Zobrist’s ailing left knee to be tested on field Thursday

Ben Zobrist will need to be able to do more of this with his left knee before he can return to A's lineup.

Ben Zobrist will need to be able to do more of this with his left knee before he can return to A’s lineup.

Ben Zobrist took some swings in the batting cage and stretched with his A’s teammates Wednesday and said he felt no pain but a little discomfort in his left knee, injured in a slide Sunday in Kansas City.

The prime test for Zobrist will be Thursday, when he will run the bases, do some work in the field and take batting practice. If the knee, which had a cortisone injection Monday night, responds well, he could play this weekend in Oakland against Houston.

In the background remains the possibility of some sort of arthroscopic surgery if the knee doesn’t respond as hoped. But Zobrist was feeling hopeful that he’d be back soon.

Continue Reading


A’s to call up Arnold Leon to beef up a depleted bullpen

The A’s have made a move to help a weary bullpen, promoting minor league starter Arnold Leon from Triple-A Nashville.

Leon was called up for a day last year, but he has never thrown a pitch in a Major League game.

The move has not been officially announced, but Leon is expected to join the club in Anaheim for Wednesday’s game against the Angels. It’s expected that to make room for Leon, the A’s will send down R.J. Alvarez, threw 48 pitches and gave up seven runs, six earned while getting just three outs Tuesday.

Continue Reading


Tuesday night: Ike Davis provides solace on a long night

It was that kind of day for the A's, Drew Pomeranz lifted in teh sixth inning in 14-1 loss to Angels.

It was that kind of day for the A’s, Drew Pomeranz lifted in teh sixth inning in 14-1 loss to Angels.

A day that started with old business from the weekend series in Kansas City being eradicated ended with a debacle of a 14-1 loss for the A’s against the Angels, but first baseman Ike Davis somehow made it all a little worthwhile.

Davis, a pitcher in college at Arizona State in 2007 and the son of former big league reliever Ron Davis, volunteered to pitch the eighth inning to save wear and tear on the Oakland bullpen.

He needed just nine pitches to get three ground ball outs. And a post-game that could have trended toward the glum side was instead enlivened by pitchers and hitters both gathering around the video replay area in the clubhouse to break down just what kind of game Davis brings when he steps on the mound.

“I’d pitched in college; I knew I could probably throw strikes,’’ Davis said. “I threw harder in college, but it was fun. And it’s not fair to put one of our pitchers out there in a game like that.’’

Continue Reading


A’s probably need to send Alvarez down to bring up fresh arm

R.J. Alvarez

R.J. Alvarez

Until Tuesday, R.J. Alvarez had done reasonable well as a middle-inning reliever for the A’s.

Alvarez, picked up with Jesse Hahn from the Padres in the trade of catcher Derek Norris this off-season, had pitched five innings in five games for Oakland. He’d been dinged for a pair of homers, but not much else.

But Wednesday morning he’s likely to get dinged again. Work probably will come that he’s being sent to Triple-A Nashville so that the A’s can bring up a fresh arm, probably Chris Bassitt, who pitched Saturday for the Sounds and threw 4.2 innings in relief.

Continue Reading


Vogt gets a rare start against a left-hander in Santiago

Stephen Vogt has had lots to celebrate at the plate this month for A's. Tuesday, he starts against a lefty for the first time.

Stephen Vogt has had lots to celebrate at the plate this month for A’s. Tuesday, he starts against a lefty for the first time.

Neither Stephen Vogt or any of his teammates was particularly surprised to see Vogt, a lefty, get his first start of the season against a left-handed pitcher, in this case the Angels Hector Santiago, Tuesday.

As we discussed in this space last night addressing the strong possibility of this move, Vogt has been the A’s hottest hitter, having the club’s best numbers in batting average (.366), homers (four) and RBIs (12).

What he hasn’t done is play anywhere but catcher. Manager Bob Melvin moved him in at first base, a position he played 45 times last year when he was injured and couldn’t get behind the plate.

Continue Reading


Lawrie takes news of Herrera’s 5-game suspension in stride

Brett Lawrie was hit by this pitch from #Royals Yordano Ventura Saturday, and Ventura got an undisclosed fine Tuesday.

Brett Lawrie was hit by this pitch from Royals Yordano Ventura Saturday, and Ventura got an undisclosed fine Tuesday.

Much in the manner in which he walked to first base after being hit by a 99-mph fastball from the Royals’ Yordano Ventura Saturday, A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie took in stride the news of the fine handed Ventura and the suspension given Kelvin Herrera.

Herrera was given five days for throwing a fastball behind Lawrie in the eighth inning Sunday mostly for getting too close to Lawrie’s head, although the fact that he yelled at Lawrie and tapped the side of his head in a threatening manner didn’t help.

Although Ventura hit Lawrie a day after Lawrie slid into Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar, he was only given an undisclosed fine because Ventura hit Lawrie in the elbow, an area where baseball traditionally gives more leeway.

In saying that the suspension of Herrera wasn’t up to him, Lawrie said he believed the reliever got what he deserved. And he said he expects no carryover in the late June series when the Royals visit Oakland.

“They’ll be watched closely,’’ Lawrie said. “If it happens again, the penalty will be 10 times what it was this time.’’

Some of Lawrie’s teammates took a harder line.

“It’s not my call, but if someone truly threatens someone else, then the suspension should be more than five games,’’ catcher Stephen Vogt said. “I think what he got was a little light.’’

Right fielder Josh Reddick said “7-10 games would make more sense.’’

“Five games for a reliever isn’t that much,’’ Reddick said. “That’s maybe two or three appearances. And with the lineup they have over there, many they wouldn’t need to use him at all in five games. For me, it had to be definitely at least 10 games for Herrera.’’

What Lawrie did do was to take on the Kansas City fans for their part in what he called “probably the worst baseball series I’ve ever been a part of … that wasn’t baseball.’’

“Shame on their fans for antagonizing everything that went on there,’’ he said.

And he said the one thing the Royals, who had six uniformed personnel ejected in the series, have done in the early weeks of the season is to open the eyes of people around the Major Leagues.

“There are a lot of people that have been watching the way that team (plays),’’ Lawrie said. “I think they definitely have a star on their back.’’

Lawrie said that he talked to Angels’ first baseman Albert Pujols while he was on first Monday and got a pep talk from the three-time MVP.

“He said `you were just playing the game hard,’ ’’ Lawrie said, talking about the slide Friday not that got the Royals so riled. “And the Royals did some bush league stuff.”

Lawrie said “in retrospect, I wouldn’t do anything different. This isn’t the UFC. We’re trying to win baseball games.’’

That included Lawrie himself, who took the heater from Ventura and just walked to first base while Ventura was busy getting ejected.

“I was never going to give them what they wanted,’’ Lawrie said, saying it would do the A’s no good to start a fight where there might be multiple ejections and possible injuries. “I hope people look and see I took the high road.’’


Herrera suspension, if appealed, could hurt A’s just a little

Yordano Ventura, being escorted off the field by umpire Greg Gibson, is likely to hear  the words "you're suspended" soon,

Yordano Ventura, being escorted off the field by umpire Greg Gibson, got an undiscled fine from MLB Tuesday. 


Major League Baseball handed down a five-game suspension Tuesday to Kansas City Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera for throwing behind A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie Sunday and fined K.C. starter Yordano Ventura and undisclosed amount for hitting Lawrie a day earlier.

Both could appeal the disciplinary charges levied against them.

None of the A’s were disciplined by MLB’s front office.

It was Ventura who threw a pitch at Lawrie, catching the A’s third baseman in the left elbow Saturday, a day after Lawrie’s slide into Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar infuriated the Royals.

And it was Herrera who threw his best fastball behind Lawrie Sunday, a day after the A’s believed the Royals had been given sufficient satisfaction with the Ventura heater hitting Lawrie.

Continue Reading


A’s considering giving Vogt a start against a lefty Tuesday

Stephen Vogt and third base coach Mike Gallego are seeing plenty of each other these days with Vogt on a rampage.

Stephen Vogt and third base coach Mike Gallego are seeing plenty of each other these days with Vogt on a rampage.

Don’t be surprised if you see Stephen Vogt’s name in the A’s lineup Tuesday, even though Oakland is facing a left-handed pitcher in Hector Santiago.

Vogt, a left-handed hitter, seldom hits against lefties, but manager Bob Melvin is at least considering it with Vogt having three homers, two doubles and a single in his last three starts.

He won’t catch, though. Melvin is already concerned that backup Josh Phegley isn’t getting enough work to get by with the A’s having seen just one lefty in the last week. So Phegley will be the catcher.

It’s possible Vogt could be the DH, where he was six times last year, but that would move Billy Butler out of the lineup and all Butler has done this year is hit safely in 13 out of 14 games, including getting a single, double and walk in Monday’s 6-3 win over the Angels.

Butler is hitting .365. If he comes out of the lineup, with No. 3 hitter Ben Zobrist already out for a few days with knee problems, Melvin is left to scramble to put together the middle of the lineup.

The option that makes the most sense would be to have Vogt play first base. Ike Davis, a lefty himself, also doesn’t start often against left-handers, and he’s something of a defensive Mozart at first. But Melvin said he was considering giving Vogt a start at first, where he is an adequate defender.

Vogt made 45 appearances there last season when injuries wouldn’t let him get behind the plate.

It’s also possible that Vogt could DH and Butler could move to first base, because the plan coming in was that Butler would be the first baseman when facing lefties. Mark Canha, a right-hander, got off to a furiously good start, though, so he’s moved in as the first baseman against lefties.

Canha slumped a bit after a hot first 10 days, and had hits both Sunday and Monday. Still, he’s 3-for-18 of late, fiving Melvin reason to look for options.

Now that Vogt is healthy, with an equally healthy .366 batting average, four homers and a dozen RBIs, he’s the team’s early offensive leader. There might not be a better time to get Vogt, who started six times against lefties last year, in the lineup against a southpaw than now.


A’s will skip Hahn one turn in rotation to let his blister heal

Jesse Hahn threw 51 innings before a blister shut him down Saturday; now he'll be skipped a start to let the blister heal.

Jesse Hahn threw 5.1 innings before a blister shut him down Saturday; now he’ll be skipped a start to let the blister heal.

The A’s will skip starting pitcher Jesse Hahn one turn in the rotation to see if they can deal with the blister that forced him out of Saturday’s game.

Jesse Chavez, who threw the last 3.2 innings of a 5-0 win in Kansas City in relief of Hahn Saturday, will get the start Thursday in the finale of this 10-game, 11-day road trip.

“The blister looks better today than I thought it would,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “But we want to make sure that he puts this behind him. We’ll have him skip a turn, then see where he fits in.’’

Once the A’s decide Hahn, 1-1 with a 2.12 ERA in three starts, is ready to return, they will have to fit him in around the day off the club has on April 27 between home series against the Astros and the Angels.

Continue Reading


Zobrist injury doesn’t appear serious, but he will miss time

Second baseman Ben Zobrist won't be able to plant and throw for at few days at least after suffering a knee injury.

Second baseman Ben Zobrist won’t be able to plant and throw for at few days at least after a left knee injury.

Ben Zobrist isn’t in the starting lineup Monday and probably won’t be for a few days more, but the left knee injury the A’s second baseman suffered Sunday in Kansas City isn’t as bad as it could be.

At least he doesn’t believe it is based on a similar injury that sidelined him in the early days of his career in the Houston organization, the year before he was traded to Tampa Bay. That time he suffered a torn cartilage, and there is no evidence of a repeat this time through.

“I was playing for Salem and I hurt my knee with a slide, like this,’’ Zobrist said Monday. But then, I couldn’t walk for a week. Today, I can walk just fine. After that season was over, I had surgery. I haven’t had anything like this since then.’’

Zobrist had an MRI Monday morning, after which he said he was told “my ligaments are perfect,’’ and suspicion fell on the bone-jarring nature of the slide for the pain. The A’s will give him a cortisone shot Monday evening and he’ll be out at least until Thursday. Not great, but better than it looked when he was taken out of the game mid-fifth inning.

Continue Reading