Danny Valencia is making his mark quickly with the A’s as a cleanup hitter.
For the third day running, Danny Valencia is the A’s cleanup hitter Sunday, not bad for a hitter that Toronto had to jettison in their mad dash to rework their roster at the trade deadline.
And for the second day running, Valencia is in the lineup while Billy Butler isn’t.
The cleanup hitter thing may stick, although Butler isn’t in danger of losing his DH job, manager Bob Melvin said.
“He’s got an opportunity, and he’s taken advantage of it,’’ Melvin said of Valencia. “We’ve won a couple of games, and we’ll leave him there for the time being.’’
Valencia, claimed on waivers from Toronto Monday, has started three of the last four games, has hit safely in all three games and as the cleanup hitter has been a hit – four-for-seven with a double, a homer and three RBI.
Butler, meanwhile, is 9-for-55 (.164) with no homers and three RBI over his last 17 games. For the season he’s at .239 with nine homers and 47 RBI, not the production Oakland was hoping for when signing him to a three-year contract as a free agent this off-season.
“It’s the last couple of days I wanted Valencia to DH yesterday and Vogt needs a day off his feet today with a day off tomorrow. So (Butler) is just not in the lineup the next couple of days, but he’ll continue to be in the lineup.’’
There is at least a chance that Valencia will return Tuesday to Toronto, where the A’s will make the first stop of their upcoming seven-game road trip, as the A’s regular third baseman.
Eric Sogard has been losing some playing time with Valencia having made three starts at third and Brett Lawrie moving to second base, taking playing time away from Sogard. At the same time, Melvin is in position to use Sogard some at shortstop to give Marcus Semien some time off, Semien having played in all but one of Oakland’s games this season.
–The A’s have a tough road trip coming up, and not just because they play Toronto and Baltimore, the two teams who are pushing the Yankees in the quest to win the AL East title.
There are three games with the Blue Jays first, played in Rogers Centre, which has artificial turf that is tough on the body.
That’s followed with four games in Baltimore, including a Monday night game to end the trip followed by a late-night flight back to Oakland and a Tuesday night game against the Dodgers that will be a tough turnaround, especially with Los Angeles have a day off Monday.
Melvin said he would use his roster liberally, giving days off to Coco Crisp and Lawrie, among others, to keep the turf from having too much of an impact.
There’s not too much he can do about the Baltimore schedule fiasco, however. He won’t pretend it’s not a problem.
“That’s tough. I don’t know how we are playing a night game there on a Monday,’’ Melvin said. “But that’s the way it is. We come back here, get in late, play a night game, then a day game.
“The scheduling for me, especially for AL West teams, is awful. Look at Baltimore. They came out here, took care of playing all three West Coast teams and doesn’t have to come out here again. This division has it tough.’’
This is the fourth trip this season into the Eastern time zone for the A’s, something that is an issue for the Mariners and Angels as well.
The National League West has similar problems, one reason the Giants’ players brought scheduling up as a concern when they talked to Commissioner Rob Manfred earlier this season.
–Left fielder Coco Crisp, who came out of the Saturday game apparently with a bad reaction to some medicine, was feeling better Saturday night and was good to go in center fielder Sunday.
–Closer Sean Doolittle will leave Monday to fly to Iowa, where he will continue his injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville. Doolittle, who threw a bullpen session before Sunday’s game, will pitch Tuesday and could throw in several games as he tests his left shoulder to see if it’s ready for a return to the big leagues. Melvin said it’s possible Doolittle, who has only pitched in one big league game this season, could be back with the club sometime on the next homestand.
–The A’s won’t use the day off to change the pitching rotation, so all the Oakland starters will get an extra day off before their next games.