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Zobrist returns from the D.L., Doolittle back Tuesday and Cespedes returns to the Coliseum

Ben Zobrist is back from the disabled list. He's not in the the lineup Monday, but is available off the bench and will start Tuesday.

Ben Zobrist is back from the disabled list. He’s not in the the lineup Monday, but is available off the bench and will start Tuesday.

OAKLAND — The A’s activated second basemen/outfielder Ben Zobrist on Monday, a day shy of four weeks since he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

Zobrist isn’t in the lineup on Memorial Day to face the Detroit Tigers, but manager Bob Melvin said he’s available off the bench and will start Tuesday.

The timing of his return marks a bright spot for an A’s team finally seeing some on the field after winning consecutive games Saturday and Sunday for just the second time all year.

The timeline initially for Zobrist’s recovery was 4-6 weeks, so he was certainly pleased to already make his return.

“I felt like it was a pretty quick recovery,” Zobrist said. Continue Reading

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Burns fills in nicely at top of order while A’s are without Coco

Billy Burns glides by third base coach after leading off Sunday's game with his first big league homer.

Billy Burns glides by third base coach after leading off Sunday’s game with his first big league homer.

The A’s don’t have Coco Crisp, and depending on how his neck problems go, it may be quite a while until they get him back.

The A’s are hoping that’s not the case, but the club seems to have found a reasonable substitute. Rookie Billy Burns not only delivered his first big league home run in the A’s 7-2 win Sunday in Tampa to extend the Oakland winning streak to two games, but had two more hits and has been a nice find at the top of the lineup.

He’s hitting .309 overall, .304 in the leadoff spot, and he has a .333 on-base percentage at the top as well. Crisp, whose career leadoff numbers of .258 and .324, is still a man the A’s badly want back healthy and leading their charge, but they have to like what Burns has given them.

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Left field seems likely landing point as Zobrist comes off DL

Ben Zobrist may wind up in left field rather than at second base when he returns to active duty Monday.

Ben Zobrist may wind up in left field rather than at second base when he returns to active duty Monday.

Ben Zobrist comes off the disabled list Monday, will he move back into his old job at second base, or will he get asked to play in left field?

The A’s originally sought him out to be their second baseman, but his versatility was high on Oakland’s list of desirable attributes. And with Coco Crisp on the disabled list, the greater need seems to in left field.

Second baseman Eric Sogard is a steady defensive player who has been on an offensive surge. Coming into Sunday, he’d gone 21-for-66 in his previous 18 games, a .318 average.

Meanwhile the three candidates in left field all have struggled.

Mark Canha, who has made 18 starts in left, brought a career-worst 0-for-20 skid to an end Saturday and is 3-for-41 (.073) in 15 games heading into Sunday.

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Fuld sniffs the sweet smell of success, but needs to repeat it

Sam Fuld combined with Eric Sogard to give the A's hits with runners in scoring position Saturday, something sorely lacking with the A's of late.

Sam Fuld combined with Eric Sogard to give the A’s hits with runners in scoring position Saturday, something sorely lacking with the A’s of late.

Sam Fuld has been around long enough that he knows what a slump feels like.

The 33-year-old left fielder even knows what it feels like to know what it feels like to come out of one. That is one reason his sanity, baseball style, remains mostly intact.

And while it’s too early to say that Fuld’s month-long skid is over, for one day he had an outcome that left him smiling at the end of the day.

On the sixth inning Saturday, he was up against a left-handed pitcher with the game in the balance. Eric Sogard’s single had given the A’s a 1-0 lead, and now Fuld was up with the bases loaded.

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A’s more than ready to welcome back Zobrist to lineup

Ben Zobrist. his left knee sound a month out from surgery, should be activated Monday.

Ben Zobrist. his left knee sound a month out from surgery, should be activated Monday.

In the last week Oakland’s presence on the disable list has swollen from seven to 11 players with Ike Davis, Drew Pomeranz, Edward Mujica and Coco Crisp jumping on the bandwagon on Sunday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Now, however, the A’s are thinking they might start mining the disabled list for a talent upgrade over the course of the next week.

First up will be second baseman/outfielder Ben Zobrist, who will DH for Nashville Saturday in Fresno and play second base on Sunday, then be in Oakland and, presumably, in the starting lineup Monday afternoon for a Memorial Day game against the Tigers.

He’s been primarily a second baseman for the A’s, but with Crisp missing from the outfield and with Eric Sogard having a good run of late at second base, Zobrist could return playing left field. All three of the men who would otherwise be in the mix are in slumps. Coming into Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay, Mark Canha is in a 2-for-39 (.051) skid, Craig Gentry is 3-for-38 (.079) for the year and Sam Fuld is 4-for-52 (.077 in his last 22 games).

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Washington back in the saddle teaching baseball

Four hours before the first pitch, Ron Washington was once again back on the field, doing what he does best, teaching baseball.

The newest old member of the A’s organization was working with shortstop Marcus Semien, whose 16 errors in the first 43 games of the season have set off alarm bells. Washington was hitting grounders, but he was talking about mindset, too.

“This kid is going to be fine,’’ the former Texas manager said just hours into his return to big league baseball. `This sport is all about rhythm, and was Marcus and Gags (third base coach Mike Gallego) and me have to do is to find his rhythm. Once he does that, things will be fine.’’

Washington worked for the A’s from 1996-2006, most of that as the third base coach and infield coach, and he got a reputation as someone who would work ferociously to help bring out the best defensive abilities an infielder had. Eric Chavez, Miguel Tejada and Mark Ellis all swear by Washington’s work.

“Marcus isn’t the first player to go through this,’’ Washington said. “And he won’t be the last to get through it, either. He’s got all the talent it takes. Just by watching him and talking to him today I can see that.’’

Washington resigned from the Rangers last September after admitting to infidelity to his wife. He needed the time to work on his family life. His family “is great now, really great,’’ but he was missing baseball in the worst way.

So when A’s general manager Billy Beane came calling offering a job to work with the A’s infield defense, with a special focus on Semien, Washington was ready and grateful the A’s reached out to him.

“Resigning was right for me at the time,’’ Washington said. “The thing is, I need baseball. I know that. I was just hoping that baseball needed me a little. Baseball has survived for all this time without me, but I was good to know there was room for me, because this is what I do.’’

Washington said he wasn’t thinking of managing again and isn’t here to be a third base-coach-in-waiting with Gallego having had a stretch of bad decisions and bad luck of late.

“Hey, I had those, too,’’ Washington said. “People think coaches are perfect, but they’re not. I had streaks where I couldn’t do anything right. Then all of a sudden, you get one in-between call that goes your way and you’re back in the saddle again. Gags will be fine.

“And managing again is the furthest thing from my mind. I’m here to help the A’s and Marcus Semien.’’

After his first session with Washington, Semien was impressed.

“He’s got a lot of energy and passion,’’ Semien said. “It’s going to be good.’’

 

NOTES

–Kendall Graveman was with the club Friday; he’ll start Saturday’s game. He said that going to Nashville after starting the season with Oakland was good for him. “I was able to locate my fastball on the corners and down,’’ he said. “And I was able to create more separation between the fastball and the changeup. Before the change was about 85 mph, so there was only about a 6 mph difference. Now I’ve got the change down to about 81 mph.’’

–There hasn’t been any baseball activity yet for Ike Davis, on the disabled list with a quad injury. Melvin said that when the team returns home Monday “we’ll have a better idea when he’ll start doing some things.’’

–Semien got a day off, both because he played more than anyone else on the roster with just one non-start all season and because he had the long first workout with Washington.

–Ben Zobrist is due back with the A’s on Monday, coming off the disabled list about a month after knee surgery. When he does, there’s a strong chance he’ll be in the outfield rather than at second base. The A’s have brought up another infielder, Andy Parrino, who started for Semien Friday, and if Coco Crisp goes on the disabled list as expected Saturday to make room for Graveman, the A’s will need the outfield help. Zobrist was due to play left fielder for Triple-A Nashville in Fresno Friday, be the DH for the Sounds Saturday and play second base Sunday.

–The A’s got Parrino on the roster by placing reliever Edward Mujica on the disabled list with a minor fracture of his right thumb. Both the pitcher and the team are optimistic his time on the DL will be brief.

 

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No surgery for Coco Crisp as he heads to disabled list; long-term, rest and rehab remain his ticket to playing

Coco Crisp won't have surgery to relieve disc pressure in his neck. He could go on DL as soon as Saturday, although no decision has yet been made..

Coco Crisp won’t have surgery to relieve disc pressure in his neck. He could go on DL as soon as Saturday, although no decision has yet been made..

There will be no neck surgery for A’s left fielder Coco Crisp, the rationale being basic — surgery would end his career.

There’s no telling when Crisp will be able to play again, the A’s putting him on the disabled list after Friday’s 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay, making room for Saturday’s starting pitcher Kendall Graveman on the active roster.

The recipe for Crisp, who will join the team in the Bay Area next week, to follow will be the same as it was last year, rest and rehabilitation.

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Mujica to DL with a fractured thumb, Parrino recalled

The A’s made another roster move Friday, putting right-handed reliever Edward Mujica on the disabled list while recalling infielder Andy Parrino from Triple-A Nashville.

Both moves had been expected with Mujica suffering a minor thumb fracture when hit by a line drive hit by Tampa Bay’s Bobby Wilson Thursday night. To make room on the roster for Parrino on the 40-man roster, infielder Tyler Ladendorf, recovering from left ankle surgery, was moved to the 60-day disabled list.

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Failure to tag up properly haunts Burns after 3-0 loss to Rays

Billy Burns has been one of the A's better hitters of late, but he was upset with himself after failing to properly tag up in the first inning Thursday.

Billy Burns has been one of the A’s better hitters of late, but he was upset with himself after failing to properly tag up in the first inning Thursday.

Billy Burns wanted that first run Thursday in the worst way.

He didn’t get it, also in the worst way.

The A’s center fielder opened the game with a triple and had a chance to score and give Oakland a 1-0 lead when Marcus Semien, quietly one of the A’s most reliable offensive performers with many of the hitters slumping, delivered a deep-enough fly ball.

In his haste, Burns broke for the plate too quickly, meaning he had to go back and tag up. By the time he did, he reckoned that he would not be able to score – he probably still could have – but he stayed put.

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Semien, Gallego look forward to working with Washington

Marcus Semien says he's looking forward to working in tandem with Mike Gallego and incoming coach Ron Washington, who arrives Friday.

Marcus Semien says he’s looking forward to working in tandem with Mike Gallego and incoming coach Ron Washington, who arrives Friday.

Ron Washington did lots of good helping the A’s infield be the best it could be during an 11-year stint with Oakland that ended after the 2006 season, when he took a job managing the Texas Rangers.

With the A’s in a defensive rut and shortstop Marcus Semien in particular having made 16 errors in Oakland’s first 42 games, the club decided it was time to make a move to address the problem of a Major League-worst 44 errors committed as a team by reaching out to Washington, who will join the team as a coach Friday and stay on for the rest of the season.

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