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A’s injury tsunami threatening to engulf 2016 season

Eric Sogard is having trouble believing the A's injury woes just aren't slowing down.

Eric Sogard is having trouble believing the A’s injury woes just aren’t slowing down.

The good news for the A’s is that catcher Stephen Vogt, after being hit hard by a pitch on the right wrist Friday, is only expected to miss one game.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said the veteran hopes to be in the lineup for Sunday’s series finale with the Yankees.

The bad news is, as second baseman Eric Sogard puts it, “there are too many guys joining me on the list.’’ That would be the disabled list, where the A’s have a dozen injured players – half a major league roster – parked.

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A’s options to replace Josh Reddick in lineup limited

Josh Reddick is lost to the A's for 4-6 weeks after fracturing his left thumb.

Josh Reddick is lost to the A’s for 4-6 weeks after fracturing his left thumb.

It’s time for the A’s pain train to call it a day.

One quarter of the way into the season the A’s use of the disabled list is already more than half of 2015’s DL numbers.

When Josh Reddick goes on the DL Friday, the A’s will have used to the DH 13 times and 12 of the 13 will still be in the trainer’s room.

The A’s have spent a lot of time the last few years talking about the need for versatility and depth. They began the spring with what they hoped were plenty of both, but things are beginning to sour.

The options for the A’s heading into Friday, when Reddick will officially go on the disabled list.

Max Muncy, called up earlier this week, could play right field. He’s a left-handed hitter with a little power and good on-base numbers. Oakland has been grooming him to play some third base, but he has spent half his season so far in the outfield and – mark this down – has a decent throwing arm.

Or Coco Crisp could play center field full time with Billy Burns shifting from center to right. Burns is not a natural right fielder. He played one game there earlier this year, on Sunday when he got in eight innings with Reddick getting the day off. But he has taken some fly balls there and could make a go of it. His arm isn’t great, but it’ll do.

Or Crisp or Khris Davis could move to right. This is not a great option for the A’s in that neither has a strong throwing arm and right field is a position where a strong throwing arm is a major asset.

The A’s will call up either Andrew Lambo or Jake Smolinski to take Reddick’s place on the roster. Smolinski has better numbers, but Lambo is a left-hander with power, and maybe the A’s can run into a bit of luck with him the way they did with Brandon Moss a few years ago.

Luck? That doesn’t sound much like the 2016 A’s.

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Liam Hendriks likes the look of current A’s bullpen

A's Liam Hendriks has been slow to recover from elbow injury, but he likes what he sees from rest of bullpen.

A’s Liam Hendriks has been slow to recover from elbow injury, but he likes what he sees from rest of bullpen.

Liam Hendriks’ right elbow isn’t responding to treatment as quickly as Hendriks and the A’s had hoped.

As it happens, though, that’s all right, because as Hendriks puts it “the way the bullpen is going right now, they’re not exactly missing me.’’

In the last six games entering Thursday’s start of the series with the Yankees, A’s relievers have allowed just four earned runs in their last 16.1 innings, a 2.20 ERA that has corresponded with the A’s winning five of those six.

It wasn’t always thus, however. When Hendriks went to the disabled list with what he calls a pinch in his right triceps on May 8, both he and the A’s pen as a whole were in trouble. Hendriks had gotten off to a terrible start to the season with an 8.27 ERA in 11 games.

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Danny Valencia dubs Davis kHRis after home run binge

Khris Davis has had his name altered slightly to kHRis by teammate Danny Valencia after May homer outburst.

Khris Davis has had his name altered slightly to kHRis by teammate Danny Valencia after May homer outburst.

When Danny Valencia tweeted out a salute to Khris Davis after Davis’ three-homer game Tuesday that included a walkoff grand slam, he had a little fun with it.

Valencia made Davis’ first name all lower case, except for the HR. Or kHRis. It’s not BillyBall or the Bash Brothers, but it’s not bad and maybe good enough to wind up on a T-shirt.

Davis, who homered again Wednesday in the A’s 8-1 win over the Rangers, leads the Major Leagues with 10 May home runs. Nine of his dozen total homers have come in left field, making him the most prolific left fielder in the majors to this point.

And there are still 12 games left in the month.

“I’m sure other people have done it, but I never saw it before,’’ Valencia said of the spelling alteration. “I just made it up. He’s been hitting the ball out like nobody else.’’

Davis said he’d never seen his name printed out quite like that, but he liked it.

“That’s him swagging,’’ Davis said of Valencia. “That’s him being creative. He’s cool.’’

There has been lots of swagging going on with Davis and Valencia of late. Davis leads the Major Leagues with 10 May homers, including four in the last two days. Valencia was on the DL when the month started, but in the nine games since he’s been back, he’s averaging .455 while hitting six homers and driving in a dozen runs.

Much of that has been done against left-handed pitching, which is new for the A’s. A year ago, Oakland was 15-32 against left-handed starting pitchers. This year the A’s are 5-4. Three-quarters of the season remain, but that’s already a good turnaround.

Davis, who says “I’m very locked in,’’ likes having being packaged with Valencia in the middle of the lineup.

“It puts pressure on the defense,’’ he said. “We feed off each other, big time. There’s a lot of momentum there. We’re wearing pitchers down, taking bullets out of their arms. He’s an aggressive hitter, and he’s on a roll. He’s been doing a great job.’’

Valencia has been blown away by the upsurge in power from the middle of the lineup this month.

“KD has been amazing,’’ Valencia said. “And he’s been a lot of fun to watch. People don’t realize how difficult it is to do. We all know how hard this game is, and for him to do what he’s doing, it’s pretty special. And you can’t take it for granted, because you don’t see it too often.’’

On Sunday Valencia had three homers in a game against the Rays. Two days later, it was Davis’ turn to go deep three times.

“It’s pretty crazy how quickly they happened within each other,’’ Valencia said. “It’s been a lot of fun to be part of, and it’s been a lot of fun to watch.’’

 

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Henderson Alvarez MRI inconclusive, but he feels OK; Dr. James Andrews will get next chance to decipher MRI

Henderson Alvarez status is up in the air after MRI on shoulder comes back inconclusive.

Henderson Alvarez status is up in the air after MRI on shoulder comes back inconclusive.

The A’s are putting the return of Henderson Alvarez on hold after an MRI of the right-handed starter’s shoulder didn’t tell the medics exactly what was going on.

“We got the MRI back, but it was inconclusive,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “So we’re going to send the MRI to Andrews, who did his surgery. And then we are going to treat him asymptomatically.’’

Shoulder specialist Dr. James Andrews should get back to the A’s in a day or two with his conclusions about the MRI.

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Will Khris Davis jumper after slam rile Rangers?

Khris Davis put on a show after his walkoff grand slam Tuesday. Will Rangers be offended?

Khris Davis put on a show after his walkoff grand slam Tuesday. Will Rangers be offended?

If you watched the journey Khris Davis took from batter’s box to home plate in the ninth inning Tuesday, you saw something that is new to Davis and the A’s.

With about 15 feet left on his journey down the third base line with the entire A’s roster massed at the plate, Davis took his batting helmet and took a Steph Curry-like jumper with the helmet.

He got good elevation with his jumper and good arc on the helmet.

“I’ve had that in the back of my head since like last year,’’ Davis said. “And I finally got the chance to do it. I wasn’t going to miss it. It was a swish, by the way.’’

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A’s Mark Canha out for the season; hip surgery up next

Mark Canha is out for the season after opting for season-ending hip surgery that comes with a six-month recovery period.

Mark Canha is out for the season after opting for season-ending hip surgery that comes with a six-month recovery period.

The season is over for A’s outfielder/first baseman Mark Canha, who will have surgery on his left hip next Tuesday.

“It’s over,’’ Canha said of his 2016 season. Recovery from the surgery typically takes six months, so he said he’s just glad that he’ll have plenty of time past the six months to get prepared for the 2017 season.

Canha sought out a second opinion from Dr. Marc Phillippon in Vail, Colo. before opting to have the surgery. But even before receiving the suggestion that surgery was the way to go, he was leaning in that direction. He’d had hip and back problems dating to the final days of the 2015 season and he wasn’t at all sure a cortisone shot would accomplish what he needed it to.

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Rougned Odor punch brings memories for Sean Doolittle

The punch that Texas’ Rougned Odor threw to smack Toronto’s Jose Bautista was the highlight of all the Sunday highlight shows.

It ignited a classic baseball brawl that took the umpiring crew about 10 minutes to restore order in Arlington, Texas.

And Odor, who didn’t talk after landing the punch Sunday, said Monday that while “I know I’m going to be suspended for a couple of games,’’ he also seemed to suggest it was all in a day’s work.

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Henderson Alvarez’s addition to rotation this week on hold; Jesse Hahn likely to get start Tuesday vs. Rangers

Jesse Hahn is likely to get the call to start for A's Tuesday vs. Rangers.

Jesse Hahn is likely to get the call to start for A’s Tuesday vs. Rangers.

The A’s plans to move Henderson Alvarez into the starting rotation later this week are on hold and Jesse Hahn is on his way back to Oakland.

The A’s lifted Alvarez, a 2014 National League All-Star while pitching with the Marlins, after five innings in what was supposed to be his final injury rehabilitation start Sunday with Triple-A Nashville. He felt his right shoulder, which underwent surgery last July, tighten up a bit.

Alvarez was due to meet with A’s doctors Monday evening with the possibility that an MRI was in his immediate future. Oakland had been pointing to his activation during a four-game weekend series against the Yankees, but that won’t happen.

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A’s Jesse Hahn surprised, disappointed to be sent down; rainout, doubleheader are factors with club making change

Jesse Hahn got the news he as being sent back to Triple-A for the short term.

Jesse Hahn got the news he as being sent back to Triple-A for the short term.

A’s starter Jesse Hahn was taken by surprise when told he was being sent back down to Triple-A Nashville.

Oakland called up reliever J.B. Wendelken, who was due to arrive at Camden Yards just before the first pitch Sunday afternoon.

Hahn, the losing pitcher in Saturday’s Game 2 with Baltimore claiming a 5-2 win, had only made two starts , and in the first he didn’t allow a run.

It was the weather and the A’s schedule that conspired against Hahn. He and Rich Hill are both due to pitch in five days, which is an off-day Thursday while Oakland is between the Boston and Tampa Bay on this road trip.

“Mostly it’s due to the fact we’re going to need a starter before Jesse pitches again,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “The rain threw us for a little loop that way. It happens during the course of a season. And we need another arm for today. You can always use an extra arm after a doubleheader.

Hill, who has been on a nice roll, will be held back one day to pitch Friday in Tampa, and if Hahn was kept around, he’d wind up going on six days’ rest next Saturday. The A’s want to keep him going on as regular a schedule as possible, and that worked again Hahn sticking around for the moment.

“I didn’t ask too many questions, but I’m sure the doubleheader had something to do with it,’’ Hahn said. “Obviously I’m not happy about it, but all I can do is keep my head high and hope that the next time I’m here I stick.’’

Meanwhile the A’s still need a starting pitcher for Wednesday, a game that would have belonged to Hill had not Friday’s game been rained out. Left-hander Eric Surkamp remains by far the most likely candidate. The 6-foot-5 veteran made four April starts before being sent down with an 0-2 record, 5.59 ERA and 1.914 WHIP.

The A’s have ruled out inserting right-hander Henderson Alvarez in to the Wednesday slot. On his way back from last July’s shoulder surgery, Alvarez is down to make two more minor league starts, and the A’s aren’t willing to change that.

“We aren’t going to rush him, as much as we liked like to have him back here,’’ Melvin said of Alvarez, a 2014 All-Star while pitching with the Marlins. “There’ll be at least two more rehab starts.’’

 

NOTES

–Wendelken is likely up for just three days and will be sent back to Nashville when the A’s call up Surkamp to make Wednesday’s start. Melvin said it was good to have an extra reliever a day after a doubleheader, but the A’s bullpen is mostly rested.

–Khris Davis got a day off in part because Melvin is looking for ways to get Mark Canha in the lineup. Canha had a big year for the A’s as a rookie with 16 homers and 70 RBI. But he was playing three-quarters of the time in 2015. The current season has seen him play in just 15 of the A’s first 31 games, and only eight of those have been starts. “It’s tough have as quality a player as Mark Canha is sitting around for this long,’’ Melvin said. “He’s a guy who can be impactful for us, and we need to find some games for him.’’

–When Jarrod Parker starts his injury rehabilitation a little later this summer, he may do it in Nashville rather than at the A’s facilities in Arizona. Parker has spent the bulk of the last three seasons since his 2013 Tommy John surgery in Arizona and Melvin said “I think he might be a little tired of that.’’ Parker has recently seen the surgeon who operated on his arm in the spring, Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Melvin said he believed Parker was now out of the post-surgery brace his right arm had been in.