The mystery of Fernando Abad continues to deepen

Fernando Abad doesn't know why he's being hit so hard, and the A's don't know, either.

Fernando Abad doesn’t know why he’s being hit so hard, and the A’s don’t know, either.

For the longest time, going to Fernando Abad was nothing but A-Good for the A’s.

Not so much lately, though.

Abad, asked to keep a 3-2 game close, instead gave up a two-run homer and a solo shot in the eighth inning. That put the A’s in a 6-2 hole and meant that the two runs Oakland scored in the ninth were just window dressing.

The numbers on Abad this year are grim. He has a 7.36 ERA, his WHIP is 1.636 and he’s allowed four homers in 11 innings. For his first season in Oakland last year, his ERA was 1.57, his WHIP was 0.855 and he’d allowed just four homers in 57.1 innings.

What’s worse, with Sean Doolittle and Eric O’Flaherty on the disabled list, he’s the only lefty in the bullpen. Small wonder that there are voices calling for the promotion of switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, even though his 1.75 ERA is somewhat tarnished by the 12 walks he’s allowed in 25.2 innings with Triple-A Nashville.

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A’s get good news on Jarrod Parker; no third Tommy John

Jarrod Parker will not need a third Tommy John surgery after his fractured elbow was treated by Dr. James Andrews Tuesday.

Jarrod Parker will not need a third Tommy John surgery after his fractured elbow was treated by Dr. James Andrews Tuesday.

The surgery on starting pitcher Jarrod Parker’s right elbow went about as well as the A’s could have hoped Tuesday.

Dr. James Andrews was able to mend the medial epicondyle fracture that had shut down Parker during his injury rehabilitation assignment earlier in the month.

More than that, the replacement of Parker’s ulnar collateral ligament in a 2014 Tommy John surgery, had not been impacted by the fracture, so fears of the need for a third Tommy John surgery were put to rest.

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Return of neck pain puts an early end to Crisp’s night in Houston

Coco Crisp left Tuesday's game with a neck injury after 3 1/2 innings.

Coco Crisp left Tuesday’s game with a neck injury after 3 1/2 innings.

A’s left fielder Coco Crisp left Tuesday’s game against the Astros in Houston after four 3½ innings with neck pain.

Crisp was limited to 126 games last year mostly because of run-ins with outfield walls. He didn’t have a repeat of wall collisions Tuesday in Minute Maid Park, but he landed hard in the second inning in a diving pursuit of a double hit by Houston’s Colby Rasmus.

The left fielder began the year on the disabled list thanks to spring training elbow surgery and wasn’t reinstated to the active roster until May 6. Since then he’s made multiple outstanding defensive plays, but he’s been in search of some offense.

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Pomeranz’s shoulder issues could send him to the DL

Drew Pomeranz came up with shoulder pain Monday night that may have him targeted for the A's disabled list.

Drew Pomeranz came up with shoulder pain Monday night that may have him targeted for the A’s disabled list.

The A’s are preparing themselves for the possibility of starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz going onto the disabled list later this week.

Pomeranz came out of Monday’s start against the Astros after 4.1 innings because of left shoulder tightness, a problem the left-hander described as a problematic AC joint in the shoulder that he’s had for some time now.

When the A’s leave for Tampa Bay following Wednesday’s game, Pomeranz will be headed back to the Bay Area to have his shoulder checked out, even though Pomeranz said he felt “just normal soreness’’ when he woke up Tuesday.

“We’re going to have him looked at,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ll probably make a decision on where we are tomorrow. Obviously there’s a chance he will go on the DL.

“This is something that’s been going on for a while, and we don’t want it to continue to go on, but we haven’t made a definitive decision.’’

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Pomeranz optimistic he won’t miss time with shoulder pain

Drew Pomeranz had a recurrence of pain in his left AC joint in his shoulder. He may know Tuesday if he'll need to miss a start.

Drew Pomeranz had a recurrence of pain in his left AC joint in his shoulder. He may know Tuesday if he’ll need to miss a start.

Drew Pomeranz has been down this road before.

So while he’s concerned that pain in the AC joint of his left shoulder forced him out of Monday’s start in the fifth inning, he’s somewhat comfortable that he won’t miss a start because of the problem.

He walked five in 4.1 innings, a total he’d reached just once in seven previous starts, so that was a matter of concern. When he issued back-to-back walks in the fifth inning with one out, then went to a 2-1 count on cleanup hitter Evan Gattis, manager Bob Melvin came out and brought with him trainer Walt Horn.

They listened to Pomeranz describe what he was feeling, and Horn escorted Pomeranz off the field while Melvin waited to turn the ball over to Edward Mujica.

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Semien strikes Gallego as being tough mentally on errors

Marcus Semien gets high marks from A's infield coach Mike Gallego for the way he's handled his error problems.

Marcus Semien gets high marks from A’s infield coach Mike Gallego for the way he’s handled his error problems.

There is some good news about Marcus Semien’s defensive work this season. Really.

Mike Gallego, the A’s third base coach, handles the club’s infielders, and while Semien now has a league-worst 14 errors after one was reinstated on him Monday, Gallego is happy with the way Semien has handled himself through it all.

“A streak like this could break players; it’s happened,’’ Gallego said. “But you look at Marcus and it seems that he’s taking it in stride.

“If he makes one, he doesn’t dwell on it, and he’s out there every day during workouts, always wanting one more grounder to be hit at him.’’

It’s not like this kind of error explosion has never happened before. Not all players handle it the same. After finally arriving in the big leagues with the A’s in 1998, Miguel Tejada made 26 errors in 104 games, a total that would get him to 40 parsed out over a full season.

Semien’s total would get him to 58, but the A’s keep expecting him to settle in defensively and keep the errors to a relative minimum rather than the seven in his last eight games, a pace that A’s fans find extremely troubling.

“There are guys whose defense can get into their head and they can be broken,’’ Gallego said referring to Chuck Knoblauch and Steve Sax, both of whom has their careers cut short by their inability to throw from second base. “I don’t see that with Marcus. I think he’s going to be a good one.’’

Manager Bob Melvin remains clearly in Semien’s corner. Melvin has started him in all but one of the A’s first 39 games, and he was the starter for No. 40 Monday in Houston. Asked if he would use second baseman Ben Zobrist, expected to be back with the club next week, at shortstop some to spell Semien, Melvin said he didn’t see things playing out that way.

“At this point it’s difficult to do, because we’d be playing somebody out of position every time we wanted to give Marcus a day off. I’m not 100 percent sure, but if we give Marcus a day off, it probably would be (Eric Sogard) at shortstop and Zobrist at second.’’

Getting Zobrist back would allow for more days off for Semien because the A’s don’t have great depth at shortstop without their second baseman and Zobrist came up as a shortstop.


Beane not ready to do whole sale reworking of roster

Billy Beane says the A's need to stay the course for now.

Billy Beane says the A’s need to stay the course for now.

The A’s have gone down the rabbit hole since the last time Billy Beane addressed Oakland’s poor start to the season.

Much has changed on the field. The A’s are 1-8 since the last time Beane took an in-depth look at the team with this newspaper. Five of the eight losses have been by one run. They have extended their streak of games in which they’ve committed an error from five games to 14.

For the general manager, however, not much has changed. Talking before boarding a flight to watch the SEC baseball tournament this week in Birmingham, Ala., Beane said the team continues to need to ride out the rough stretch that has seen Oakland own the worst record in the Major Leagues at 13-26.

In falling 12½ games behind Houston in the American League West entering a three-game set with the Astros beginning tonight, Oakland has been in fifth place in the West for 10 consecutive days with no suggestion that will end anytime soon.
Getting away from the numbers, Beane cited big injuries and bad luck as part of the issue for Oakland.

“Obviously, all this is disappointing, but given the amount of players we have on the disabled list, that’s a problem,’’ Beane said. “With the guys we have on the field, there are things that could go better; it’s part of the process.

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Seventh inning nightmares just don’t quit for A’s

Fernando Abad is tasked with getting out left-handed hitters, but they're hitting .375 against him this year.

Fernando Abad is tasked with getting out left-handed hitters, but they’re hitting .375 against him this year.

It should perhaps come as no surprise that the A’s gave up five runs in the seventh inning Friday, going from a 6-2 lead to a 7-6 deficit that would stand as the final score in another one-run loss, this to the Chicago White Sox.

After all, Oakland has allowed 35 runs in the seventh inning of the 37 games the A’s have played, the worst seventh-inning performance by any team in the big leagues.

But it didn’t have to happen.

First, the grounder bobbled by Brett Lawrie for the A’s 37th error of the season – another Major League high – was a play that should have been made.

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Clippard uses day off Thursday to master Pebble Beach; A’s closer shoots a 72 to cross historic course off bucket list

Tyler Clippard used his off-day Thursday to shoot a 72 at Pebble Beach

Tyler Clippard used his off-day Thursday to shoot a 72 at Pebble Beach

Pro golf may have missed a good thing when Tyler Clippard opted for baseball as a career.

Clippard, who has been playing golf “since I was 9,’’ used Thursday’s day off to head toward Monterey to give Pebble Beach a test. He shot an even-par 72, not bad for someone who basically just walked in off the street to one of the world’s great golf courses.

“I always thought about being a golfer,’’ Clippard said. “In high school, I only played baseball for a year and a half. I played golf all four years.’’

So what happened? Clippard was 5-foot-7 as a sophomore, but was 6-foot-1 as a junior, and his fastball got exponentially better as part of his growth spurt. His fastball accelerated as he grew, and Clippard, now 6-foot-3, has a 1.69 ERA while working as the A’s closer while waiting for Sean Doolittle to come off the disabled list.

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Samardzija happy to be with White Sox, but a little disappointed A’s didn’t keep roster together for 2015

Jeff Samardzija says A's would have been a force in 2015 if the team had been held together.

Jeff Samardzija says A’s would have been a force in 2015 if the team had been held together.

Jeff Samardzija came back to the Coliseum as a member of the Chicago White Sox Friday, his first visit since the 2014 season ended with Samardzija due to pitch Game 1 of the American League Division Series for the A’s, a game that never happened.

With Oakland holding a 7-3 lead in the eighth inning and an 8-7 lead in the 12th inning in Kansas City, the A’s couldn’t hold off the Royals in the Wild Card game. That ended Oakland’s season.

And if you think injuries are costing the A’s now, Samardzija said losing catcher Geovany Soto, now a teammate with the White Sox, in the second inning and center fielder Coco Crisp late in the game cost the A’s a trip to the World Series.

“If we win that game, there’s no doubt in my mind we’re going to the Series,’’ Samardzija said. “The momentum going to the winner of that game was something else.’’

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