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Jharel Cotton’s long trip from Virgin Islands to join A’s starting rotation plus a double dose of Alcantara

Jharel Cotton, who came to the A's in the Josh Reddick-Rich Hill trade with the Dodgers, makes his MLB debut Wednesday.

Jharel Cotton, who came to the A’s in the Josh Reddick-Rich Hill trade with the Dodgers, makes his MLB debut Wednesday.

When Jharel Cotton was 7 and hanging around his house in the Virgin Islands watching TV, he said his stepdad told him he needed to get outside

He did as told, ran into a local baseball game, liked what he saw and said he wanted to play, too. On Wednesday, 17 years later, he makes his Major League debut as the starting pitcher for the A’s in the series finale against the Angels.

The 5-11, 195-pound right-hander moved to the Virginia when he was 16 in order to play a higher level of high school baseball and eventually made it to East Carolina University where the Dodgers made him a 20th-round pick in the 2012 draft.

He was making some progress toward to Dodgers rotation this year when he got word that changed everything.

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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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New music, same results for the A’s Sean Doolittle

Sean Doolittle was back on the mound for the A's Monday after missing 59 games and he brought new music with him.

Sean Doolittle was back on the mound for the A’s Monday after missing 59 games and he brought new music with him.

For most of his big league career, Sean Doolittle has come out of the A’s bullpen to the sounds of Metallica playing “For Whom The Bell Tolls.’’

No more.

When he return to the A’s by walking from the bullpen to the mound to start the seventh inning Monday, it was still Metallica, but this time the song was “Disposable Heroes.’’

None of which seemed to matter to a crowd of 18,149 who’ve been waiting since June to see Doolittle, the one-time A’s closer, on the mound again.

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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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Daniel Mengden will get Saturday’s start for A’s, who will spend weekend playing on turf cut up by two NFL games

Daniel Mengden will get called up by the A's to start Saturday vs. the Red Sox.

Daniel Mengden will get called up by the A’s to start Saturday vs. the Red Sox.

Daniel Mengden made the trip from Nashville to Oakland will make Saturday’s start against the Red sox.

Manager Bob Melvin said Mengden, who will be activated before the game, has pitched better that his 1-5 record and 5.73 ERA with Oakland would suggest.

The club likes his assortment of pitches and when they sent him down the last time, it was because they saw signs of midseason weariness in him. He was 8-2 with a 1.67 in his time with Triple-A Nashville.

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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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Ryon Healy confident after bummer of a day defensively

Ryon Healy will have to prove to the A's that he can handle third base defensively heading forward.

Ryon Healy will have to prove to the A’s that he can handle third base defensively heading forward.

The second inning Monday scarcely could have gone worse for Ryon Healy.

The A’s rookie third baseman had the first play of the bottom of the second come his way. Houston’s Yuli Gurriel’s slow roller was going to be a difficult third out of the inning, Healy got to the ball, and bounced a throw to first base. Gurriel had a hit, and short of a laser throw on the fly from Healy, he would have had a single, no matter what.

Marwin Gonzalez followed with an inning-ending grounder, or it would have been inning-ending if Healy hadn’t muffed the pickup. Now the Astros had two men on with two out and Teoscar Hernandez at the plate.

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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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Kendall Graveman moves in as ace of A’s rotation

Kendall Graveman served up a 5-1 win over the Indians Wednesday.

Kendall Graveman served up a 5-1 win over the Indians Wednesday.

How does a pitcher who began the season with a 1-6 record and 5.48 ERA morph into becoming the ace of his team’s rotation?

The answer, if you are Kendall Graveman, is to rediscover the best qualities of his sinker while pitching for an A’s team that lost one starter, Rich Hill, to a trade while seeing another ace, Sonny Gray, on and off the disabled list in the midst of his worst big league season.

Graveman stretched his record to 10-8 Wednesday with his ninth win in his last 11 decisions. He threw a shutout his last time out against the White Sox and had Cleveland, the team with the American League’s best record, blanked for 6.2 innings of a 5-1 Oakland win.

He is, in fact, the A’s ace.

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Doolittle likely to be A’s first returnee from the DL

Sean Doolittle will get to throw one inning Friday in Nashville on injury rehab assignment and could be back with A's soon thereafter.

Sean Doolittle will get to throw one inning Friday in Nashville on injury rehab assignment and could be back with A’s soon thereafter.

The A’s are looking increasingly like they will get reliever Sean Doolittle off the disabled list next week but won’t have starter Jesse Hahn or catcher Josh Phegley back until after the rosters expand from 25 players to 40 on Sept. 1.

Down the line in September the club still has hopes of seeing both Henderson Alvarez and Sonny Gray on the mound.

Doolittle, currently in the middle of an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Nashville with his left shoulder strain under control, is scheduled to throw one inning Friday for the Sounds. If he comes through it feeling good, he could be activated this weekend in St. Louis or next week in Houston.

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