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Billy Butler making Bob Melvin, A’s take notice of production

Billy Butler keeps hammering the ball against right-handers, and it's getting him more playing time.

Billy Butler keeps hammering the ball against right-handers, and it’s getting him more playing time.

Billy Butler has seemingly come out of nowhere to be the A’s hottest hitter.

The prize free agent plucked from Kansas City two winters ago struggled in his first year with Oakland, hitting 40 points under his career batting average, just .251, with just 15 homers.

It wasn’t want he or the A’s were looking for after agreeing on a three-year, $30 million deal designed to give the A’s more right-handed oomph.

Things got so bad in the first month of this season that Butler became relegated to being a part-time player, starting against left-handed pitchers but having to check the lineup card every day to see if he might be getting a start against a right-hander.

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Coco Crisp has empathy for neck issue that likely will end Prince Fielder’s career

Coco Crisp goes through a little bit of hell every day just to continue playing baseball, but it could be worse. He could have opted for surgery to try and correct bulging disk issues in his neck, the same kind of surgery that apparently will prematurely end the career of Texas Rangers slugger Prince Fielder.

Fielder had cervical fusion surgery in May of 2014 between two disks in his neck and required the same surgery again on July 29 just above the previous surgical area. Fielder, who is signed through 2020 and still owed a ton of money, hasn’t announced his retirement but it appears he will not be able to receive clearance from doctors to play again. A press conference is scheduled for Wednesday in Arlington, Texas, to clarify Fielder’s future.

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Sonny Gray very relieved arm injury isn’t serious, hopes to pitch again before season ends

Sonny Gray was back in the A’s clubhouse Tuesday looking like a very, very relieved man. He got the MRI news on his strained right forearm late Monday night and was ecstatic to learn the test revealed no structural damage. The injury that landed him on the disabled list Sunday is merely inflammation and fluid buildup that should heal on its own with down time.

“Yeah, there’s definitely relief after not knowing for a couple of days what the issue was,” Gray said. “But once you get the news, you can start to put a plan in motion and hopefully it won’t be a significant thing.”

Gray’s just glad the horror stories he’s heard about how elbow injuries requiring surgery often manifest themselves didn’t apply to him.

“I’ve always heard people say you feel something on one pitch and I never had felt that until the other day,” he said. I had no news until last night around 8 p.m. I knew how I felt, but I didn’t know what all the tests were going to say.”
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Coco Crisp shows he can do a little bit of everything

Coco Crisp turned in a complete game Thursday, throwing out a runner, stealing a homer and clubbing a tie-breaking double.

Coco Crisp turned in a complete game Thursday, throwing out a runner, stealing a homer and clubbing a tie-breaking double.

A year ago, Coco Crisp was in the midst of losing his job as a starter with the A’s, a neck injury making him just a fraction of the player he had been.

2016 has been something of a redemption for Crisp. And Thursday’s game in Anaheim had him showing that all his facets are in play.

He singlehandedly shut down the Angels offense in the fifth inning, then put the A’s ahead in the seventh. Although the Angels would rally to force extra innings on an error later, the A’s 8-6 10-inning win wouldn’t have been Oakland’s without Crisp, a player that first baseman Yonder Alonso called “The Natural.’’

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Hill-Reddick trade gets decent support in Twitter poll

A's executive VP Billy Beane (above) and GM David Forst got considerable support in an online poll for the trades of Josh Reddick and (in particular) Rich Hill.

A’s executive VP Billy Beane (above) and GM David Forst got considerable support in an online poll for the trades of Josh Reddick and (in particular) Rich Hill.

The A’s in general and executive vice president Billy Beane in particular always will catch flak at any trade deadline move that sees Major League talent leaving and minor league talent coming in.

And so it was Monday and Tuesday in the wake of the decision by Beane and general manager David Forst to trade away right fielder Josh Reddick and starting pitcher Rich Hill for three minor league pitchers from the Dodgers organization that most A’s fans had never heard of – Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes. All three are right-handed and all three could wind up in the A’s rotation if the Beane/Forst calculations are correct.

When (if) those calculations are proved out, all will be forgiven, presumably. In the immediate aftermath of the deal, however, there were any number of suggestions on Twitter that Beane and Forst are the ones who should be traded, and more than a few willing to package managing owner Lew Wolff with them.

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Unhappy Butler expresses displeasure about role following winning homer that saves Hahn effort

For a guy who hit the game-winning home run and averted the anguish of a ruined Jesse Hahn pitching performance, Billy Butler didn’t sound like a very happy man following Sunday’s 3-2 A’s victory over Tampa Bay.

Butler is laboring through his worst major-league season by far. He’s been so unproductive –- two home runs and 22 RBIs as he entered Game No. 99 — the A’s have ignored the fact he is their third highest-paid player and made him a part-time employee who is only generally in the lineup against left-handed pitching.

The veteran designated hitter thinks that’s wrong, and hitting an eighth-inning center field blast off right-handed reliever, Erasmo Ramirez, to preserve Oakland’s seventh win in 10 games since the All-Star break finally gave him the platform to say so.
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Fireworks start early as Graveman, Smolinki, Healy deliver one of the most satisfying wins of 2016

It hasn’t been much more pulsating for the A’s all year than it was Saturday night at the Coliseum. Maybe it wasn’t just a thrilling aberration, either.

All within about 10 minutes, Kendall Graveman finished off the A’s first complete game of the year, Jake Smolinski smacked a tying two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning and rookie Ryon Healy followed with a game-winning solo blast to give Oakland a 4-3 comeback victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Best of all, a crowd of 30,436 was on hand to see the A’s third walk-off win this week, and their sixth win in nine games since the All-Star break. Most of the fans came to see a post-game fireworks show, but the pyrotechnics started early thanks to a couple of players who could be major figures in Oakland’s long-range future.

“Two really loud sounds by a couple of young players who are getting a chance to play every day,” said manager Bob Melvin. “It’s exciting to watch.”
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With Overton down, A’s are going to need a Sunday starter; they say Rich Hill won’t be ready to go by then

With lefty Dillon Overton having been sent down, A's will need someone else to start Sunday vs. Rays.

With lefty Dillon Overton having been sent down, A’s will need someone else to start Sunday vs. Rays.

The A’s sent down Tuesday’s starter, Dillon Overton, to get infielder Arismendy Alcantara back, and immediately gave him Wednesday’s start at second base.

The A’s needed the depth in the infield with Tyler Ladendorf having been sent down Tuesday, but the move complicates the A’s rotation near-term.

Oakland will need to fill Overton’s slot on Sunday against Tampa Bay, and the only thing they A’s are sure of is that Rich Hill, the man Overton was subbing for, won’t be ready to pitch come Sunday.

“I don’t see that happening at this point,’’ manager Bob Melvin said of getting Hill back for the Rays. “We’ll have to do something different.’’

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A’s recall Overton and Coulombe, Triggs to DL, Ladendorf to minors

The A’s officially recalled pitcher Dillon Overton on Tuesday, making the move as he prepares to start against the Houston Astros.

But they also did some other roster shifting, recalling left-handed reliever Daniel Coulombe. To make room, Andrew Triggs was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left shin contusion and infielder Tyler Ladendorf was optioned to Triple-A Nashville. Continue Reading

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Josh Donaldson has spread his wings since leaving the A’s; History Channel spotlights him in `The Vikings’ in August

Josh Donaldson hasn't stopped hitting since moving to the Blue Jays, and he's a part-time actor, too.

Josh Donaldson hasn’t stopped hitting since moving to the Blue Jays, and he’s a part-time actor, too.

Josh Donaldson felt almost at home in the Coliseum before Friday’s A’s-Blue Jays game.

Sitting on the couch of equipment manager Steve Vucinich, the third baseman caught up with members of the organization with which he rose to national prominence in 2012-14.

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