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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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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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A’s scrambling in rotation with Sonny Gray sidelined

Sonny Gray landed on the disabled list Sunday with a forearm strain, leaving the A's scrambling for starting pitching.

Sonny Gray landed on the disabled list Sunday with a forearm strain, leaving the A’s scrambling for starting pitching.

The A’s have lost another starting pitcher to the disabled list, ace Sonny Gray landing there Sunday morning with the A’s calling up right-handed pitcher Chris Smith from Triple-A Nashville.

Gray came out of Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Cubs after five innings in which he’d allowed two runs on five hits with what was diagnosed as a strained right forearm. It’s the second time on the disabled list this year for the right-hander, who had a flexor injury earlier in what has been his worst season – 5-11 with a Major League-worst 5.74 ERA.

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Have the A’s seen the last of starter Rich Hill?

Have the A's seen the last of Rich Hill in the rotation? Maybe. Maybe not.

Have the A’s seen the last of Rich Hill in the rotation? Maybe. Maybe not.

Rich Hill will be making his first start as a Dodger this weekend in Los Angeles, so what he does has no impact on the A’s, his former team.

Except that it might. The left-handed starter is a free agent at the end of the year, and he said Thursday he expects the A’s will be one of the teams calling on him come autumn.

More than that, he will be listening. He and his family enjoyed living in the Bay Area and could see living there again.

“You look at the record there and maybe you don’t see what I see and a lot of people in the game see,’’ Hill said. “The A’s are a team that has a lot of good young talent. I like what they have there. I think they’re going to be good real soon if they can stay healthy.

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A’s Jed Lowrie trying to play through left foot pain

Jed Lowrie is having a tough time walking and running while dealing with left foot problems.

Jed Lowrie is having a tough time walking and running while dealing with left foot problems.

Jed Lowrie isn’t going to ask for a day off, because that’s foreign to the way he plays.

Even so, the A’s second baseman needs something to help him with a chronically sore left foot. With a bunion doing him in, the veteran is hoping that some yet-to-arrive orthotics for his shoes will help keeping him going.

“I’ve been better,’’ Lowrie said wincing at the thought of the pain playing nine innings was likely to bring. “I want to be in there. I’m trying to get through it.’’

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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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A’s could use more of Monday’s unexpected plate patience

Khris Davis and Yonder Alonso (17) were factors in the A's fourth-inning uprising Monday fueled by walks.

Khris Davis and Yonder Alonso (17) were factors in the A’s fourth-inning uprising Monday fueled by walks.

Coming into the second half after the All-Star break, manager Bob Melvin was asked what it would take to get the A’s to look at more pitches, take more walks and thereby generate more offense.

He summed it up in two words: work and patience. He didn’t see much of it, the A’s being next-to-last in walks at the break and dead last in on-base percentage.

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Rich Hill isn’t pulling a Scott Kazmir, at least not yet

It was 51 weeks ago that Scott Kazmir reported to the Coliseum ready to start for the A's only to learn that he'd been traded to Houston.

It was 51 weeks ago that Scott Kazmir reported to the Coliseum ready to start for the A’s only to learn that he’d been traded to Houston.

It was 51 weeks ago on a Thursday afternoon that media coming into the A’s clubhouse before an afternoon game against the Blue Jays were treated to the odd sight of Scott Kazmir sitting in street clothes in the office of A’s manager Bob Melvin.

Kazmir, who’d rebuilt his career with the A’s, was supposed to be Oakland’s starting pitcher that day. Instead, the A’s traded him to Houston in a deal that netted the A’s pitcher Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham.

Kazmir is now with the Dodgers. Mengden is now in the A’s rotation. Nottingham is now with Double-A Biloxi in the Brewers’ organization while the player the A’s got from Milwaukee in trading him, Khris Davis, is the A’s current home run leader.

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