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Ken Korach back as the A’s radio voice, but for how long?

Ken Korach, the radio voice of the A’s for 20 seasons, was scheduled to move back behind the microphone on 95.7 The Game, the A’s flagship station for the first time Friday night for Oakland-Minnesota second-half opener.

Korach has been hobbled by pain in his left knee, which he has been rehabbing since suffering an off-season injury. He isn’t pain free, but with the A’s schedule keeping the team in the Bay Area for most of the next three weeks, he, his doctors and the A’s decided to see how it goes.

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Kazmir lifted after three innings with triceps tightness

A’s left-handed starter Scott Kazmir left Wednesday night’s start against the Yankees after three innings with what the team described as left triceps tightness.

Kazmir, who came into the start holding down the sixth-best ERA in the American League at 2.56, is the focus of not just the A’s but of many contending Major League clubs. Although the last-place A’s haven’t said he’s available, with the trade deadline coming up July 31 and Kazmir’s contract with Oakland up at the end of the year, the assumption is that he’s available for the right deal.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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Lawrie expects weekend series with Royals to be “just a baseball series”

This slide by Brett Lawrie fueled a heated series in April between the A's and Kansas City Royals, but Lawrie expects the series that resumes Friday to Oakland to be "just a baseball series."  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

This slide by Brett Lawrie fueled a heated series in April between the A’s and Kansas City Royals, but Lawrie expects the series that resumes Friday to Oakland to be “just a baseball series.” (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Everybody remembers the last time the A’s took on the Kansas City Royals.

Rather than a fine rematch of the American League Wild Card game, the series deteriorated into a string of bean balls and hot tensions. Royals pitcher Kelvin Herrera earned a five-game suspension for throwing at A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie, who was the target of the Royals’ ire after his slide into second base injured the Royals’ Alcides Escobar. Here’s some old reading if you want to rehash a little of it.  Continue Reading

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Vogt’s elbow “feels great”; he’s playing 1B Wednesday, will be back catching Thursday

Stephen Vogt is back in the lineup and says his elbow "feels great." (Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group)

Stephen Vogt is back in the lineup and says his elbow “feels great.” (Susan Tripp Pollard/Bay Area News Group)

Stephen Vogt is back in the lineup Wednesday, as expected, and is playing first base. He said his elbow felt great after doing some early hitting in the cage and his cortisone shot from Sunday appears to be doing the trick.

“It’s been bothering me for about a month,” Vogt said. “Hopefully this shot will take care of it. We’ll have to see how it feels tomorrow catching.”

The plan is for Vogt to be back behind the plate for Thursday’s day game series finale here in Texas. He said his left elbow issue has been more bothersome while catching, although he did also feel it at times while hitting. But he hopes it’s a thing of the past. Continue Reading

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Vogt out after cortisone shot, Venditte could be throwing by end of the week

Stephen Vogt is out of the lineup Tuesday after getting a cortisone shot in his left elbow. ( (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Stephen Vogt is out of the lineup Tuesday after getting a cortisone shot in his left elbow. ( (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

A’s catcher Stephen Vogt had a cortisone shot in his left elbow and is not in the lineup Tuesday for the opener of a brief three-game road trip to Texas.

Vogt had the cortisone shot on Sunday to relieve what was diagnosed as “tennis elbow” and manager Bob Melvin expects him to be in the lineup Wednesday night against the Rangers. His availability to pinch-hit Tuesday will be determined based on how Vogt feels once the game is underway.

“He’s been dealing with it,” Melvin said of the elbow. “I think once he gets into the batter’s box, he doesn’t think too much about it. Yet, there’s some days that it’s worse than others. Some swings are worse than others.” Continue Reading

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Ron Washington returns to Texas, tells Rangers fans “I love them”

IMG_5758ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Ron Washington was greeted everywhere he went Tuesday when he returned to the stadium where he managed for eight years.

“I parked in the parking lot upstairs and the fans greeted me coming in, then the security guards and all the guys riding around through the tunnel on the carts,” Washington said, “and then I finally made it to the clubhouse.”

Cameras followed Washington as he worked with infielders early before Tuesday’s A’s game with the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park. It’s the first time Washington, now an A’s coach, has been back at his former home stadium since resigning in September 2014 citing personal issues that he later revealed involved infidelity. Continue Reading

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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.

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