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Unsurprised Gallego fired; surprised Wash to coach third

Mike Gallego is heading home to Arizona after having been replaced as A's third base coach by Ron Washington.

Mike Gallego is heading home to Arizona after having been replaced as A’s third base coach by Ron Washington.

Mike Gallego said he was prepared for the phone call he got from A’s manager Bob Melvin Monday morning saying that Gallego was no longer Oakland’s third base coach.

He’d been preparing for it at some level since the A’s hiring of Ron Washington as a special infield coach to help shortstop Marcus Semien through an error-plagued first season with Oakland. And with the A’s mired in dead last in the American League West with the worst record in the league, it was only a matter of time.

“I told my family to be ready,’’ Gallego said by phone from Seattle, where he’d flown with the team Sunday night. The A’s start a three-game series with the Mariners Monday night in Safeco Field.

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With Davis on DL, Canha finally has a position of his own

Mark Canha is putting up big numbers now that he has a position to call his own.

Mark Canha is putting up big numbers now that he has a position to call his own.

With first baseman Ike Davis off to the disabled list and facing surgery Thursday that will have him out for the year, the A’s have finally found a job, a full-time job, for Mark Canha.

The Rule 5 infielder got just one start at first base from June 18-Aug. 6, getting work mostly in left field with Coco Crisp out with some time spent in right field and as the DH. He also served as a pinch-hitter.

As Davis’s hip injury got more serious and the A’s began giving him more time in the hope that rest would be a cure, Canha moved in at first. Since Aug. 11, Canha has started 11 consecutive games for Oakland, 10 of them at first base.

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Doubront not looking to repeat six-walk performance; Valencia still hurting, but he says he’s good enough to play

Felix Doubront says his six-walk performance his last time out was out of character. He starts Monday in Seattle.

Felix Doubront says his six-walk performance his last time out was out of character. He starts Monday in Seattle.

Felix Doubront surprised some A’s watchers his last time out, allowing just one hit while walking six last Tuesday against the Dodgers.

The left-handed starting pitcher was as surprised as anyone. He’d only walks six batters all season in 33.1 big league innings, including four starts with Toronto before coming to the A’s, starts in which he’d walked a total of five.

So he says not to expect a repeat performance of what manager Bob Melvin called him being “effectively wild.’’

“I was mad at myself for that; that’s not how I should pitch,’’ he said. “When you do that, you should give up 10 runs.’’

The fact that Doubront allowed just one unearned run not only spoke to “the extra focus I had with men in scoring position,’’ he said, but impressed Melvin enough to make sure he got Monday’s start in Seattle against the Mariners. It doesn’t hurt that he has a career 1.43 ERA against the M’s.

“I made sure when I had those situations with men in scoring position, I made good pitches,’’ he said. “I was mad at myself, but I wasn’t trying to go out there and strike everybody out to get outs. I was more focused than I have been.

“The real issue was when I was pitching from the windup. It was difficult to release the ball right. Before, I was in the bullpen. Coming out of the bullpen, I was throwing out of the stretch, so I was a little rusty in the windup. It was weird for me. I can’t remember the last time I walked six.’’

It was in 2013, back when he was a rising star with the Red Sox, and 11-game winner. That was before his shoulder went south on him. The soreness plagued him, and as his ERA went up, he hit the road, winding up with the Cubs and then the Blue Jays before Oakland got in in a cash deal with Toronto.

“It’s just in the last two months that I’ve been close to 100 percent healthy with my shoulder,’’ he said. “Today I can say I feel 100 percent. That makes a big difference.’’

 

–Danny Valencia, who was held out of Saturday’s game while a right hamstring problem led to him getting an MRI, was back in the lineup Sunday even after the MRI revealed some tendinitis in the area of his right knee.

“I had treatment the whole day yesterday, and I still feel it,’’ Valencia said. “But I don’t think anybody is 100 percent at this time of the year. It’s playable.’’

He said he’d never had problems with his right leg before, but “it’s something that started cropping up in the last seven or eight days.’’

“I try to think about it, but I can’t pinpoint one incident when it happened,’’ he said. “I can say the night game against the Dodgers (last Tuesday) it was really bad.’’

Valencia went 2-for-5 in that game, including getting the single that started an eight-inning game-tying three-run rally.

Since joining the A’s after Toronto let him go in a roster adjustment, Valencia is only hitting .255, but he has a .527 slugging percentage thanks to half of his 14 hits going for extra bases, including three doubles and four homers. That kind of production has been difficult to find in the Oakland lineup this season.

“It’s always nice to have him in the lineup, especially as productive as he’s been for us,’’ Melvin said.

 

NOTES

–Melvin said his plan for Sean Doolittle call for his first game to be in a non-save situation, but he clarified that Sunday morning. While it won’t be a save situation, that doesn’t mean it won’t be a high leverage situation, the manager said.

–Scott Masler, the ball boy down the left field line who wound up on SportsCenter and all over Twitter Saturday night after his diving catch in front of the A’s bullpen, remained something of a minor celebrity Sunday. “It was incredible to see myself on SportsCenter,’’ he said. It’s his job 81 games a year to make sure as best he can that line drives into the bullpen don’t hit anybody. “When I saw that ball headed for the pen, I thought if there was ever a time to try for a dive like that, it was then.’’

–Melvin spent extra time on the field before the game meeting, talking with and shaking the hands of season ticket holders, who were on the field pregame for their annual meet and greet with the players and staff. “They were awesome,’’ Melvin said. “I probably spent more time out there than you anticipate because they are so supportive, and you want to give each and every person some time. I’m extremely honored to manage this team for these people.’’

 

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Burns’ defensive prowess gets fans, Sonny Gray fired up

Billy Burns has been more than just an offensive player as a rookie for A's this season.

Billy Burns has been more than just an offensive player as a rookie for A’s this season.

The A’s never thought Billy Burns would be their center fielder this year. That was going to be a combination of Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld.

Burns? He was thought to be a year away.

Injuries and slumps led to Burns getting a chance to play. He’s grabbed in and never given it back.

Mostly he’s been recognized for his offense. He leads big league rookies in steals with 24 and in multiple-hit games with 34. He leads American League rookies in hits with 114 and total bases with 147.

Every once in a while, he shows what he can do on defense, and Saturday was one of those nights. With Sonny Gray trying to hold down a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning, the Rays’ Logan Forsythe hit a screamer into the alley in left-center.

He seemed to have a double or a triple, but Burns took off in a dead sprint, launched his body in a horizontal leap, caught the ball about 2½ feet off the ground, then landed with a dignified thud as an appreciative capacity Coliseum crowd erupted.

Gray was appreciative, too, nodding to the rookie who has settled in both at the top of the lineup and in the middle of the outfield.

“Off the bat, I wasn’t really sure, but eventually I knew I had the track on it,’’ Burns said. “Eventually I got to the point where I was going to try and make a leap, so I went for it.’’

From his view on the mound, Gray was awe-struck.

“It was awesome. It was crazy,’’ Gray said. “When he hit it, he hit it really, really hard. I thought he might have a chance on it only by laying out. I had a really good view of it. He definitely had full extension.’’

The fans were unstinting in their appreciation, and for that, Burns was himself appreciative.

“It’s just a warm feeling when the fans support you,’’ he said. “And it’s always nice to help your pitcher out. Sonny gave me a head nod. That was nice.’’

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Doolittle comes back, but will he be the closer right away? Valencia scratched with right hamstring problem, has MRI

Sean Doolittle is back in the A's bullpen, and he figures to be closing before too much longer.

Sean Doolittle is back in the A’s bullpen, and he figures to be closing before too much longer.

Sean Doolittle will be the A’s closer again.

The only question after he was activated from the disabled list Saturday is whether or not his first game will see him pitching in the ninth inning with a lead.

Doolittle and A’s manager Bob Melvin were going to meet after the A’s pregame workout Saturday to discuss the possibilities, but it’s clear that Melvin wants the left-hander to close, and the sooner the better. Doolittle wants to close, too, but is willing to work his way up the line of succession, if that’s what it takes.

“Whether we put him right in there or give him a lesser role to start, we’ll see,’’ Melvin said. “(Closing) is what he does. We want him to feel good about what he’s doing. And we want to get him through the rest of the season healthy and pitching effectively.’’

Doolittle sees himself closing, but if it doesn’t happen immediately, he says he’s OK with that. It’s all part of the process back from should problems that have limited him to one game this season.

He says he wants more than anything to put himself “on the short list to be the closer next year’’ with the A’s in last place and trying simply to not finish with the worst record in the American League.

“I’ve missed this so much, and I’ve worked so hard to get back,’’ he said. “I went through all the necessary steps that I would have in spring training. Now I can come in here for the last month and a half of the season and pitch well and set me up in good position for next year, put my name in the had to be the closer next year.’’

Mare that even that, however, is simply getting on the mound in whatever role, knowing that he arm is sound and that there shouldn’t be any holdover physical problems heading into 2016.

“That’s probably the biggest thing,’’ he said. “If I had to go into the winter without knowing where I was at from the stand point of my stuff, where it’s at, not really knowing if that all that work paid off. Now we’ll have a better handle on it, having something to show for it.

“It gives you a different look when you spend a season watching from the bench or from your couch when the team is on the road and your spot comes up and you’re not able to contribute. It puts it in perspective how really special this opportunity is to put on this uniform and how much you have to appreciate it and not take it for granted.

`It feels really, really good to be back.’’

 

–Third baseman Danny Valencia was in the original starting lineup, but right knee pain led to him being scratched and he underwent an MRI to determine the extent of the problem. He’s unlikely to play in Sunday’s series finale.

As a result, Stephen Vogt went from behind the plate and took Valencia’s spot as the designated hitter and Josh Phegley stepped in as the catcher, getting a relative rare start against right-handed pitching.

“Danny was in there, but he’s got a little bit of a lower hamstring, back of the knee soreness,’’ Melvin said. “We took Danny out. We want to make sure he’s not going out there injured.

“The doctor will take a look at the MRI tomorrow, and we’ll have an idea of how many more days he’s going to miss.’’

 

NOTES

–To make room on the roster for Doolittle, right-hander Dan Otero was optioned to Triple-A Nashville. At the same time, first baseman Ike Davis was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster for Doolittle.

–Melvin said that Pat Venditte was carving out a nice role for himself this year and putting himself strongly in the running to be a major player in the A’s bullpen come 2016. The switch-throwing reliever got four outs Friday, including pitching out of a bases-loaded jam. He’s done two things exceptionally well, stranding all six runners he’s inherited and having the first hitters he’s faced go 0-for-7 with a walk against him. “We’ve used him in important roles, and he’s making a case for himself,’’ Melvin said. “He’s making a case to be a significant part of the bullpen next year.’’

–Rookie Mark Canha got just his second start as the A’s cleanup hitter. He’s getting bigger roles as he continues to hit, including 9-for-16 in his last four games, and a longer streak that includes one homer, four doubles and six RBI in his last 10 games. He has 41 RBI for the year, tied for first among all AL rookies.

–With Friday’s 2-1 loss to Tampa, Oakland is 14-28 in one-games. That matches the biggest total of one-run losses for any A’s team in the last 29 years, the 2014 also losing 28 one-runners. They haven’t lost more one-run games since 1986, when Oakland was 22-29 in that category.

–The A’s came into Saturday having allowed homers in 15 consecutive games, tying an Oakland record. They had done it Aug. 6-121, 1987. Curiously the 110 homers allowed by Oakland this year is the third-lowest total in the American League.

–Coco Crisp came into Saturday with three consecutive multiple-hit games, going 8-for-14, .571, after going 7-for-73, .096 in his first 22 games.

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For some reason, A’s hitters can’t go to bat for Bassitt

Chris Bassitt turned in another good start, but lack of support Friday leaves his with his fifth loss.

Chris Bassitt turned in another good start, but lack of support Friday leaves his with his fifth loss.

Look at Chris Bassitt’s 1-5 record and you’d think he was just another rookie stumbling to get his bearings his first months around the big boys.

Look at Bassitt’s ERA, 2.31, and you might think again. He’s unlucky, not floundering.

Again Friday the right-hander gave the A’s a strong start, 6.2 innings in which he allowed just one run. That was one more run than Oakland scored while he was in the game, and he wound up being saddled with yet another loss he didn’t deserve.

Three times in nine starts he’s allowed just one run, and he’s 0-2 in those games. Three times in nine starts he’s allowed exactly two runs. He’s 0-2 in those games, too.

Bassitt hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any start, and the only game he’s won is a game when he threw seven scoreless innings against the Orioles and the Oakland genie came out of the bottle with five runs.

A’s catcher Josh Phegley all but winces when he talks about how poorly the A’s have supported the right-handed Bassitt in his starts.

“That’s the story of the year,’’ Phegley said. “It seems like when we do get pitching performances like that it seem like we can’t come through for him offensively. It’s been a grind on both sides of the ball all year long.’’

Bassitt is tired in the extreme of talking about how well he’s pitched in a loss. He’s all about winning, and he’d be more than happy to give up five runs if the A’s would score six. The one thing he is proudest of is that he isn’t trying to over-think his job, something that fellow starters Sonny Gray and Jesse Chavez have talked about with him.

Both of them have more than a little experience in pitching well while the offense snoozes.

“Thankfully Sonny is here and Chavvy is here,’’ he said. “They’ve really taught me a lot, just runs are going to happen. In the past, it would have been completely different where the offense wasn’t going and I was going to try to do a lot more, try to hold them to zero and wound up giving up four or five.

“Then I’d walk away even more mad than I already am. So I’m thankful for Chavvy and Sonny being there and supporting me.’’

The one run the Rays got off Bassitt was entirely his doing, although it was far from clean.

He hit Logan Forsythe with a pitch, threw a wild pitch, then gave up a single to Desmond Jennings. It happened in the second inning, and Bassitt had to pitch from behind the rest of his night.

“Tonight was aggravating in general, because nothing that I was throwing was going where I wanted it to go,’’ Bassitt said. “I was just extremely wild, effectively at some point, but that’s not what I want.

“In the bullpen I felt way too good. In the first two innings I felt way too good. That sounds kind of stupid to say you feel way too good, but it’s true. I pretty much had to bag my curveball because it was not there at all. My slider was kind of there, my fastball was kind of there. I was just trying to throw everything down the middle and hopefully they didn’t hit it.’’

Bassitt loaded the bases on two singles and a walk in the fifth, but after a visit from pitching coach Curt Young, the rookie induced a first-pitch double-play grounder from ex-A’s catcher John Jaso. Two innings later, a walk, a two-out double and a hit batter loaded the bases again. This time it was manager Bob Melvin coming out. He brought in Pat Venditte, and the switch-pitcher got a pop fly to keep it a one-run game at 1-0.

Bassitt was thoroughly grateful.

“He saved me,’’ Bassitt said of Venditte. “He gave our team a chance. He’s been great for us all year. Down in Nashville, up here, I’ve played with him in all the places, and he’s been outstanding.’’

So, too, has Bassitt been.

He just doesn’t have much to show for it.

“He was great again,’’ Melvin said of Bassitt, and not for the first time. “He didn’t have his best breaking pitches, but had a great fastball.’’

Just not much support.

 

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Davis’s season over with lip hip surgery due Thursday

Ike Davis will undergo surgery on a torn labrum in his left hip Thursday and won't be playing again this season for the A's.

Ike Davis will undergo surgery on a torn labrum in his left hip Thursday and won’t be playing again this season for the A’s.

A’s first baseman Ike Davis’s season is over thanks to a labrum tear in his left hip that will require surgery Thursday in Colorado.

Manager Bob Melvin said the results of the MRI Davis underwent Wednesday showed that Davis wasn’t healthy enough to keep on playing. The A’s had cut down his workload in recent weeks in the hopes he’d be able to stay on the field, but that didn’t work.

It’s been an injury-plagued year for Davis, who missed part of the spring with back problems and then spent over a month on the disabled list in May and June with quad problems. The first baseman said Wednesday he believed both those injuries were related to the hip problem, which has dogged him for several years.

“We took a while to get him back (from the quad injury),’’ Melvin said. “I thought once we got him back, he was over that hurdle. I guess it got progressively worse, and he wasn’t saying a whole lot about it.

“Recently, the last couple weeks, it got to where he wasn’t comfortable either swinging or running. It came to a head then, but it just wasn’t getting any better, and the MRI revealed he needed to have surgery.’’

Davis, a potential power bat who had 32 homers as recently as 2012, had just three homers for the A’s this year to go with 20 RBI and a .229 average. He had lost some bad speed this season as the hip injury got progressively worse, and his return to the A’s in 2016 is problematic.

 

–Closer Sean Doolittle could be back in the next couple of days after Thursday’s rehab performance for Triple-A Nashville., one inning in which he struck out the side.

The left-hander, who probably be eased back in as closer once he returns, missed the first couple of months of the season with a strained left rotator cuff, pitched in one game, then went back on the disabled list three days later with a left shoulder strain.

He’s made six appearances on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Nashville, giving up three hits and two runs while striking out 13. Melvin said he talked to Doolittle Friday and the conversation was mostly about the four pitches Doolittle threw Thursday that weren’t strikes.

“He feels great; we’ll probably see him here real soon,’’ Melvin said, adding that the radar gun clocking Doolittle’s fastball was at 92 or 93 mph, depending on the reading.

Asked about another rehab game or if he’d just be activated, Melvin said “we’ll see,’’ adding that the left-hander was still in Nashville Friday night.

“Currently,’’ Melvin said. “He’s currently there.’’

 

–Right-handed starter Kendall Graveman normally would have been down to pitch Saturday, but he’s being held back to Sunday so that ace Sonny Gray can pitch on his regular fifth day.

Graveman said he’s been scouring video to get to the heart of his recent troubles, and said that the extra day will be a help in that regard. After beginning the season 6-4 with a 3.16 ERA through July 4, he has a seven-game stretch in which he is 0-5 with a 6.89 ERA, leaving him at 6-9 and 4.27.

“When I’m going well, I don’t look at video that much,’’ Graveman said. “I do when things start not going my way. I’m trying to evaluate mechanics and my pitch selection.’’

He said that late-season fatigue, common in pitchers in their first full big league season, isn’t an issue.

“My body is feeling pretty good now,’’ he said. “I hit a patch there for a while where I wasn’t feeling good, but lately I’ve been better.’’

 

NOTES

–The altercation involving a group of fans in Section 112 of the Coliseum Tuesday night in the first game of the two-game Dodgers series resulted in about half a dozen ejections, A’s director of stadium operations David Rinetti said Friday. He said he didn’t know of any arrests from the biggest fan uprising of the Coliseum season.

–Left fielder Coco Crisp (ankle, neck) and second baseman Brett Lawrie were back in the lineup Friday after both had missed the previous three games. Melvin said the return was fortuitous because he wants to use both against left-handed pitching – the Rays started lefty Drew Smyly Friday – and “we’re going to face quite a few left-handed pitchers coming up.’’

–The A’s and the rest of the American League West are down to face American League Central teams in interleague play. For Oakland, that means road trips to St. Louis and Milwaukee. The actual schedule has not been released.

–Friday was the return of John Jaso, who was part of the A’s three-man catching platoon of the last two years along with Derek Norris and Stephen Vogt. Jaso is wearing dreadlocks now which, Melvin said, was “not a surprise.’’ Concussion problems mean he’s no longer a catcher, getting an occasional start in the outfield but serving mostly as the DH. Jaso said he misses catching, “but my legs feel a lot fresher now than they would have if I was still behind the plate.’’  He’s had hamate injury problems that have limited him to 37 games and a .309 average.

–Melvin said the at-bats the club has seen from Mark Canha “are as good as we’ve seen from him all year, and that’s including a stretch earlier in the season when he was doing really well and hitting some balls out of the ballpark.’’ He’s playing even against right-handed pitching because he’s hit right-handers, including a .289 average and off of his nine homers. Canha came into Friday with eight hits in his last three games.

–Tyler Ladendorf was activated off the disabled list Friday after missing four months with a fractured ankle and optioned to Triple-A Nashville. He’s likely to be called up when the roster expands in September and the infielder probably would have spent much of the season with the A’s were it not for the injury, “especially with his versatility,’’ Melvin said.

–Melvin said disabled starting pitcher Jarrod Parker is “on the verge’’ of playing catch after his comeback from a second Tommy John surgery was delayed when he suffered a fracture of the medial epicondyle. Even so, he’s a longshot to pitch for the A’s this season.

 

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Pomeranz could be A’s next candidate to close

Drew Pomeranz closed for the A's Wednesday and he could be seen in that role again.

Drew Pomeranz closed for the A’s Wednesday and he could be seen in that role again.

The A’s have spent the last couple of years trying to see if Drew Pomeranz was a fit in their rotation.

They may spend the final seven weeks of the season seeing if he has what it takes to close.

Pomeranz picked up his second save in three tries Wednesday by throwing a perfect ninth inning to preserve Jesse Chavez’s 5-2 over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Asked if Pomeranz was going to be his closer, A’s manager Bob Melvin said only “he was today.’’

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Davis lands on DL after lengthy battle with left hip pain

Ike Davis's bad left hip won't allow him to make plays like this. He went on the DL Wednesday.

Ike Davis’s bad left hip won’t allow him to make plays like this. He went on the DL Wednesday.

Ike Davis went on the disabled list Wednesday after spending much of the last two months with his left hip in ever-increasing pain.

Davis had an MRI on the hit Wednesday morning, and while the A’s were waiting for the results, they and the first baseman decided he needed to be shut down for at least a couple of weeks.

The move to disable Davis, which saw outfielder Jake Smolinski recalled from Triple-A Nashville, leaves his immediate future up in the air.

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Canha earns a career highlight with two hits off Kershaw

Mark Canha celebrates after his double to lead of 10th vs. Dodgers. He would score winning run moments later on Billy Butler's double.

Mark Canha celebrates after his double to lead of 10th vs. Dodgers. He would score winning run moments later on Billy Butler’s double.

Mark Canha’s season wasn’t supposed to go like this.

The A’s thought his right-handed power would be a good fit against left-handed pitching, but before Tuesday night he was hitting just .156 against lefties.

The Rule 5 pickup was earning his keep against right-handers, however, with a .279 average and all nine of his homers.

So it was something of a turnaround, if not outright surprise, to see Canha single twice in three at-bats against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, widely regarded as the best left-handed starting pitcher in the game.

Kershaw has three Cy Young Awards, and while he didn’t get a win Tuesday, he looked every bit the part of the dominator he’s supposed to be.

For Canha, those two hits already are career highlights, even though his career is likely to last for many more years.

“It’s definitely the most memorable game we’ve played, for me,’’ Canha said. “It was awesome.

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