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Sonny Gray can’t fight his way out of the wilderness

 

Sonny Gray, a Cy Young candidate last year, continues to have his troubles for A's in 2016.

Sonny Gray, a Cy Young candidate last year, continues to have his troubles for A’s in 2016.

The A’s starting pitching has been in a funk all year, and the man at the head of the class, Sonny Gray, continues to struggle in ways he’s never struggled before.

Gray was hammered for seven runs in five innings Thursday and other than one swing from center fielder Jake Smolinski the A’s offense was nowhere to be found in a series-opening 7-3 loss to Tampa Bay.

From the time he came up midway through 2013 through the end of the 2015 seasons, Gray had started 74 times for the A’s and had allowed seven runs just twice. He’s made 18 starts this year, and Thursday was the fourth time he’s allowed seven runs in a game.

His confidence, he says remains good. But this season has taken a toll.

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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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Josh Reddick sad extension with A’s hasn’t worked out

Josh Reddick disappointed the A's and he haven't come to terms on a contract extension.

Josh Reddick disappointed the A’s and he haven’t come to terms on a contract extension.

Josh Reddick does what he can to not pay much attention to trade rumors like the ones hitting the internet Thursday suggesting the Cubs are interesting in picking up the right fielder from the A’s before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

There one thing that has caught his attention, however. There has been no progress between his agents and the A’s front office, apparently deadlocked between the A’s offer of a three-year contract extension and Reddick’s desire for a four-year package.

He calls he situation “disheartening.”

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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 playing waiting game with Rich Hill; pickle juice to the rescue?

The A's are still waiting for a more firm timeline on Rich Hill, who left Sunday's start with a blister.

The A’s are still waiting for a more firm timeline on Rich Hill, who left Sunday’s start with a blister.

The A’s are continuing to play the waiting game with Rich Hill and the blister on his finger that caused him to exit Sunday’s start after just five pitches.

“It’s too early to tell,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said Tuesday about his left-hander. “We thought he didn’t have an issue obviously when he went out to pitch and then, it was the fifth pitch that it actually came open. Probably a little more careful with it right now. It’s probably going to be a few days before we have any kind of inclination of when he’s going to play catch and then potentially start again.”

The A’s remain hopeful that Hill can avoid the disabled list, but are uncertain. At this point, the hope is to get the skin to dry up enough to possibly shave down some of the blister and then strengthen the skin. Continue Reading

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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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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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Dillon Overton ready for a second crack at A’s rotation

Lefty Dillon Overton returns to the A's rotation Tuesday against Houston.

Lefty Dillon Overton returns to the A’s rotation Tuesday against Houston.

Dillon Overton will be coming off a long break to jump back into the A’s starting rotation Tuesday against the Astros.

The A’s rookie lefty had been preparing for a Monday start for Triple-A Nashville, but his ticket to Oakland got punched when Rich Hill came out of his Sunday start after throwing just five pitches thanks to a blister. Tuesday’s original starter, Sean Manaea, wound up throwing five innings of relief against the Blue Jays.

The Nashville Sounds were just getting back from the Triple-A All-Star break, so Overton said he had only thrown a pair of bullpen sessions in the last week when he got the word Sunday he was Oakland-bound.

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The pain of it all: Rich Hill sidelined by blister, replacement Andrew Triggs takes liner off leg, so Sean Manaea in for A’s

 Rich Hill came out of Sunday's start after just five pitches when his blister problems returned.

Rich Hill came out of Sunday’s start after just five pitches when his blister problems returned.

The curious saga of Rich Hill took a strange twist Sunday when he was lifted from his start against the Blue Jays after having thrown just five pitches.

The A’s had held Hill out of a scheduled start Friday because of a blister, and he’d thrown a hard bullpen session that day without any problem from the blister. But on a 3-1 pitch to Devon Travis that was fouled off, the blister cropped back up again.

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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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