Graveman making Donaldson trade look better and better

News flash: Kendall Graveman is good. Very, very good. His latest seven-inning shutout stint extended his scoreless streak to 16 innings, and he outdueled the bane of Oakland, Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, for his latest feat of fine mound work.

This is the Graveman who dazzled in spring training. He ran up against the rocks when the regular season started, but the general consensus among the A’s is that he started rushing when the regular season began. He needed a short stint in the minors to calm himself down and start again. Ever since his recall on May 23, he has been just short of brilliant — nine starts, none in which he’s allowed no more than three runs and the last six in which he’s allowed no more than two. His ERA is 1.78 over those nine starts (12 earned runs in 60 2/3 innings pitched).

A lot of folks didn’t understand the Donaldson trade considering the A’s still had control of his services for another three seasons. But now, they have a 24-year-old starter who could be a mainstay for the next five years. He’s a bona fide candidate for American League Rookie of the Year (along with teammate Biily Burns), and while Donaldson is having an All-Star first half in Toronto, the A’s aren’t so bad off for making the deal. We haven’t even seen Sean Nolin yet, the other starter obtained in the deal (he’s 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA at Triple-A Nashville) or still-teenage shortstop Franklin Barreto, who’s hitting .281 with seven homers at Class A Stockton.
Continue Reading


The halfway point sell-off looms as A’s stumble once again on crucial homestand

We’re still a couple of weeks from the All-Star break but the A’s will actually reach the 81-game midway point with Wednesday afternoon’s interleague series finale against the Colorado Rockies. Gosh, how time flies when you’re having fun.

At 35-45 through the first 80, the writing is pretty much on the wall for the 2015 A’s and it reads, “Not entirely hopeless, but …” They looked like they had something going when they won five in a row on the road coming into a 10-game homestand. But with four losses in five games at the Coliseum confines, Oakland is on the precipice. A bad weekend against Seattle could set the course of the club’s second half long before anyone anticipated it.

If Billy Beane could get such a strong read on last year’s club at the midway point — the A’s were 51-30 through 81 games in 2014, in case you were wondering — it doesn’t take a mind reader to know what Beane must be thinking right now.

Sell, and sell fast. He has marketable commodities with which he can reap long-term gains and the sooner he can move impending free agents like Scott Kazmir, Ben Zobrist, Tyler Clippard and possibly even Eric O’Flaherty, the more he will likely get in return from clubs in need for the second-half playoff push.

Continue Reading


Top pick Martin agrees to terms, works out with club; Gray in hospital with flu-like symptoms

The A’s agreed to terms with first-round draft pick Richie Martin Tuesday and the 20-year-old shortstop out of the University of Florida worked out and took batting practice with the team before heading out on his summer minor-league assignment.

Martin, the 20th overall pick, will depart Wednesday and begin play with Oakland’s short-season Class A team in Vermont. Before he left, he got the grand tour of the major league clubhouse and met most of the players and staff. His biggest thrill, he said, was the shoes he received from equipment manager Steve Vucinich.

“I actually heard about the white shoes about a week ago and I was pretty pumped about that,” Martin said. “I’ve never worn white shoes in my baseball career.”

Martin said while growing up in Valrico, Fla., he watched A’s players Scott Kazmir and Ben Zobrist when they played with the Tampa Bay Rays. He’d only been to California once before this week, when he was 9, so he doesn’t know a whole lot about Oakland or the A’s organization.

“The only thing I really knew was seeing the movie `Moneyball,’ ” Martin said.

Asked to give a comparison with general manager Billy Beane and actor Brad Pitt, who played Beane in the film, Martin said, “The hair was spot on, and the glasses. But I’d only been around him for an hour, and in the movie, they kind of made him more aggressive and everything was about business. But he was making jokes, and the whole time I was around him, he was smiling. So maybe he’s not like Brad Pitt in that sense.”

Martin, who hit .291 as junior with the Gators with a .399 on-base percentage, said he has drawn comparisons with Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond as a good blend of offensive and defensive skills. He added that he grew up idolizing the great Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

Martin, who was accompanied by his parents to his signing, also noted that his maternal grandfather, Walter Thomas, played in the Negro Leagues with the Kansas City Monarchs. Thomas actually played parts of four seasons with the Monarchs and in 1945, batted second ahead of future Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson. Satchel Paige also was on that Monarchs team.

Martin isn’t sure how long it will take him to get to Oakland for real.

“Hopefully it will be quick,” he said. “It depends on how I play and nothing but that.”

The A’s have now signed or agree to terms with 31 of their 40 selections from the draft, including each of the first 13 and 19 of the first 21.

Scheduled starter Sonny Gray had to be admitted to the hospital Monday night with flu-like symptoms, and as far as manager Bob Melvin knew, Gray was still there Tuesday afternoon.

“It hit him pretty hard,” Melvin said. “He’s actually been dealing with it for the last couple of days, but last night, it actually got worse. I talked to him this morning and he still sounded pretty weak, but he said he felt a lot better than last night.”

Melvin wasn’t sure how Gray would be slotted back into the rotation, noting that it would depend on how quickly he recovers.

Chris Bassitt was called up from Triple-A Nashville to take Gray’s start, and infielder Max Muncy was optioned.

Elsewhere, just an off day for outfielder Josh Reddick against a left-handed starter. He’s available, and will start on Wednesday.


Melvin pushes Gray as strong candidate for All-Star start, sees Vogt and Reddick as worthy of inclusion on AL roster

Sonny Gray should be a strong candidate to start All-Star Game, manager Bob Melvin says.

Sonny Gray should be a strong candidate to start All-Star Game, manager Bob Melvin says.

When Major League Commissioner Rob Manfred stopped by the Coliseum Friday, he said that even with fans in Kansas City making a strong effort to stack the vote for the All-Star Game, he was satisfied for the most part with the selection process for the mid-summer showcase.

A’s manager Bob Melvin agrees with that, but as the manager of a last-place team with at least three men he sees as potential All-Stars – catcher Stephen Vogt, starter Sonny Gray and right fielder Josh Reddick – he also realizes the system isn’t the A’s friend.

Teams with the worst record in the league traditionally have trouble getting multiple representatives. Even teams better than dead last have problems, In the eight seasons between 2005 and 2012, the A’s had more than one player on the team just once.

Continue Reading


Hahn going back to roots in San Diego, complete with his bat

Jesse Hahn faces the Padres Monday, the team that traded him to the A's this off-season.

Jesse Hahn faces the Padres Monday, the team that traded him to the A’s this off-season.

Jesse Hahn will tell you off the top he’s not the world’s greatest hitter.

The statistics would tend to support the A’s right-handers assertion. He’s come to the plate 24 times in the big leagues, and half the time he’s struck out. His batting average? Just .091.

For a couple of weeks now he’s been carrying around a bat, off-and-on, trying to hone his skills. When he starts Monday against the San Diego Padres in Petco Park, he’ll be the first A’s pitcher to swing a bat this season at the start of Oakland’s first interleague road series of the season.

Continue Reading


Kazmir on board with A’s decision to lift him from start, now

Scott Kazmir said it was the right decision for A's to lift him from his start Wednesday for precautionary reasons. He'll miss one start while his shoulder rests.

Scott Kazmir said it was the right decision for A’s to lift him from his start Wednesday for precautionary reasons. He’ll miss one start while his shoulder rests.

Scott Kazmir said he argued to be allowed to stay in Wednesday’s game against the Tigers.

The left-handed starter was feeling shoulder pain, however, and he was overruled and removed after three hitless, scoreless innings in which he walked three and struck out four.

Kazmir will be skipped in the rotation on Monday, which is a travel day for the A’s as they head to Detroit, and then should rejoin the rotation a week from Saturday in Boston. And he has no problem with having been told Wednesday his day was done early.

“Yeah, as a competitor you want to stay in the game,’’ Kazmir said Thursday. “But it ended up being a smart move, being cautious.’’

Continue Reading


Ken Korach makes his 2015 broadcast debut

Ken Korach was back on the air for the A's for the first time this season on Monday.

Ken Korach was back on the air for the A’s for the first time this season on Monday.

OAKLAND — Ken Korach was back at the O.co Coliseum on Monday and back on the air.

The A’s lead radio announcer, in his 20th season with the team, has missed the first 46 games while recovering from an injury to his artificial left knee.

Korach was expected to meet with the A’s medical team to evaluate his progress. He was back in the broadcast booth and took over the play-by-play duties for the third inning.

Korach’s return is not on a full-time basis yet, but he will call the occasional game while he continues to return to full health.


A’s stuck on repeat in sixth straight loss, turn to golf for help

Late night at the Coliseum, so you’re getting my writethru that I filed (this one won’t appear in your morning newspapers), with one extra note.

Dustin Pedroia crosses home plate for the Red Sox first run of the night in theier 5-4 win over the A's, giving Oakland six straight losses. (Staff photo/D. Ross Cameron)

Dustin Pedroia crosses home plate for the Red Sox first run of the night in theier 5-4 win over the A’s, giving Oakland six straight losses. (Staff photo/D. Ross Cameron)

The A’s are stuck on repeat.

Oakland lost its sixth straight game when Pablo Sandoval returned to the Bay Area and hit a solo home run in the 11th inning to propel the Boston Red Sox to a 5-4 win.

It was a night that felt all too familiar for the A’s, who dropped to 0-6 in extra-inning games, 1-11 in one-run games and watched their maligned bullpen blow another lead.

“It’s the same story here,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s getting tough to explain. It seems like we’ve played this same game so many times this year.”

Oakland’s 32-year-old rookie Angel Castro surrendered the blast to Sandoval on an 0-2 pitch that was up and on the inner half of the strike zone and right in Sandoval’s hit-me zone. Continue Reading


Crisp expected to rejoin the A’s some time on this trip

Coco Crisp is getting two days of batting practice and two games in Stockton, then A's will judge if he's ready to go.

Coco Crisp is getting two days of batting practice and two games in Stockton, then A’s will judge if he’s ready to go.

Coco Crisp could join the A’s as early as Wednesday or Thursday under the plan of action prescribed for Crisp as he continues his rehabilitation from right elbow surgery.

The left fielder, who has not played a game this year and only got in about a dozen at-bats before the injury cut his spring training short, is in Stockton this weekend. He’ll take batting practice Friday and Saturday, then play in games Sunday and Monday.

Tuesday’s a day off.

“We’ll see where we are Wednesday and Thursday,’’ manager Bob Melvin said before the first game of the A’s three-city road trip to Texas, Minnesota and Seattle.

Continue Reading


A’s-Angels postgame: Home, afternoon woes continue; Chavez not using illness as an excuse

Pitcher Jesse Chavez is one of the A’s that isn’t feeling 100 percent right now. He’s a little “under the weather” as manager Bob Melvin said.

But Chavez was hardly using that as an excuse for his uneven starting performance in Thursday’s 6-5 loss to the Angels.

“Physically I feel fine, that’s not an excuse. You still have to go and get outs regardless of how you feel,” Chavez said. “You’re arm’s not working or anything is ailing you, then it’s still not an excuse. It’s just a little bug, but what are you going to do?”

In another spot start, Chavez allowed seven hits and four earned runs in five innings Thursday, to go with five strikeouts. The Angels did most of their damage in the fifth inning, as Kole Calhoun singled to score two runs. David Freese then grounded into a fielder’s choice to score Mike Trout from third and give the Angels a 4-0 lead.

In Chavez’ last start against the Angels on April 23, Calhoun hit a two-run homer, the only hit Chavez allowed in six innings in what was a 2-0 loss to the Halos.

“I tried to make a couple pitches and unfortunately, they got a little bit too much of the plate and found a little bit too much of a hole to get through,” Chavez said. “On the bright side, I didn’t see the outfielder’s numbers or the names on the back of their jerseys, so it wasn’t a matter of me leaving the ball over the plate too much. They didn’t put too good a swings on it, it was just they put enough on it.”

Continue Reading