Burns’ leg issues have cut into his explosiveness on bases; Lawrie, Semien get a day off; decision on Coke by July 10

Billy Burns has been missed by the A's offense while getting the last two games off to deal with leg issues.

Billy Burns has been missed by the A’s offense while getting the last two games off to deal with leg issues.

The A’s will be keeping a close eye on center fielder and leadoff man Billy Burns Sunday and for the next few days after he was given two days off to deal with some pain behind his right knee and a left hip flexor problem.

Burns didn’t ask for the time off, but manager Bob Melvin and the medical crew felt it was in the best interest of the club and the player to see if they could get him right. The A’s actually held off for a bit because Burns was (and is) in the middle of a 15-game hitting streak, the best for an Oakland hitter this year.

“I think I’ll come back more refreshed,’’ Burns said Sunday morning. “There was some tightness that meant I didn’t feel like I had my usual explosiveness when I was running.’’

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A’s go for a pair of SEC shortstops in Day 1 of MLB draft; Martin has the pedigree, White has the legit power swing

Richie Martin’s maternal grandfather, Cornelius Thomas, played in the Negro Leagues.

Chet Lemon, Martin’s coach since he was 11, played in the big leagues for 16 seasons, split between the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers.

  1. Timothy Gallwey, the San Francisco-born author of “The Inner Game of Tennis,’’ never played much baseball at all.

But the three of them, together with Richard Martin Sr., have been instrumental in the development of University of Florida product Martin, the A’s first-round pick in the June draft.

Oakland made one other pick on the first day of the three-day draft, picking another shortstop, Mikey White from the University of Alabama with the 63 pick.

Thomas died before Martin was able to meet him, but the genetics are clearly there. Lemon was an All-Star center fielder with the White Sox twice and the Tigers once who has been a major impact on Martin’s Thomas. And Gallwey’s book which deals more with the mental approach to tennis, and Martin has found it valuable.

“It sounds crazy,’’ Martin said of the Gallwey book. “It’s not too much about tennis. It’s about the mental part. It’s overlooked.’’

The A’s are hoping Martin won’t be overlooked. The 6-foot, 185-pound shortstop hit .292 this year with five homers and 33 RBIs in 65 games with Florida and, with the help of being hit by pitches 16 times, he owns an on-base percentage of .404. A right-handed hitter, he leads the Gators in runs scored, walked, steals and hit by pitches.

A’s director of scouting Eric Kubota described Martin as “a baseball rat.’’

“He can maximize his ability, he’s a team leader, he plays the position well,’’ Kubota said. “First and foremost, he has the tools and the athleticism. He and really runs and really throw, and his defense ability has a chance to be special.’’

Martin is just 20, so Kubota said he’s the equivalent of the age of most college sophomores, so the A’s believe he has the chance to grow some.

“He’s an outstanding athleticism and that translates into big range,’’ Kubota said. ` He has the ability to make the routine play, and the arm strength to make all the throws.’’

Unlike some of the six shortstops taken in the first 20 picks of the draft, Martin is projected by scouts to remain at shortstop. He has above-average credentials in both range and arm strength.

And he has that baseball pedigree that most players don’t have.

“Coach Chet came around when I was 11 years,’’ Martin said. “We have a very nice relationship. I’ve played for his travel team (Chet Lemon’s Juice). Other than my dad, he’s had the biggest impact on me in baseball.

“We have a pretty close relationship. I got to speak with him today. He told me to take it all in, then when the time comes, get to work and play some baseball.’’

Martin, who was drafted out of high school by the Mariners, broke into the upper reaches of draft prospects with a slash line of .364/.432/.469 with Bourne, where he was the league’s second-leading hitter.

The A’s other SEC addition, White, hit .339 with 19 doubles, six triples, four homers and 35 RBIs with Alabama. He had 31 walks and was hit by pitches 16 times for an on-base percentage of .444 that the A’s found attractive.

Scouts see White, a 6-foot-1, 195 pound right-hander, as a possibility to be moved to second base or third base even though he started all 184 games with a .308 career average.

The A’s aren’t willing to go that way, not yet.

“We think he has ability to play shortstop,’’ Kubota said. “We have guys who are very positive about that. That stuff will shake itself out as time goes on.’’


A’s first-round pick Richie Martin has a baseball pedigree

The A’s chose a shortstop with a good baseball pedigree in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft Monday when they selected Richie Martin, a shortstop from the University of Florida.

Martin, who was a highly-regarded hitter in the Cape Cod League with a slash line of .364/.432/.469, has roots back to the Negro Leagues, his maternal grandfather having played with the Kansas City Monarchs in the 1950s.

Scouts rate his speed above average, say he’s a natural athlete and has above-average range at shortstop, which likely means the A’s would keep him at shortstop down the line. He’s one of six shortstops taken in the first 20 picks of the draft, but at least some of those are expected to be moved to other positions by the teams that drafted them.

Martin is a major reason the Gators who will start play in the College World Series on Saturday against Miami. He’s hitting .292 this year with five homers and 33 RBIs in 65 games and, with the help of being hit by pitches 16 times, he owns an on-base percentage of .4040.

A right-handed hitter, he leads the Gators in runs scored, walked, steals and hit by pitches.

This is the 16th time in the last 19 years the A’s have picked a college player with their first pick in the draft. Oakland has one more pick later in the evening, the 63rd pick overall. The draft picks up Tuesday at 10 a.m. with rounds 3-through-10, and rounds 11-through-40, will be selected Wednesday.



Burns tearing up Cactus League in bid to make A’s roster

Billy Burns is hitting .441 this spring as the switch-hitter bids to buck the odds and make the A's roster.

Billy Burns is hitting .441 this spring as the switch-hitter bids to buck the odds and make the A’s roster.

One way to beat the odds is to beat up opposing pitchers, and A’s outfielder Billy Burns is doing just that.

He had two more hits and a sacrifice fly Sunday in the A’s 5-2 win over the Brewers in Maryvale Park. That leaves him with a .441 batting average and a team-best 10 runs scored.

The starting outfield is filled with Coco Crisp in left, Josh Reddick, assuming he’s healthy by opening day, in right and Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry splitting time in center field.

Should the A’s need a fifth outfielder, they’d likely go to Mark Canha, who is a Rule 5 player who will have to be offered back to the Marlin if Oakland doesn’t keep him on the 25-man roster all season.

Against that Burns has just been at ease. The switch-hitter lead the club in games played, at-bats, hits (15) and batting average. And Burns, who converted to switch-hitting only after turning pro four years ago, is being noticed.

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Early exit from roster for Leon a tough one for Melvin

The need for a slew of arms behind them with back-to-back split-squad games Friday and Saturday over, the A’s made their first roster cuts of the spring Sunday morning, sending out five players, all pitchers.

Right-hander Arnold Leon, who was up briefly with the A’s in 2014 but didn’t pitch, was optioned to Triple-A Nashville. Right-hander Raul Alcantara, recovering from Tommy John surgery, was optioned to Double-A Midland. And right-hander Angel Castro and lefties Jim Fuller and Rudy Owens were reassigned to minor league camp.

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A title for Kane County

Nice to see that some of the seasons in the A’s organization aren’t going as dismally as the one the big team is enduring. Kane County, the team’s Single-A affiliate clinched the Midwestern League Western Division title for the first half with a 6-0 win over Wisconsin on Sunday. Shawn Haviland (5-3) earned the win with six strong innings, and Franklin Hernandez hit a grand slam.

Among the Kane County standouts in the first half:

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Looking ahead

Quick question: Is it me or does it seem like we’ve been reading or hearing about the A’s offensive struggles for oh, about a dozen years? OK, so it hasn’t been that long. But the team’s three losses to the Giants over the weekend was all too similar to all too many series for all too long. The A’s talled all of 16 hits, hit .172 and scored three runs.

Not sure how you feel, but to these eyes, it’s gotten old. So thought I’d spend Tuesday morning looking at some of the hitters who might be coming down the road for the A’s.

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A’s minor league recap: Weeks hits grand slam as Ports end losing streak

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm Thursday for the A’s affiliates:


RiverCats 3, Tacoma (Mariners) 2: Story l Boxscore

Dana Eveland is now 4-0 for the RiverCats as the lefty went six innings and allowed just one earned run. Eveland gave up three hits, three walks and struck out five.

Ryan Webb (fourth round, ‘04) got his first save.

Gregorio Petit had a two-run home run, his third homer of the season.

Travis Buck went 1-for-3 and is hitting .364 through four games while on rehab assignment.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

Corpus Christi 4 (Astros), RockHounds 3: Story l Boxscore

First baseman Chris Carter blasted his ninth homer of the season and second baseman
Alex Valdez also homered, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a RockHounds loss.

Jared Lansford gave up two runs in the eighth and was tagged with the loss. Corpus Christi catcher Jason Castro, the ex-Castro Valley High and Stanford star, scored the game-winning run.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Ports 5, Visalia (Diamondbacks) 4: Story l Boxscore

Jemile Weeks hit his first professional grand slam and Tyson Ross picked up his first pro win as the Ports ended their eight-game losing streak.

Weeks, whose grand slam highlighted a five-run third inning, now has four homers and 14 RBI in 14 games. He has a .464 on-base percentage and his OPS sits at 1.067.

Ross, who lasted five innings and allowed three runs, wound up tying his career-high with seven strikeouts.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Cougars 2, Wisconsin (Brewers) 1: Story l Boxscore

Pedro Figueroa continued his solid pitching as he improved to 6-2 by throwing six strong innings. He allowed just one unearned run and has permitted just two earned runs in his last 24 innings, covering four starts.

Closer Mickey Storey notched his seventh save and lowered his ERA to 0.63. The 23-year-old righty has allowed just five hits in 14 1/3 innings and has 19 strikeouts.


A’s minor league recap: Cardenas moved to third; Weeks stays hot

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm Thursday for the A’s affiliates:


Tacoma (Mariners) 6, RiverCats 4: Story l Boxscore

Relievers Henry Rodriguez and Jay Marshall gave up five runs in the final two innings as the RiverCats failed to protect a 4-1 lead. Rodriguez walked two batters and surrendered a game-tying, three-run homer to Brad Nelson. Marshall permitted the go-ahead runs in the ninth inning.

James Simmons was in line for the win after working five innings and allowing just four hits and one run. Jerry Blevins then added two scoreless innings with four strikeouts before Sacramento’s troubles began.

Travis Buck homered and drove in two runs as his rehab seems to be going well. Danny Putnam had a two-run homer, his third in 111 at-bats for the Cats.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

Corpus Christi 5, RockHounds 1: Story l Boxscore

Adrian Cardenas, who has played mostly at second base and some at shortstop this season, has spent the last two games at third base for the RockHounds, who suffered their second straight setback. Cardenas, who booted an eighth-inning grounder Thursday night, would seem to have a much clearer path to Oakland as a third baseman. Especially with Jemile Weeks playing second base at Stockton and seemingly Oakland-bound within a couple of years. The A’s obviously figure on finding room in their lineup one day soon for both Cardenas and Weeks.

Tommy Everidge had played third for Midland for most of the year, but he was promoted to Sacramento. Alex Valdez, who arrived from Stockton, is also a third baseman.

Bobby Cramer struck out seven in 4 2/3 innings, but took the loss after allowing two runs. Matt Spencer and Archie Gilbert had two of the Hounds’ five hits, and Cardenas had the other.

Jose Valverde, the Astros’ closer who’s on a rehab assignment, pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning for Corpus Christi.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Modesto (Rockies) 8, Ports 2: Story l Boxscore

The Ports lost their eighth in a row as they were swept in Modesto. On the bright side, Jemile Weeks continued his torrid pace, going 3-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.

Weeks, who has hit in every game since joining Stockton from extended spring training on May 27, is now batting .370.

Christian Vitters had a pair of hits and scored twice for the Ports.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Wisconsin 7, Cougars 3: Story l Boxscore

The Cougars scored three times in the first on a two-run single by Steve Kleen and an RBI double by Grant Desme, but Wisconsin countered with four runs in the bottom of the first off Shawn Haviland on its way to victory.