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Canha takes his movie line knowledge to a wider audience

Mark Canha, who quoted "Bull Durham" in a post-game interview last week, got some national exposure Wednesday on MLB Network's Intentional Talk.

Mark Canha, who quoted “Bull Durham” in a post-game interview last week, got some national exposure Wednesday on MLB Network’s Intentional Talk.

Mark Canha came into the A’s clubhouse about three hours before Wednesday’s game started and shook his head.

“I don’t know how it went,’’ Canha said.

The Oakland rookie utility player had just been on the field taping a segment for MLB Network’s Intentional Talk. They’d been drawn in both by Canha’s hot start (11 hits in his first six games, including a homer) and by his paraphrase of some lines from Kevin Costner in “Bull Durham’’ to the media after his first game.

He’d gone three-for-five with two doubles and four RBIs last Wednesday, just barely missing a grand slam for his first big league hit. When he talked about the game afterward, he never broke stride in recreating Costner as Crash Davis giving advice to Tim Robbins’ Nuke LaLoosh character on how to be as bland as possible with the media:

“I’m just trying to help the ball club,’’ Canha said. “And, uh, I’ll give it my best shot, and the good lord willing, things will work out.”

The actual Costner lines run like this:

“We gotta play ‘em one day at a time.’’

“I’m just happy to be here. Hope I can help the ball club.’’

“I just wanna give it my best shot and, the good lord willing, things will work out.’’

So, not bad.

After the clip of the Canha interview was played, the first baseman/outfielder was hit with a pair of movie quotes, one from the “The Sandlot,’’ the other from “The Natural,’’ and he correctly identified both.

Canha watched his performance in the clubhouse with his teammates, got plenty of positive feedback, then headed out of the room.

“I guess that wasn’t too bad,’’ he said.

Costner was at Monday’s game in Houston, but Canha didn’t find out about it until later, so there was no chance to compare acting techniques.

 

NOTES

–Second baseman/outfielder Ben Zobrist got his first day off of the season Wednesday thanks to some heel pain that has been dogging him for a couple of days now. Manager Bob Melvin said he liked the thought of Zobrist being able to combine Wednesday with Thursday’s scheduled off day to give the right heel time to heal.

–Josh Reddick stepped into Zobrist’s role as the No. 3 hitter. Reddick didn’t bat third last year and had just 14 games there in 2013, but in his career he’s actually batted third for 147 starts, 30 more than in any other spot in the batting order. He has a .234 average batting third.

–Sean Doolittle seems to be making some progress toward getting back on a mound after missing all spring with strained left rotator cuff. Melvin was effusive in talking about Doolittle throwing pain free from 105 feet, his best result to date.

–Melvin said the difference in lefty reliever Eric O’Flaherty from last year to this is clear now that he’s fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. O’Flaherty gave the A’s 1.2 innings of relief Tuesday and was available if needed to pitch Wednesday.

–Center fielder Sam Fuld has five multiple-hit games already, second-best in that category in the Major Leagues so far.

–Billy Butler’s nine-game hitting streak coming into Wednesday ties him for the best-ever streak to start an A’s career. Alfredo Griffin also hit in nine consecutive games when he joined the A’s in 1985.

–The century club: The A’s four shutouts in the first nine games is just the fourth time in MLB history that’s been accomplished, the first time in 105 years. The 1910 White Sox were the last team to do it.

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Reddick’s slick glovework keeps Astros quiet

Josh Reddick was more than a little upset with himself for dropping a fly ball that probably would have given the A’s a win over Seattle Sunday in Oakland. 

Josh Reddick on the run to steal extra bases in eighth inning from Astros' Evan Gattis.

Josh Reddick on the run to steal extra bases in eighth inning from Astros’ Evan Gattis.

The Oakland right fielder got some payback in the eighth inning Tuesday with a pair of running catches that turned what could have been a monster inning for Houston into nothing more than a slight bump in the road.

With one out and the A’s up 3-0, Evan Gattis hit what he hoped would be a solo homer, but Reddick raced into the right field corner to catch the ball up against the wall.

Oakland reliever Dan Otero gave up a couple of singles after that, so manager Bob Melvin went to Fernando Abad in an effort to get the inning’s final out.

Jason Castro hit a rocket off Abad, but again Reddick was able to run the ball down, ending the inning. That was essentially it for the Astros offense on the night as the A’s got their fourth shutout in nine games.

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Fuld’s acrobatic catch has A’s marveling at his defensive skills

Sam Fuld's eyes never lost the ball on this catch in right-center against the Astros Monday night.

Sam Fuld’s eyes never lost the ball on this catch in right-center against the Astros Monday night.

The A’s defense has had its share of issues the first eight games of the season, but there have also been some highlight film candidates, including Sam Fuld’s full-stretch dive in right-center to end the fifth inning Monday in Houston.

It saved a run and it saved right fielder Josh Reddick from kicking himself.

“I thought that was my ball,’’ Reddick said of Jake Marisnick’s rope into the gap with a man on second base. “it was very impressive to see what Sam did on that play. I didn’t get a good break on it, but he did; he always gets a good jump.’’

Manager Bob Melvin said he assumed the ball wouldn’t be caught, but if it was, it would have been Reddick to catch it.

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The long and short of it is that Canha’s having a fine start: Vogt’s ankle OK; Melvin sticks with same lineup third time

Mark Canha is hitting in luck -- both good and bad -- to start his MLB career.

Mark Canha is hitting in luck — both good and bad — to start his MLB career.

Mark Canha is a sports fan, follows the Sharks, the Warriors and the 49ers, but mostly he’s a baseball fan.

Monday night he got a reminder why baseball appeals to him so much, something about the sheer unpredictability of it.

Batting to lead off the third inning, he got on top of a ball that dribbled about three feet in front of the plate. He dropped his bat, started running and the A’s left fielder found himself at first base with a single.

Two innings later, he came up with one out and one on and simply crushed a ball, hitting it about as hard as he could, which in the case of the San Jose product out of Cal is on the upper levels of crushing. This time he didn’t make it out of the batter’s box. No need. The ball was hit on a line to third base where the Astros’ Luis Valbuena caught it.

“That’s just the way baseball goes,’’ Canha said Tuesday. “You get a hit on one in front of the plate like that, then you sting one and get nothing.

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Kazmir fights off moisture, calf cramps en route to 2nd win

Scott Kazmir survive a moist, sometimes slick mound at Minute Maid Park to beat the Astros 8-1 Monday.

Scott Kazmir survive a moist, sometimes slick mound at Minute Maid Park to beat the Astros 8-1 Monday.

Talk about a slippery slope.

Scott Kazmir was born in Houston, still lives in the area and yet was completely baffled by the pitching mounds at Minute Maid Park Monday night, likely a product of the mega-humid Houston weather.

“It started in the bullpen and was the same on the field,’’ Kazmir said. “The mounds felt wet. I don’t know why. But I had real trouble in the pen and in the first inning.’’

Bullpens generally are groomed and groomed and groomed again to get the right feel, a feel that includes no moisture. That made Monday more than a tad odd for the lefty starter.

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Astros’ Lowrie not particularly surprised not to be with A’s, but he loved his two `awesome’ years playing with Oakland

Shortstop Jed Lowrie has traded green-and-gold for Astros orange in 2015.

Shortstop Jed Lowrie has traded green-and-gold for Astros orange in 2015.

Jed Lowrie made no secret last October of his hope that the A’s would keep the core from the 2013-14 A’s together in Oakland.

Coming off three consecutive post-season appearances, the A’s did no such thing. Proof lies in Lawrie’s new job as the Astros shortstop. He got Monday night off after Houston played a 14-inning game Sunday, his sixth game in the season’s opening week.

“It’s not like I ever sat down with Billy Beane to talk about it,’’ Lawrie said. “So it’s not for me to say about what the A’s did. But it’s more than a little strange to look at them now, because they’ve had so much turnover.

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Trouble signs from the bullpen for a second straight day could portend a longer-term problem

I’d have to go back and check, but I don’t know that the A’s bullpen gave up two three-run homers all year in 2014. Maybe, probably, but back-to-back days like we saw Saturday and Sunday? Doubtful. And of the six home runs allowed by the pitching staff over the first seven games, five of them have been hit off the relief corps. That’s not good.

Of all the trouble signs that emerged over the weekend in two dispiriting extra-inning losses to the Seattle Mariners, the performance of the bullpen is perhaps the most disturbing.

“We’re better than that,” said manager Bob Melvin.

But are they? Think about it. The A’s are without their closer, Sean Doolittle, whose return from a shoulder injury is still sketchy. Before Sunday’s game, Melvin said he didn’t know when Doolittle would get on a mound, and he offered up late May as a guess-timate regarding his return, but he wasn’t really basing it on any hard and fast evidence. If there’s still a shoulder tear in there, even a small one, the A’s have to brace for the possibility that even if Doolittle does return on the late-May timetable, there will be a question if that shoulder can hold up.

Last year’s two primary set-up men, Luke Gregerson and Ryan Cook, aren’t here. Gregerson left via free agency and Cook is in the minors trying to figure out some serious mechanical issues.

Hence, everyone else is being pushed back into roles where they may not be quite as comfortable. Tyler Clippard, a very good setup man in Washington, is closing. Eric O’Flaherty and Dan Otero are pitching later in the game than they normally do, and in O’Flaherty’s case, even though he is in his second season following Tommy John surgery, he still isn’t showing the kind of explosive stuff he possessed that he had in Atlanta before the injury.

Fernando Abad, a situational lefty, is being asked to pitch to lefties and righties. Evan Scribner couldn’t make this bullpen a year ago, and R.J. Alvarez is a hard-throwing young guy who is just getting his feet wet as a major-leaguer. Jesse Chavez is the long guy, probably more suited to starting than relieving, but he may be pressed into seventh- and eighth-inning service if the problems continue.

So right now, it’s tough to say they’re “better than that.” Maybe better than what we’ve seen so far, but perhaps not good enough without Doolittle and an effective Cook.

The A’s had bullpen issues out of the gate last season, mostly with Jim Johnson, but Melvin and Co. were able to work around Johnson because of the depth of the pen. That depth isn’t there this year, nor is the experience or the quality. After a week, you have to give this group the benefit of the doubt that they can, as Clippard said, “clean some things up.”

We’ll learn more on this upcoming road trip, for sure.

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M’s break hitless streak against Abad to pull this one out

A's lefty Fernando Abad had a rare spot of trouble against lefty hitters in Saturday's 5-1, 11-inning loss.

A’s lefty Fernando Abad had a rare spot of trouble against lefty hitters in Saturday’s 5-1, 11-inning loss.

The A’s don’t often take Fernando Abad out of what they see as his comfort zone.

The left-handed reliever is the club’s situational lefty, as often as not brought into a game to face the opponent’s best left-handed hitter(s). As such, he doesn’t get extended much.

In 2014, he only pitched more than one inning in six of his 69 games.

The A’s were willing to throw away the book on Abad Saturday and have him pitch the 11th inning after he’d already thrown a scoreless 10th.

It made sense at the time. There were three left-handed hitters due up, Logan Morrison, Dustin Ackley and Brad Miller. Not only did the A’s not have another lefty available to face those three, Abad had never allowed a hit to any of them.

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Gray not at the top of his game, but still competitive

Sonny Gray was a little under the weather Saturday, but still gave the A's a chance to win by pitching into eighth inning.

Sonny Gray was a little under the weather Saturday, but still gave the A’s a chance to win by pitching into eighth inning.

Sonny Gray wasn’t close to being at the top of his game Saturday against the Seattle Mariners.

Certainly the A’s starter wasn’t able to summon the pitches that saw him throw a one-hitter for eight innings against Texas.

There seems to be some kind of bug going through the A’s clubhouse, and Gray is the latest to come down with it. He could feel warming up “that this one was going to be a grind,’’ he said.

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It’s all about socks appeal for A’s starter Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray is all about stripes with his socks so far this season.

Sonny Gray is all about stripes with his socks so far this season.

For the second time in as many starts Saturday. A’s starting pitcher Sonny Gray began Saturday pitching with his pants rolled up to the knees and green socks with gold stripes showing.

For that you can blame Eric Sogard. Sort of.

The Oakland second baseman came to spring training in Arizona with several different styles of green socks with gold stripes.

“Sonny saw them at my locker and said he’d like some,’’ Sogard said, “So I let him pick some out.’’

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