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Henderson Alvarez, Andrew Triggs both done for the season as Oakland’s starting rotation continues to take injury hits

Henderson Alvarez, who had hoped to pitch the final two-thirds of the season with Oakland, has been shut down for the year because of ongoing shoulder pain.

Henderson Alvarez, who had hoped to pitch the final two-thirds of the season with Oakland, has been shut down for the year because of ongoing shoulder pain.

After six months of hoping that Henderson Alvarez would  be able to join their starting rotation, the a’s have given up for this year with Alvarez’s right shoulder continuing to give him trouble.

Manager Bob Melvin said Alvarez, who pitched three innings on an injury rehabilitation assignment last week, continues to feel discomfort. He will leave the team sometime this week and will visit Dr. James Andrews, the orthopedist who performed the original surgery on Alvarez’s right shoulder in July, 2015.

At the same time, the A’s say that Andrew Triggs, the reliever-turned-starter who came out of his last start after one inning after back trouble, won’t be pitching again this season.

“Henderson is having a tough time again with his shoulder,’’ Melvin said. “He’ won’t probably pitch this year, and he’s going to see Dr. Andrews again. Unfortunately he’s hit another hurdle and I really feel bad for him. This is a guy who has worked so hard to get back with us. He’s been right on the cusp a couple of different times, then has had to go back on the rehab cycle, which is very difficult to do.

“My heart goes out for him. Hopefully we get this thing settled, whether it’s another surgery we’re not sure. But this is an issue that has been with him all year. This is a great kid who loves to pitch. Always has a smile on his face.’’

Alvarez was twice one injury rehab start away from joining the A’s rotation. The first time was in June and then again about a month later he was close again. Melvin said he was guessing, but Alvarez might never have been right after that first time he was shut down.

The A’s have had Alvarez, who signed last winter as a free agent with the A’s willing to take a gamble on a right-hander who was a 2014 National League All-Star, undergo a series of MRIs since June in an effort to locate the problem. None so far has been able to do so, which is why Melvin said another surgery might be necessary.

“Dr. Andrews will make that decision,’’ Melvin said.

As for Triggs, who had hopped the back pain was just a minor setback, he hasn’t even been allowed to begin strengthening exercises. He came out of a Sept. 2 start after one inning and had he remained healthy, his next start would have come up Wednesday.

“I doubt he will pitch again this year,’’ Melvin said. “We don’t have a schedule for him to throw yet.’’

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Ryan Dull benefits from some time off, as do the A’s

Ryan Dull, here paired with catcher Stepohen Vogt, was sharp Sunday after getting almost a week off.

Ryan Dull, here paired with catcher Stepohen Vogt, was sharp Sunday after getting almost a week off.

Ryan Dull, as much as anyone, has been the backbone of the A’s bullpen this year.

The rookie reliever hasn’t gone on the disabled list, ranks in the top 10 in the American League in games pitched, has a 2.32 ERA, has allowed just 14 percent of inherited runners to score and hitters are averaging just .078 against him with runners in scoring position.

Dull was, however, a non-factor in the A’s bullpen in the last week until Sunday, when he reappeared to throw 1.2 scoreless innings in helping the A’s beat the Red Sox 1-0.

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Marcus Semien balances fatherhood and playing ball

 

Marcus Semien misses newborn son Isaiah, born on Monday

Marcus Semien misses newborn son Isaiah, born on Monday

Marcus Semien plays with single mindedness of purpose, one of the characteristics the A’s most like about their shortstop.

Things have been a little different for him this week, though. He rejoined the team Friday in St. Louis after missing a three-game series against the Indians to be with his wife, Tarah, at the birth of their first child, son Isaiah.

Like many first-time fathers, he’s torn between being with his family and being with his team.

“Just about any time I’m not at the park I’m on FaceTime with them,’’ Semien said Monday. “It sucks to miss this time of his life.

“It’s been four days already, and I’ve missed a high percentage of his time.’’

That time away is something many players go through, and Semien, who hadn’t missed a game all year for Oakland before taking three days and eventually going on paternity leave, is learning that the hard way.

The A’s will be home Wednesday night and start a 10-game homestand, so there will be some time for caching up.

“I spent the first couple of nights in the hospital with them,’’ Semien said. “I miss that.’’

 

–No part of the A’s has been more in flux than the starting rotation, and with the rosters eligible to expand from 25 players to 40 beginning this weekend, the rotation roulette may not yet be over.

Manager Bob Melvin said no decision has been made on what to do with the rotation for the final month of the season, but with Oakland currently having three relievers – Andrew Triggs, Zach Neal and Ross Detwiler – filling in thanks to injury repletion, there are minor league starters the club could bring up.

Of them, one who immediately piqued Melvin’s interest was Jharel Cotton, who came within one out of a perfect game in his second start for Triple-A Nashville after the A’s acquired him in the trade of Josh Reddick and Rich Hill. Since joining the Sounds, Cotton is 3-1 with a 3.31 ERA.

The manager also mentioned Raul Alcantara, who is 4-0 with a 0.89 in seven starts for Nashville after being promoted from Double-A, and Daniel Mengden, who has struggled in nine starts with the A’s, going 1-5 with a 5.73 ERA but who is 8-2 with a 1.67 ERA with the Sounds.

 

NOTES

–The new timetable for reliever Sean Doolittle is for him to rejoin the A’s on Friday when the Red Sox visit the Coliseum. The lefty, out since June 26 with shoulder trouble, will throw in a game Tuesday with Nashville as a final tuneup before coming off the disabled list.

–Billy Butler passed the last of his concussion protocol tests Sunday in St. Louis and was activated by the A’s Monday. He and the A’s say he’s good to go, although he wasn’t in the starting lineup against the Astros.

–Henderson Alvarez (shoulder surgery) will pitch Tuesday with Class-A Stockton in his ongoing bid to get back with the A’s before the season’s over.

–Jesse Hahn, on a rehab assignment with right shoulder strain, is due to start Wednesday for Stockton, after which he’s expected to be cleared to return to the rotation.

–Sonny Gray played catch Sunday for the first time since landing on the disabled list on Aug. 7 with a strained right forearm. His strengthening exercises have been going well, so much so that manager Bob Melvin now believes having Gray return to the club to pitch this season is at least possible.

–Catcher Josh Phegley, hospitalized since Friday with synovitis in his right knee, is due to get out of the hospital Tuesday. It’s a complication from the surgery in the knee he had midseason. The A’s had hoped he’d be available for the final month of the season but they now believe it’s unlikely he will catch for them again this season.

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Journeyman Andrew Triggs pitching his way into A’s rotation even if club can’t score for him

Andrew Triggs has caught the eye of his catcher, Stephen Vogt, these last two starts.

Andrew Triggs has caught the eye of his catcher, Stephen Vogt, these last two starts.

The A’s have all but gone out begging for quality starting pitching this year. When they’ve gotten it, they haven’t always supported it.

While Andrew Triggs threw six scoreless innings Monday, the A’s offense was busy being shut down by Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco, and Oakland came up on the short end of a 1-0 game when the Indians’ Carlos Santana delivered a one-out homer in the eighth off reliever Ryan Dull.

The loss was the A’s third in a row, eighth in the last nine games and 17th in the last 23 as 55-72 Oakland has fallen a season-high 19 games under .500 and 20 games out of first place in the American League West for the first time.

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Sonny Gray starts strengthening exercises; no throwing yet

Sonny Gray remains optimistic he'll pitch for A's again this year, but for now, he's just starting strengthening exercises on his right forearm.

Sonny Gray remains optimistic he’ll pitch for A’s again this year, but for now, he’s just starting strengthening exercises on his right forearm.

Starter Sonny Gray remains hopeful that he will be back on the mound for the A’s as a starter in September, but progress is coming along more slowly than he would like.

There is still inflammation in his right forearm, and as long as that’s the case he won’t be able to throw a baseball even to play catch on the side.

Gray did, however, stars a series of shoulder-strengthening exercises on Friday while waiting for the inflammation to subside.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to be,” Gray said. “But I’m still hoping I’ll be back out there again this year. That’s the plan.”

Manager Bob Melvin said replacing Gray isn’t done easily.

“He’s shown that he’s one of the elite pitchers in the league,” Melvin said. “He’s had a little bit of a tough time this season, but I don’t think that deters from how we feel about him and about how the rest of the league looks at him.”

Gray’s absence due to injury has led the A’s to scramble for starting pitching. When the club turned to Sean Manaea to start Friday’s series-opener against Seattle it brought an end a string of eight consecutive games with different starting pitchers – Jesse Hahn, Dillon Overton, Gray, Manaea, Kendall Graveman, Zach Neal, Ross Detwiler and Andrew Triggs.

That’s two thirds of the 12 different starters the A’s have used this year – Rich Hill, Daniel Mengden, Eric Surkamp and Chris Bassitt being the others.

And there may be more when August turns into September. Hahn is due off the disabled list in a week or so, but manager Bob Melvin named three minor leaguers Friday who were candidates to get a start in Seattle before the year is over – Mengden, Jharel Cotton and Raul Alcantara.

Cotton came within one out of a perfect game his last time out in just his second start since joining the organization as part of the deal that sent Hill and Josh Reddick to the Dodgers on Aug. 1. And Alcantara, who started the season at Double-A Midland (5-6, 4.80) has blossomed since joining Triple-A Nashville (3-0, 0.70 in four starts).

“We don’t want to see that again,” Melvin said of the A’s setting an Oakland record by having used different starters in eight straight games. “We’re probably status quo with the rotation the next time around. Then we’ll see when Jesse comes back. We still have Mengden, Cotton, Alcantara; they may be a little big later in coming.”

 

–Sean Doolittle threw a 20-pitch bullpen to hitters Tyler Ladendorf and Max Muncy Friday afternoon and could so be pitching in a game after having been on the disabled list since June with a left shoulder strain.

Doolittle threw all his pitches and came out of it fine, Melvin said.

The plan for the left-handed reliever is to either throw another set again hitters or have him head out on an injury rehabilitation assignment. That will depend on how he feels when he reports to the Coliseum Saturday.

Melvin said the A’s have been trying to be cautious with Doolittle, who began the year as the closer but who has been on the disabled list since June 25 and who has missed about seven weeks’ worth of games.

“We’ve been pretty conservation with him for obvious reasons,” Melvin said of the staff ace. “He’s a big part of what we do here. We want to make sure he comes back strong. So we’re not pushing the envelope too quickly.

“Knock wood. Everything looked really good today. The ball came out of his hand nicely and he was able to throw all of his pitches.”

 

NOTES

–Hahn (right shoulder strain) is down to throw a bullpen session Saturday. If all goes well, he’ll head out after that for an injury rehabilitation assignment and could be back with the A’s by next weekend or shortly thereafter.

–Second baseman Jed Lowrie, on the disabled list with a bunion on his left foot that has him walking gingerly will be seeing yet another specialist about what to do next. He’s talked with the A’s doctors and one outside specialist so far and has gotten conflicting information on what to do next. He’d like to avoid season-ending surgery.

–The Mariners originally planned on starting lefty Ariel Miranda Friday, but he pitched in relief in a 15-inning game Tuesday, so the club called up right-hander Joe Wieland to make his third big league start. The first two were with the Dodgers, both last season.

–Lefty reliever Patrick Schuster, put on waivers earlier in the week by Oakland, was claimed Friday by the Phillies.

 

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Jharel Cotton makes a name for himself in Oakland, long distance, no less with run at a perfect game

It took, Bob Melvin said, “about five seconds’’ once the manager had gotten to his office after Tuesday’s win over the Orioles to hear about Jharel Cotton.

The right-handed Cotton was one of three pitchers picked up from the Dodgers in the trade of Josh Reddick and Rich Hill, and the A’s had considered bringing him up to start this week against the Orioles.

They didn’t, and all he did instead was come within one out of a perfect game for Triple-A Nashville against Round Rock. The Express’s Daniel Bernier tripled with two out in the ninth of Cotton’s 3-0 win, becoming the only man to reach base.

Did that performance help Cotton’s case to be called up soon?

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Ross Detwiler, Andrew Triggs get this week’s starts for A’s; Oakland opts to wait a while on going younger in rotation

 

Lefty Ross Detwiler, who began the season with Cleveland, will start for the A's Wednesday.

Lefty Ross Detwiler, who began the season with Cleveland, will start for the A’s Wednesday.

While the A’s were awaiting word on the status of ace Sonny Gray’s right arm, they filled the open spots in this week’s rotation, saying left-hander Ross Detwiler and reliever Andrew Triggs will get the starts Wednesday and Thursday against the Orioles.

Gray and second baseman Jed Lowrie (left foot) both had MRIs taken Monday morning and the club is waiting for their doctors’ analysis of the pictures before deciding what comes next.

“The results aren’t back yet,’’ Melvin said of Gray, who came out of Sunday’s start after five innings with pain in his right forearm. The manager said it was too soon to know if the pain Gray felt was abating any.

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Bob Melvin, A’s deal with baseball after Reddick/Hill trade

Bob Melvin was sad to see Josh Reddick and Rich Hill be traded, but he said the A's played themselves into this kind of move.

Bob Melvin was sad to see Josh Reddick and Rich Hill be traded, but he said the A’s played themselves into this kind of move.

Josh Reddick was the A’s best overall player this season, which made it tough for manager Bob Melvin to see the club trade him Monday to Los Angeles.

Rich Hill was the A’s best starting pitcher, and Melvin saw him go, too, packaged with Reddick for minor league pitchers Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes.

Suffice it to say Monday wasn’t a great day for Melvin who was able to talk to Reddick but could only exchange texts with Hill as the two men scrambled to join the Dodgers for a flight to Colorado.

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Dillon Overton on Saturday; A’s hope it’s Rich Hill Sunday

 

Dillon Overton will return to the A's Saturday to start in Cleveland.

Dillon Overton will return to the A’s Saturday to start in Cleveland.

The A’s pitching rotation for the weekend series in Cleveland is getting some clarity, but only some.

Dillon Overton, the left-handed rookie who has helped pitch the A’s to two wins in three starts, will be recalled from Triple-A Nashville to start Saturday against the Indians. And Rich Hill remains probable for Sunday’s series finale, but if his blister problems have yet to be resolved, then Sonny Gray would get Sunday.

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Dillon Overton ready for a second crack at A’s rotation

Lefty Dillon Overton returns to the A's rotation Tuesday against Houston.

Lefty Dillon Overton returns to the A’s rotation Tuesday against Houston.

Dillon Overton will be coming off a long break to jump back into the A’s starting rotation Tuesday against the Astros.

The A’s rookie lefty had been preparing for a Monday start for Triple-A Nashville, but his ticket to Oakland got punched when Rich Hill came out of his Sunday start after throwing just five pitches thanks to a blister. Tuesday’s original starter, Sean Manaea, wound up throwing five innings of relief against the Blue Jays.

The Nashville Sounds were just getting back from the Triple-A All-Star break, so Overton said he had only thrown a pair of bullpen sessions in the last week when he got the word Sunday he was Oakland-bound.

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