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A’s Stephen Vogt, Fernando Rodriguez take Yanks’ legs away

Stephen Vogt has a smile on his face again after throwing Jacoby Ellsbury out.

Stephen Vogt has a smile on his face again after throwing Jacoby Ellsbury out.

Stephen Vogt has been off to a mostly good start to the season, but he hadn’t thrown out a runner trying to steal second, and he wasn’t keen on that.

The Yankees knew the numbers, and they put one of the game’s better base stealers, Jacoby Ellsbury in to test him in the ninth inning. The game was tied at 2-all and if Ellsbury could make it from first base to second base, there was no telling how the game would turn out.

A’s reliever Fernando Rodriguez used to be a snap to steal against, and that would have been a problem for Vogt. But Rodriguez has worked on his slide-step move to keep the runner at first base close, and he has cut his delivery time down to a peppy 1.1 seconds.

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A’s bullpen bulletproof as one-run wins mount up

Fernando Rodriguez pitched two scoreless innings for the win over New York Tuesday.

Fernando Rodriguez pitched two scoreless innings for the win over New York Tuesday.

There were stories in all the New York papers Tuesday about the Yankees bullpen and the clout it carried.

The Yankee bullpen was just one of two in Yankee Stadium last night, and based on what happened, the runner up. The A’s bullpen was bulletproof again, one reason the A’s were able to ring up another one-run win.

You could see a case for the praise of the Yankee relievers. Closer Andrew Miller had struck out the last seven men he’d faced in order. Setup man Dellin Betances had struck out eight consecutive men and 14 of 15.

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A’s Mark Canha having trouble finding much playing time

Mark Canha isn't getting much of a chance to celebrate or do much else on the field in the early weeks of the A's season.

Mark Canha isn’t getting much of a chance to celebrate or do much else on the field in the early weeks of the A’s season.

As an unknown quantity last year, then-rookie Mark Canha wasn’t supposed to play much. He wound up getting some early chances and capitalized.

Canha is a known quantity this time around with 16 homers, 70 RBI and a slash line of .254/.315/.426 as Rule 5 pickup. He was supposed to get a big contributor, but that’s not how it’s worked.

He played in 10 of the A’s first 13 games a year ago, but in only four of the first 13 this time around and in just one of the last nine. And he was on the bench again Tuesday as the A’s opened a 10-game road trip in Yankee Stadium.

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A’s Ryan Dull turns new-look changeup into a nothing pitch – no hits, walks, runs or inherited men scoring; just nothing

Ryan Dull's addition of a consistent changeup has him putting up all zeros against AL hitters.

Ryan Dull’s addition of a consistent changeup has him putting up all zeros against AL hitters.

Ryan Dull has reconnected with a long-lost friend. It’s his changeup.

Dull has been one of the many bright spots in a bullpen that has flexed muscle for the A’s during the first two weeks of the season. He’s opened the season with seven consecutive hitless games, the first A’s pitcher to make that claim since at least 1913.

For that, he credits his renewed familiarity with his changeup. And for his changeup he thanks American League hitters.

Dull made a meteoric rise through the baseball ranks in 2015, starting with 35 games pitching as the closer for Double-A Midland through Triple-A Nashville for a dozen games, then to Oakland for the final month of the season.

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Homer cavalcade gnawing at A’s Sean Doolittle

Sean Doolittle is still looking for answers to the reasons underlying the three homer he's allowed already this season.

Sean Doolittle is still looking for answers to the reasons underlying the three homer he’s allowed already this season.

When Sean Doolittle gave up a two-run homer Tuesday night, he stayed at the coliseum late into Wednesday morning, watching video to see if he could find any flaws in his delivery.

All that with a day game on the Wednesday docket. Doolittle said he didn’t find much, “just little nitpicky things so minor you don’t know if they have any impact.’’

The A’s lefty closer didn’t get into another game until Friday. And it happened again, a ninth-inning homer, this time from a lefty hitter, the Royals Eric Hosmer. That one made for three homers in six games and 5.1 innings pitched for Doolittle, and it’s eating at him.

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Knee surgery scheduled for A’s Eric Sogard; on the plus side, infielder’s disabling shoulder injury has now been cleared up

Eric Sogard's left knee will require surgery next week, meaning his stay on the DL will be another 6-8 weeks.

Eric Sogard’s left knee will require surgery next week, meaning his stay on the DL will be another 6-8 weeks.

Infielder Eric Sogard, who began the season on the disabled list with shoulder discomfort, will have his stay on the disabled list extended by perhaps two months by left knee surgery.

An MRI on the knee, which has periodically given Sogard trouble the last two seasons, wasn’t encouraging.

“They found some loose bodies in the knee near the patella tendon,’’ Sogard said Saturday morning. “And they have to take them out. I’ve played through the pain the last couple of years, but this is the time.

“You never want to be on the disabled list, ever, but I’m thinking that I’ll have the surgery and then maybe be back and have a good second half.’’

The veteran infielder left the A’s Saturday morning to get a second opinion, but as manager bob Melvin said, surgery “sounds like it’s going to happen.’’

Sogard said he’d been told to expect to miss between six and eight weeks, which would have him on target for a return sometime around the All-Star break in mid-July.

“It’s not what I’d hoped,’’ Sogard said, “but we’ll get it dealt with now and go from there.’’

This will be just Sogard’s second career appearance on the disabled list. He wound up there from Aug. 7 through the end of the season in 2012 with back trouble.

 

–Starter Henderson Alvarez will throw a bullpen session Sunday morning, after which he could be headed out on an injury rehabilitation assignment.

Alvarez, who says his arm “feels real good right now,’’ has thrown two successful simulated games facing hitters, his highest level of work since last July’s shoulder surgery when he was with the Marlins.

Melvin said Alvarez has been impressive throughout, and “if all goes well, he’ll be ready to go out on rehab.’’ The manager said the idea was that he’d be ready to join the A’s starting rotation in late May or early June.

“He’s right on the timetable our guys set out for him,’’ Melvin said.

 

NOTES

–The Royals made sure to get Ryan Madson’s ring size when they were putting together a World Series ring for him. Even so, the A’s reliever is finding the ring, which he received Friday from Royals’ manager Ned Yost, a tad on the big side. “I thought I might wear it from time to time,’’ Madson said. “But it’s kind of loose and might fall off.’’ No matter, he said “it’s a beautiful thing.’’

–Friday Melvin said he didn’t want to move shortstop Marcus Semien out of the No. 9 position in the batting order. But Semien, who leads the team with four homers, had a single and a walk Friday, leads the club’s regulars with a .281 batting average, .378 on-base percentage and .656 slugging percentage, and Saturday he was batting second. “I still like him ninth,’’ Melvin said. “but he had a walk and a knock last night. And with Chris Coghlan out of the lineup, he was the best choice.’’ Coghlan, who has batted second three of the previous five games, is in an 0-for-19 skid.

–Coghlan isn’t the only struggling A’s hitter. First baseman Yonder Alonso is hitless in his last 13 at-bats and is sitting at 3-for-33 (.091) for the season. Even so, his defense has been a major plus and Melvin had Alonso in the lineup again Saturday. “He’s hit a few balls hard lately,’’ Melvin said. “We’ve got a few guys who are struggling.’’

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A’s Henderson Alvarez another step closer to rotation

Henderson Alvarez had his second simulated game go well Friday. he's anxious to go out on a rehab assignment, but A's aren't quite ready to sign off on that.

Henderson Alvarez had his second simulated game go well Friday. he’s anxious to go out on a rehab assignment, but A’s aren’t quite ready to sign off on that.

Henderson Alvarez threw a 30-pitch simulated game before Friday’s matchup with the royals and seemed to think he was just about ready to go out on an injury rehabilitation assignment, which would be his last step before moving into the Oakland rotation.

The A’s will wait on that, however, as they discuss internally if they want to have Alvarez, a 2014 National League All-Star with Miami, throw one more simulated game, perhaps getting up to 45 or 50 pitches, before he’s sent out. Oakland’s goal is to make sure he isn’t rushed and that once he’s in Oakland, he’s ready.

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A’s Khris Davis switches sides of plate in quest to get going

Khris Davis is going to extremes to get his offensive game going for A's.

Khris Davis is going to extremes to get his offensive game going for A’s.

More than four hours before the first pitch in the Coliseum Friday, Khris Davis was giving the A’s a new look.

He was in the batting cage at home plate, but the right-handed batter was in the left-handed batter’s box as batting coach Darren Bush was flipping baseballs to him from behind a screen about 15 feet away.

Davis was taking his right-handed swing, so that the end of his bat was just inches from the netting of the batting cage. He had pitch after pitch flipped to him, and Davis worked on keeping from extending too much and tried to deliver a short but powerful swing.

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Semien’s two homers for A’s leave him wanting more

Marcus Semien leads the A's with three homers, but he'd like more from his at-bats as a whole.

Marcus Semien leads the A’s with three homers, but he’d like more from his at-bats as a whole.

Marcus Semien hit a couple of homers Tuesday. Even so, he wasn’t all that fired up about it.

Part of playing it on the downbeat is that the A’s lost, 5-4, a game they seemed to have in the bag after Semien’s second homer off Hector Santiago gave Oakland a 4-1 lead at the end of seven innings.

Part of it, too, was that the A’s shortstop’s bat has been slow to get going even with his team-leading three homers. His average is a modest .259.

More than that, he’s bothered that he hasn’t done more. All three of his homers have come with no one on base. And before a ninth-inning RBI single Monday, he’d started the season 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

“I felt great tonight,’’ Semien said. “I want to keep consistent, barreling up the baseball, not necessarily to hit home runs. If it happens, it happens.

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Alvarez keeps inching closer to being ready for rotation; Doubront’s Tommy John surgery seems to go well

Henderson Alvarez had a good 30 pitches throwing to hitters in Stockton Monday. He'd like to be in A's rotation by next month.

Henderson Alvarez had a good 30 pitches throwing to hitters in Stockton Monday. He’d like to be in A’s rotation by next month.

Will Henderson Alvarez be in the A’s rotation a month from now?

There’s no telling, but Alvarez is optimistic after throwing 30 pitches against hitters in Stockton Monday.

“It felt good, real good,’’ Alvarez said on returning to the A’s for Tuesday’s workout. “I threw all my pitches, and they all felt good.’’

The A’s signed Alvarez as a free agent shortly after the Miami Marlins made him a free agent by not tendering him a contract in December. They apparently weren’t willing to gamble on his health, but the A’s took a flier who was a 2014 National League All-Star with a 12-7 record, 2.64 ERA and 1.235 WHIP.

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