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Clippard uses day off Thursday to master Pebble Beach; A’s closer shoots a 72 to cross historic course off bucket list

Tyler Clippard used his off-day Thursday to shoot a 72 at Pebble Beach

Tyler Clippard used his off-day Thursday to shoot a 72 at Pebble Beach

Pro golf may have missed a good thing when Tyler Clippard opted for baseball as a career.

Clippard, who has been playing golf “since I was 9,’’ used Thursday’s day off to head toward Monterey to give Pebble Beach a test. He shot an even-par 72, not bad for someone who basically just walked in off the street to one of the world’s great golf courses.

“I always thought about being a golfer,’’ Clippard said. “In high school, I only played baseball for a year and a half. I played golf all four years.’’

So what happened? Clippard was 5-foot-7 as a sophomore, but was 6-foot-1 as a junior, and his fastball got exponentially better as part of his growth spurt. His fastball accelerated as he grew, and Clippard, now 6-foot-3, has a 1.69 ERA while working as the A’s closer while waiting for Sean Doolittle to come off the disabled list.

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Samardzija happy to be with White Sox, but a little disappointed A’s didn’t keep roster together for 2015

Jeff Samardzija says A's would have been a force in 2015 if the team had been held together.

Jeff Samardzija says A’s would have been a force in 2015 if the team had been held together.

Jeff Samardzija came back to the Coliseum as a member of the Chicago White Sox Friday, his first visit since the 2014 season ended with Samardzija due to pitch Game 1 of the American League Division Series for the A’s, a game that never happened.

With Oakland holding a 7-3 lead in the eighth inning and an 8-7 lead in the 12th inning in Kansas City, the A’s couldn’t hold off the Royals in the Wild Card game. That ended Oakland’s season.

And if you think injuries are costing the A’s now, Samardzija said losing catcher Geovany Soto, now a teammate with the White Sox, in the second inning and center fielder Coco Crisp late in the game cost the A’s a trip to the World Series.

“If we win that game, there’s no doubt in my mind we’re going to the Series,’’ Samardzija said. “The momentum going to the winner of that game was something else.’’

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The defensive play he didn’t make grinds at Crisp a little

Coco Crisp loves to play defense, and he was a little bummed out at the one play he didn't make Wednesday.

Coco Crisp loves to play defense, and he was a little bummed out at the one play he didn’t make Wednesday.

At 35, Coco Crisp has as much experience as any player on the A’s roster, but he said it was his lack of experience that led to the first Boston run scoring Wednesday in a painful 2-0 Oakland loss.

Crisp made a couple of diving catches in left and left-center and brought an 0-for-26 streak to an end with an infield hit.

After the game, however, he focused not on the catches he made, but on the catch he didn’t make. It was a pop fly hit by Daniel Nava in the second inning, a pop fly down the left-field line in no-man’s land, too deep for third baseman Brett Lawrie, too shallow for Crisp.

Except Crisp didn’t think it was too shallow. He said his move from center field, where he’s played most of his career, to left field this year, left him unsure of his positioning vis-à-vis Lawrie and the ball.

He says he’s mostly settled in as a left fielder – Sam Fuld and Billy Burns are handling center – but “there was a play today that if I felt I was extremely comfortable, I would have made that play.’’

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Zobrist will be brought along slowly by A’s from DL

Ben Zobrist says he's feeling good and is more anxious than ever to get back on the field with the A's.

Ben Zobrist says he’s feeling good and is more anxious than ever to get back on the field with the A’s.

Ben Zobrist is thrilled at how well his left knee is responding to the surgery that put him on the disabled list.

He says he feels close to being able to come back, but the A’s are cautioning him not to race back into the lineup. The A’s leave Sunday for a trip to Houston and Tampa Bay, and while “I’d really like to be on that trip toward the end,’’ Zobrist says it may not happen.

He’s due to go out on an injury rehabilitation assignment Monday, probably with Class-A Stockton, then probably will make the jump to Triple-A Nashville before getting the green light to rejoin the A’s.

Standard recovery time for a repaired meniscus tear is 4-6 weeks, and the Tampa Bay series would be right at four weeks. So while the A’s are pleased with Zobrist’s quick recovery – he was doing zig-zag sprints under the guidance of strength and conditioning coach Mike Henriques before Wednesday’s game and he’s taking batting practice – they are also being cautious.

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It’s Vogt’s `double daddy strength’ vs. Reddick’s best start

Stephen Vogt and Josh Reddick are in a friendly competition for the A's homer and RBI lead.

Stephen Vogt and Josh Reddick are in a friendly competition for the A’s homer and RBI lead.

Josh Reddick and Stephen Vogt have a little competition going. They want to do battle for the A’s home run and RBI leadership this season.

It’s Vogt in the lead at this point with nine homers, including a two-run shot in the first inning of Tuesday’s 9-2 win over Boston, and 30 RBIs, the best in the American League. The nine homers match his single-season best with more than three quarters of the season to go.

Reddick is holding his own with six homers, including a solo blast leading off the third inning, and his three RBIs has him at 25 for the season.

And Reddick, whose average sits at .346 after a four-hit game Tuesday, missed the first week of the season or the right fielder’s power numbers might be closer to Vogt, who is averaging .337.

“This is probably the best I’ve swung the bat for the longest period of time in my life in professional baseball,’’ Reddick said. And Vogt has been great all year. You don’t see that kind of production from catchers now. You expect catchers to hit 260, 270 and call a really good game.

“He’s doing both of those things right now. The damage he’s causing at the plate is just what we needed in the heart of our lineup. It was only a couple of days ago we challenged each other for the most home runs and most RBIs, that’s one of the things we keep joking about every time one of us drives somebody in. It makes for a very fun game, as long as we do our job and put some `W’s on the board.’’

Asked where all his power comes from, Vogt just breaks into a grin.

“ I’m 30 now I have two kids,’’ he said. “I have double daddy strength, I don’t know. I’m getting some good pitches to hit and I think they say power is the last tool to come. To be honest, I don’t know where the power is coming from.’’

But he has some ideas. He’s been working with hitting coach Darren Bush to swing down on the ball and to drive it as hard as he can. Most of his homers are to the exact same spot in the right field bleachers, whether home or road.

“Swinging down on the ball has to be it,’’ Vogt said. “You don’t hit home runs when you try to hit them up. Home runs are line drives you get a little extra on. I’m not trying to do anything other than see the ball and hit it hard down on the ground.’’

And even if it costs Reddick the team home run title, the right fielder doesn’t want to see any changes.

“He’s got me in the homers section right now,’’ Reddick said. “I don’t want to see him cool down. He’s fun to watch.’’

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A’s add much-needed pregame defensive workout

Marcus Semien's defense has been a problem for the A's, but the club as a whole has not been good making even routine plays.

Marcus Semien’s defense has been a problem for the A’s, but the club as a whole has not been good making even routine plays.

The A’s moved their time on the field around Tuesday to address their defensive issues.

For about 20 minutes, infielders and outfielders got extra work with a phalanx of A’s coaches and instructors, including Hall of Fame outfielder Rickey Henderson guiding them through it before the start of batting practice.

Like all clubs, the A’s get in defensive work daily during batting practice, but manager Bob Melvin looked at the A’s defensive struggles and decided it would be prudent to focus strictly on defense for a spell, much as they would in spring training.

The numbers are bad. Oakland has committed 34 errors in 34 games, a total that is seven more than any team in the Major Leagues and a number that is not sustainable for a team with ambitions of being competitive in the American League West this year.

In each of the last nine games, the A’s have erred at least once, a total of 13 errors. That would be a terrible total in a T-ball league.

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Parker will see orthopedic specialist Andrews Monday; Doolittle will start rehab with Class-A Stockton Thursday

Jarrod Parker will meet with Dr. James Andrews Monday to determine the extent of his medial epicondyle fracture.

Jarrod Parker will meet with Dr. James Andrews Monday to determine the extent of his medial epicondyle fracture.

Jarrod Parker will visit with orthopedist Dr. James Andrews on Monday as he attempts to determine how much damage his elbow sustained when the fractured his medial epicondyle while throwing a pitch Friday in Nashville.

Parker, who was figured to be about 10 days away from coming off the disabled list and joining the A’s at the time of the injury, will travel from his home in Arizona to meet with the Birmingham, Ala.-based Andrews.

The A’s don’t know if the grafted ligament replacement in Parker’s right arm from his second Tommy John surgery is still intact. The medial epicondyle is one of the bones the Tommy John surgery replacement ligaments are anchored to.

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A’s stuck on repeat in sixth straight loss, turn to golf for help

Late night at the Coliseum, so you’re getting my writethru that I filed (this one won’t appear in your morning newspapers), with one extra note.

Dustin Pedroia crosses home plate for the Red Sox first run of the night in theier 5-4 win over the A's, giving Oakland six straight losses. (Staff photo/D. Ross Cameron)

Dustin Pedroia crosses home plate for the Red Sox first run of the night in theier 5-4 win over the A’s, giving Oakland six straight losses. (Staff photo/D. Ross Cameron)

The A’s are stuck on repeat.

Oakland lost its sixth straight game when Pablo Sandoval returned to the Bay Area and hit a solo home run in the 11th inning to propel the Boston Red Sox to a 5-4 win.

It was a night that felt all too familiar for the A’s, who dropped to 0-6 in extra-inning games, 1-11 in one-run games and watched their maligned bullpen blow another lead.

“It’s the same story here,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s getting tough to explain. It seems like we’ve played this same game so many times this year.”

Oakland’s 32-year-old rookie Angel Castro surrendered the blast to Sandoval on an 0-2 pitch that was up and on the inner half of the strike zone and right in Sandoval’s hit-me zone. Continue Reading

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Doolittle ready for a rehab assignment, no updates on Parker or Griffin

Sean Doolittle faced live hitters for the second time Monday and his next step will be a minor league rehab appearance.

Sean Doolittle faced live hitters for the second time Monday and his next step will be a minor league rehab appearance.

OAKLAND — The A’s are back home after a miserable road trip that concluded with a three-game sweep in Seattle and are looking for any slivers of good news.

There might be at least one. All-Star closer Sean Doolittle threw to live hitters for the second time Monday. The session went well and his next step is a rehabilitation assignment.

“Really happy with how things went,” said Doolittle, out with a strained left rotator cuff. “I feel like I was able to move the ball around and changed speeds, changed eye level, move the fastball up and down around the zone. Really excited about it.”

A’s manager Bob Melvin confirmed that Doolittle’s next session will come in a rehab assignment, although the date and location hasn’t been determined. Continue Reading

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Nolin’s role could expand quickly with A’s pitching issues

Just a week ago, it seemed like Sean Nolin would have to wait in line to join the A’s starting rotation after he got healthy.

With the news that Jarrod Parker has been shut down after suffering a fractured medial epicondyle and that another recovering Tommy John starting pitcher, A.J. Griffin, has developed some shoulder pain, Nolin’s path to a spot in the A’s rotation could be expedited.

He’s coming back from a sports hernia surgery from this off-season. Saturday he pitched two innings in relief for Triple-A Nashville, and the next time out he’ll get a start.

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