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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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A’s hanging in despite bats that need to come to life

Marcus Semien and Butler hope to generate some of the offense A's have been lacking.

Marcus Semien and Butler hope to generate some of the offense A’s have been lacking.

The good news for the A’s is that they are 4-4 without having hit well.

The bad news is that they really, really aren’t hitting well.

In eight games to start the season Oakland has scored two runs or fewer four times, including Monday’s 4-1 loss to the Angels that opened the current homestand.

More than that, half of Oakland’s wins have come with the A’s scoring just twice. They beat the White Sox 2-1 last Wednesday despite not scoring after the second inning. Then they beat the Mariners 2-1 when Coco Crisp homered in the 10th inning Sunday in Seattle.

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The plane truth is the A’s liked the Giants’ ride very much; Felix Doubront out for the season with Tommy John surgery

Josh Reddick said he and his teammates had a good time with the thought they were flying from Seattle to Oakland after Sunday’s win on a plane tricked out in San Francisco Giants colors.

It was, in fact, the Giants’ plane, a 737 that became the A’s third option when Oakland’s first two choices by contract, a 767 and a 757 that are the planes of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, were unavailable.

After snapping a photo of the plane with the script “We are SF We are Giant,’’ Reddick went to Twitter with the post “Apparently we made the jump to a new plane. #AreYouKiddingMe.’’

“It was a top-notch plane,’’ Reddick said. “No one in here is legitimately pissed. We were all having a little fun with this. There were zero complaints.’’

The Giants’ plane, a 737, is smaller than the planes the A’s are used to, but it had all first-class seating, which several of the A’s said was quite comfortable, and “really let you stretch out,’’ according to one.

Maybe there were no complaints coming from inside the clubhouse. However, Reddick said A’s fans were none too happy, and told him so via their Twitter responses.

“There sure were fans who were upset,’’ the right fielder said. “There is a little extra something when we play the Giants, but for the fans, they put a lot into who they root for. I was surprised at the strength of the reaction.’’

It turns out that the A’s were told they were getting the Giants’ plane, but not that the logo and slogan would be plastered all over it. It’s a good bet it won’t happen again.’’

 

–The A’s have lost left-handed starter Felix Doubront for the season. He’s due to undergo Tommy John surgery on his left elbow Tuesday.

Doubront will have a reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow under a team headed by Dr. Timothy Kremchek in Cincinnati’s Beacon Orthopedics. Doubront had gone to Kremchek for a second opinion after the elbow damage was discovered.

The left-hander left his final spring start on April 2 after feeling discomfort in his elbow in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants. The initial prognosis was described as the pitcher “having some deficiencies in his ligaments’’ by A’s trainer Nick Paparesta after the initial reading of an MRI.

Paparesta said that there was ample need for a second opinion and Doubront opted for Kremchek, one of the foremost orthopedic specialists treating athletes.

“First and foremost we feel for Felix,’’ A’s manager Bob Melvin said. ““He’d found a home here and had earned a spot in the rotation.’’

Instead, left-hander Eric Surkamp has been given the chance to pitch as the fifth starter. He allowed two runs in 4.1 innings Friday in his first start against the Mariners, and he’s down to start against the Angels in the finale of the current series Wednesday afternoon.

Beyond Surkamp, the A’s have Jesse Hahn, who was in the rotation for a half a season last year before arm problems of his own and who is currently pitching for Triple-A Nashville. Then there is Henderson Alvarez, who is working his way back from shoulder surgery last July and who could be ready to join the rotation late in May.

“We feel we can withstand it,’’ Melvin said of the loss of Doubront. “It’s unfortunate that this has happened. But in addition to Hahn there is (top prospect) Sean Manaea. And there’s Henderson, too.’’

The 28-year-old Doubront came up with the Red Sox but last year was 3-3 with one save and a 5.50 ERA in 16 games split between Toronto and Oakland.

 

NOTES

–Rickey Henderson was in the A’s clubhouse before Monday’s game as he will be off-and-on during the regular season as part of the Hall of Fame outfielder’s work with the club.

–Melvin doesn’t seem to be too concerned with the slow start of Khris Davis, the left fielder having a .174 average with no homers or RBI and 13 strikeouts in 23 at-bats. “He’s off to a bit of a slow start,’’ Melvin said, “but it’s early. When you see him in batting practice, he’s hitting almost every ball to the opposite field.’’

–Monday was the third consecutive start for Coco Crisp in center field, which mean a third consecutive day on the bench for Billy Burns. Melvin said Crisp is likely to sit with the A’s facing a left-handed starter in Hector Santiago Tuesday and again with a day game Wednesday, both of which figure to be starts for Burns.

–Monday was the fifth consecutive non-start for DH Billy Butler, but he, like Burns, is likely to be in the lineup against Santiago.

 

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Bench time for some guys named Billy on Sunday

Billy Burns and Billy Butler got the day off Sunday with Coco Crisp and Stephen Vogt playing instead.

Billy Burns and Billy Butler got the day off Sunday with Coco Crisp and Stephen Vogt playing instead.

This season could be tough on guys named Billy.

Specifically A’s center fielder Billy Burns and DH Billy Butler.

A year ago, both probably would have been in the lineup against Felix Hernandez as the A’s closed out a three-game series in Seattle. Instead, neither were. Coco Crisp started in center for Burns and Stephen Vogt was the DH over Butler.

After Crisp had a breakout night Saturday with two hits, two steals and two runs scored, manager Bob Melvin wanted to run his back out there again.

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Edgar Martinez offers Warriors some advice on balancing between setting wins record and focusing on NBA title

As the Golden State Warriors head into their last two games with the chance to set the NBA record for most wins in the regular season, we thought it would be a good time to talk to someone who’s been there.

Enter Edgar Martinez, the longtime Seattle Mariner designated hitter, the man for whom the American League DH of the Year title is named. Martinez, now the Mariners’ hitting coach, was a key member of the 2001 Seattle team that set the AL record for most wins in a regular season.

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Hill, `Steve’ do a number on Mariner hitters Saturday

Rich Hill had his fastball and curve working in sync Saturday vs. Mariners.

Rich Hill had his fastball and curve working in sync Saturday vs. Mariners.

About the only thing wrong Rich Hill did that was off-base Saturday was to refer to his catcher as “Steve.’’

Stephen Vogt can let most things slide, including this, in all likelihood, but he really, really prefers to be called Stephen.

Even so, if Hill is going to go out every five days and throw six innings allowing one run, the left-hander could probably get away with calling his catcher Stephanie.

Well, maybe not. But Hill gave the A’s pitching corps a much-needed boost with six innings in which he walked one and struck out 10. His final K, of the Mariners’ Chris Iannetta in the sixth inning, was his 500th career strikeout.

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Despite Hahn challenge, Surkamp will remain in rotation

Eric Surkamp will continue as an A's starter.

Eric Surkamp will continue as an A’s starter.

Eric Surkamp wasn’t all that impressed by his first start with the A’s Friday, going just 4.1 innings and getting no decision in a 3-2 Oakland win in Safeco Field.

If he’d gone on the internet, the left-hander would have seen that the man he beat out for the fifth spot in the A’s starting rotation, righty Jesse Hahn, pitching at about the same time, threw six scoreless innings in a start for Triple-A Nashville.

Still, there seems to be no reason for undo concern on Surkamp’s part. A’s manager Bob Melvin said he liked what he’s seen from Surkamp so far, and as long as that’s the case, Surkamp will be fine. But Melvin had a long chat with Nashville skipper Steve Scarsone, and the report he got on Hahn was very encouraging.

“He said he threw the ball well, he gave up two hits, and he said the sinker was better as the game went along and he was really impressed by his performance,’’ Melvin said in recalling the conversation with Scarsone. “It was an encouraging first outing for Jesse.’’

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