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Joey Wendel, Chad Pinder A’s new platoon at second base

Joey Wendle will be half of A's second base platoon.

Joey Wendle will be half of A’s second base platoon.

Joey Wendel, who was almost certainly going to be called up after the rosters expanded from 25 to 40 on Thursday, got a jump on the competition when he was promoted Wednesday from Triple-A Nashville to Oakland and immediately went into the A’s starting lineup.

The arrival of Wendel, picked up from the A’s in the Brandon Moss trade of two winters ago, does a minor remake of the A’s infield. Max Muncy, who had been getting most of the work at second base, will step into the outfield as a backup with Wendle and Chad Pinder, called up last week, moving into a platoon at second base.

“I didn’t think it would be this soon,’’ Wendle admitted. He was called into Nashville manager Steve Scarsone’s office Tuesday night and told him he’d been promoted.

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A’s and Indians make it official, Oakland getting minor league lefty Colt Hynes as Cleveland adds Coco Crisp

It's official. A's have traded Coco Crisp to the Indians for minor league LHP Colt Hynes.

It’s official. A’s have traded Coco Crisp to the Indians for minor league LHP Colt Hynes.

The A’s and the Cleveland Indians have made official Wednesday morning what was reported here Tuesday night, that Oakland has traded veteran outfielder Coco Crisp back to the Indians.

Cleveland is the team with which Crisp got to the Major Leagues in 2002 and for which he played the first four seasons of his career. He’s been one of the faces of the A’s since 2010, but that ended when Crisp waived his 10-and-5 rights to not be traded (10 years in the MLB, the last five with the same team) in order to accept the deal.

The A’s, who will also ship cash to the Indians, will get left-handed pitcher Colt Hynes from Cleveland. Hynes, 31, started the year with in the Toronto Blue Jays organization before being traded to the Indians. He has a 3-1 record, two saves and a 3.99 ERA while bouncing between Double-A and Triple-A in both organizations

The money the A’s are sending will be to help defray the Indians’ costs with Crisp owed a little less than $2 million for the rest of the year and a $750,000 buyout of his 2017 contract.

Even with the money being included in the deal, the A’s are now in no danger of having a massive $13 million Crisp contract on their books for next year. He’d played in 102 games at the time of the deal, and the $13 million in 2017 would vest if he would have reached 130 games played.

The big payout now is a remote possibility – the Indians have 31 games left on the schedule, but Crisp isn’t expected to play every day for Cleveland but rather to be part of the solution as the Tribe attempts to fill in for Michael Brantley, who is on the disabled list.

Crisp was unhappy that his playing time had been cut by the A’s to the point where it became unlikely that he would be able to get to the 130-game mark, and came out mid-August to say “I know some strings are being pulled’’ to keep him only a semi-regular, adding “it all seems a little suspect.’’

He’d been limited to just 44 games last year by head and neck injuries, and even this year needed to alter his daily game preparation to be able to be ready, including the use of pain-killers.

“I haven’t felt this good in a couple of years,’’ Crisp said at the time.

And it showed. The A’s have used the disabled list a club record 27 times in 2016, but Crisp didn’t appear on it.

With Crisp traded, Oakland has contracts with just five players for 2017. DH Billy Butler, second baseman Jed Lowrie and relievers Ryan Madson, John Axford and Sean Doolittle are locked in for next season for a total of $32.1 million.

Crisp’s now former A’s teammates were uniformly unhappy to see him go but delighted at the same time that the 36-year-old switch-hitter was getting a chance to play in a pennant race, the Indians attempting to hold off the Tigers and the Royals in the American League Central.

“It’s tough so see him go,’’ left fielder Khris Davis said. “But I’m glad for him to have a chance to go back home where it started and be in the race. It’s what we all want to do at some point, to get a chance to play for a winner.’’

The A’s are bringing up second baseman Joey Wendle to fill Crisp’s spot on the roster, with Wendle and fellow rookie Chad Pinder likely to share time at second base. The time in the outfield will be spread out among Danny Valencia, Jake Smolinski and Brett Eibner, with Eibner likely to get the bulk of the freed-up playing time.

As far as the top of the Oakland lineup goes, the A’s, who already traded Billy Burns, don’t have a true leadoff hitter now. Shortstop Marcus Semien and center fielder Jake Smolinski are the only players on the current roster to have led off for Oakland this year, Semien having done it seven times and Smolinski three times.

 

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For the A’s Jake Smolinski, the fun starts in center field

Jake Smolinski has been putting on a defensive show in center since getting the chance from the A's.

Jake Smolinski has been putting on a defensive show in center since getting the chance from the A’s.

Jake Smolinski can’t fly, but as he showed Tuesday night in the Coliseum, he can put on a good impression.

He did it in the eighth inning Tuesday, racing into the right center field gap to chase down a rocket off the bat of pinch-hitter Lonnie Chisenhall.

It was, to say the least, jaw-dropping.

“That was a fun game out there tonight,” Smolinski said. “Everybody played a big part in this one. Those are fun games to play.”

There have been entirely too few of those for Oakland this year. But the A’s got terrific starting pitching from Sean Manaea, the bullpen turned the Indians away, and the offense scored nine times, just the sixth time Oakland has scored as many as nine runs in a game.

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Despite everyday role, Marcus Semien says he’s good to go

Shortstop Marcus Semien has started all 96 of the A's games this season, and isn't looking for rest.

Shortstop Marcus Semien has started all 96 of the A’s games this season, and isn’t looking for rest.

Marcus Semien walked into the A’s clubhouse Thursday afternoon and followed the same protocol he does every day. He looked to see if his name was in the starting lineup.

Well, he needn’t have bothered. He’s a perfect 96-for-96 as the A’s starting shortstop this season.

“I always look,’’ Semien said.

Ron Washington, the third base coach who works with the infielders, has been doing some looking of his own. With Semien having played virtually every inning of every game at short this year, Washington thought he was seeing a little fatigue in Semien.

So he called off the infield workout Semien and Washington do every day, which on Thursday had been scheduled for about five hours before the first pitch.

“He fought me on it,’’ Washington said. “He wants to be out there, working.’’

Semien has made errors in his last three games, one reason Washington thought fatigue was entering into the equation. The coach is hoping one day without early workouts will do the trick.

As for Semien himself, he’s ready to work just about 24/7.

“It’s part of what I do,’’ he said. “If you want to play shortstop every day, it’s part of what you need to do.’’

Manager Bob Melvin said Semien has proven to be “a durable guy.”

“He wants to play, he keeps himself in shape, gets his rest, does all the things that guys who play every day do,” Melvin said. “It doesn’t mean he’s going to play in 162, but he thinks he is.”

 

NOTES

–The A’s will turn to right-hander Jesse Hahn, as was suggested here yesterday, to start Sunday’s series finale against the Rays. Hahn, who has had a couple of shots at the A’s rotation this year without success after a nice debut season in 2015, threw just one inning Wednesday for Nashville, then shut it down because he’ll be throwing on three days’ rest. He is 2-4 with a 6.49 ERA in seven starts for Oakland and 1-5 with a 3.63 ERA with Nashville. He’d had back-to-back six-inning quality starts against New Orleans and El Paso before Wednesday’s tune-up. Manager Bob Melvin said reports indicate Hahn has been better lately at getting the ball down in the strike zone. “He’d be a nice addition for us,’’ the manager said, harking back to Hahn’s 2015 form when he was 6-6 with a 3.35 ERA.

–Lefty starter Rich Hill said he played catch Wednesday and Thursday with a padded covering over the blister on his left middle finger. Theoretically he could use the padding in a game, but then he wouldn’t be able to sue his fingers to execute his curve, and as that’s his best pitch, he wants to have the blister healed so he can pick up a ball and throw it unimpeded. Melvin said the hope is that Hill will be ready to pitch by the end of the month, negating any use of the disabled list. Of course, there is the chance Hill, 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA, will be traded by then, blister or no blister.

–Semien was the A’s leadoff hitter Thursday for the first time this year. Previously, only Billy Burns, Coco Crisp and Jed Lowrie had done it. Melvin said he liked Semien’s power (10 homers) and on-base percentage (.330) against left-handed pitching as a reason to lead him off, letting Lowrie bat second, where the A’s think the second baseman is a good fit. Semien said he likes the challenge of leading off and “setting the table for the guys.’’

–The A’s bolstered their bullpen by calling up right-hander Zach Neal so they’d have someone who could pitch a lot of innings for them, if needed. He took the spot of lefty Patrick Schuster, who threw two innings Wednesday, giving up four runs. “To have a guy who can give you true length four or five innings, like Zach is nice,’’ Melvin said.

–The A’s are hoping that disabled reliever Sean Doolittle will be able to throw sometime next week, but he hasn’t been deemed ready to do sock throws – which are exactly what they sound like – and so there’s no guarantee that will happen as soon as Oakland would like.

–Melvin hinted there is a chance that Henderson Alvarez, who has yet to pitch for the A’s this season one year removed from shoulder surgery, might return this year out of the bullpen. That wouldn’t be the A’s preference, but “maybe we’re past the point where maybe we just use him in relief a little bit. I’m not sure that’s the case. I’d hate to think you’d spend that long trying to get him ready for a month’s worth of starts, four starts or whatever.’’ In any event, while Alvarez says he feels good, Melvin said “the medical staff isn’t comfortable with him playing catch yet.’’

 

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Ryon Healy arrives and Billy Burns is demoted, so Danny Valencia, Coco Crisp can count on seeing diminished time

The A’s will begin  the second half of the season resculpting their lineup, beginning with Friday’s move to send down center fielder Billy Burns and promote 2013 third-round draft pick Ryon Healy, who is the club’s new third baseman.

The moves mean Healy is the new third baseman, with Danny Valencia relegated to part-time work as a first baseman against left-handed pitching and an occasional designated hitter.

And while Burns is gone, that doesn’t mean more playing time for the other center fielder, Coco Crisp. Instead, manager Bob Melvin the plan is to see if Jake Smolinski is up to getting regular work in center field for the 38-51 A’s.

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Apologetic Crisp takes one-game suspension in stride

Coco Crisp missed Friday's game while serving a one-game suspension he said he deserves.

Coco Crisp missed Friday’s game while serving a one-game suspension he said he deserves.

Coco Crisp took the one-game suspension he was handed by the MLB front office in stride, not only declining to appeal the suspension but saying he deserved it.

The A’s center fielder threw a bat that either hit or came very close to hitting home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn in Thursday’s 3-1 Oakland win over the Astros. It was the fifth inning, the A’s were collectively unhappy with Reyburn’s definition of the strike zone and Crisp dropped his bat in the general direction of Reyburn in protest.

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Billy Burns slump an opportunity for Jake Smolinski

Billy Burns's is having to make adjustments at the plate in his second season, and it's been some slow going.

Billy Burns’s is having to make adjustments at the plate in his second season, and it’s been some slow going.

Billy Burns is having a classic sophomore slump.

The A’s center fielder had an unexpected breakout season in 2015, a year when the A’s were figuring him for spending most of the season at Triple-A. Forced into duty with Coco Crisp hurting, Burns played in 125 games, averaged .294, led the league in infield hits, had a .370 on-base percentage and led the A’s with 26 steals.

This time around his average is at .236, his on-base percentage is a paltry .306 and he’s out of the lineup more than expected – Thursday night in Minute Maid Park was his 20th non-start in 86 games.

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Crisp still looks like a winner at top of A’s lineup

Coco Crisp has been helping the A's find ways to win when he's the leadoff man, as was the case Saturday.

Coco Crisp has been helping the A’s find ways to win when he’s the leadoff man, as was the case Saturday.

The A’s have learned to adapt during a troubled season, nowhere more than at the top of the lineup.

Coco Crisp was supposed to be the No. 2 man this year at the top of the lineup behind another speedster, Billy Burns, who came into his own as a rookie last year by hitting .294 with a .334 on-base percentage and 70 runs scored.

Crisp, on the other hand, was limited to 44 games last year by neck and head injuries and an early elbow surgery. Manager Bob Melvin’s plan was to start Burns most of the time and have Crisp fit in when needed. When both were going to play, Burns would lead off and Crisp would bat second.

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Khris Davis gets Saturday off after being hit on elbow again

Khris Davis was out of the lineup for the A's Saturday after being hit by a pitch on his left elbow Friday.

Khris Davis was out of the lineup for the A’s Saturday after being hit by a pitch on his left elbow Friday.

Left fielder Khris Davis was back on the bench Saturday with elbow pain, one day after having returned to the lineup.

Davis was hit by a pitch last Sunday on his left elbow. That forced him to miss games Tuesday and Wednesday in Milwaukee, his former home, but he was cleared to play Friday though he was cautioned to wear a protective elbow pad, just in case.

He wore it, but in his second plate trip Friday he was hit on the same elbow. The ball mostly caught the pad, but enough of it touched flesh that he was feeling pain during and after the game and again Saturday morning.

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Rich Hill gets extra time thanks to off-day heavy schedule

Rich Hill will be getting a little extra time for his groin injury to recover thanks to off-days built into A's schedule.

Rich Hill will be getting a little extra time for his groin injury to recover thanks to off-days built into A’s schedule.

The A’s are feeling a little more kindly to the schedule maker because it may well mean top starter Rich Hill will miss less time.

With the A’s due for days off Thursday, next Monday and again next Thursday, this stretch of the schedule seemed like off-day overkill, and the A’s grumbled some.

Now it seems that Hill, at 8-3 and with a second-in-the-American League 2.25 ERA, will be able to turn that to his advantage, getting an extra day or two off to deal with a mild groin injury. Manager Bob Melvin said before Monday’s game that Hill will get one extra day off, no matter what.

Because of the off day Thursday, Monday starter Kendall Graveman would be able to pitch on his regular fifth day Friday in Houston, the day that would be Hill’s sixth day, so Hill could be pushed back to Saturday against the Astros without difficulty.

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