transgender opera singer Breanna Sinclaire is signing the national anthem. According to Out Magazine, Sinclaire is the first transgender woman to sing the anthem at a professional sporting event.

“I’ll tell you as a player if I had seen that, I would’ve passed out,” Bean said. “Today is a perfect win for this organization and baseball.” Continue Reading

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Sean Doolittle is back on the disabled list

Sean Doolittle is already back on the disabled list.

Sean Doolittle is already back on the disabled list.

OAKLAND — A “frustrated” Sean Doolittle will have to endure at least two more weeks of inactivity after new pain in his left shoulder led to his return to the disabled list Saturday.

Doolittle was activated from the D.L. on Tuesday after missing the first 48 games with a strained rotator cuff, but he experienced significant pain late Wednesday night after making the only appearance of his return.

“I felt good while I was throwing, I felt good after I was throwing and then that night, the shoulder was pretty painful in a slightly different area than before,” Doolittle said. “We tried to let it calm down on Thursday and then came in yesterday and it was feeling slightly better. I was able to get through all my warm-up stuff, but when I went out to tthrow, it wasn’t right, it was too painful.” Continue Reading

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A’s G.M. Billy Beane has “no idea what Dallas is talking about”

A's general manager Billy Beane said he has no idea what Dallas Braden is talking about when he says the A's had an "application station" to teach minor leaguers how to doctor balls during spring training.

A’s general manager Billy Beane said he has no idea what Dallas Braden is talking about when he says the A’s had an “application station” to teach minor leaguers how to doctor balls during spring training.

OAKLAND — A’s general manager Billy Beane doesn’t seem to be buying into former pitcher Dallas Braden’s claim of widespread doctoring of baseballs during his time with Oakland.

“I didn’t see the quote, but I have no idea what Dallas is talking about,” Beane said a day after Braden detailed his method of doctoring balls on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight.”

“We would have camp and in spring training, we would have different stations where you’re learning,” Braden said. “You’ve got your horn series signs, pickoffs, bunt defense, run down responsibilities.

“And then we had a little station that was the application station. And here, gentlemen, we’re going to learn how to gain an advantage or at least put ourselves in a little bit better position to gain control.” Continue Reading

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Doolittle excited to get his season started, even if it’s not as the closer right away

Sean Doolittle was activated on Tuesday and is set to make his 2015 debut.

Sean Doolittle was activated on Tuesday and is set to make his 2015 debut.

OAKLAND — A’s All-Star closer Sean Doolittle is back on the active roster and thrilled to be back, even if it won’t be as the closer initially.

“That’s the furthest thing from my mind,” Doolittle said of resuming closer duties. “I’m just excited to be back. I’ve told (Bob Melvin), however he wants to use me, I’ll be ready. I’m not even thinking about roles. I’ll just be ready when the phone rings. Hopefully I pitch well to get back in that conversation.”

Melvin, the A’s manager, said Tyler Clippard will hold onto the closer job for now and his hope is to work Doolittle slowly back into the mix. Ultimately, the games will dictate whether that’s realistic.

“Sometimes you get caught where you can’t help but use him in a big situation,” Melvin said. “You’d like to be able to ease him into a game. Throw an inning before you put him into a seventh or eighth inning with a couple guys on, but you never know how it’s going to play out.” Continue Reading