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A’s give Rich Hill more options on upcoming road trip; veteran left-hander could get as many as three starts

Rich Hill could start as many as three times on A's upcoming road trip. He's 3-0, 0.95 on the road.

Rich Hill could start as many as three times on A’s upcoming road trip. He’s 3-0, 0.95 on the road.

The A’s will make a minor alteration to their starting rotation heading into a weekend series in Baltimore against the Orioles.

Rich Hill will start Friday and Jesse Hahn Saturday, changing the order in which the two pitched on the homestand. This keeps the 36-year-old Hill on an every-fifth day rotation and gives an extra day off for Hahn, who isn’t fully stretched out yet.

Although manager Bob Melvin didn’t say so, the chance gives the A’s the possibility of throwing Hill three times on Oakland’s upcoming road trip through Baltimore, Boston and Tampa Bay.

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Weirdness continues for A’s starter Sonny Gray vs. Mariners

Sonny Gray says he's feeling good, but the results have been, in his words a little weird.

Sonny Gray says he’s feeling good, but the results have been, in his words, “really weird.”

It says something that Sonny Gray gave up seven earned runs in seven-plus innings Tuesday and said afterward “this was the best I felt this year.’’

What exactly it says is a little bit of a cypher. Gray has stumbled out of the starting blocks in 2016, going 3-3 with a 4.84 ERA in six starts.

That’s his highest ERA at any point in the three-plus seasons Gray has been a big league starting pitcher. And the seven earned runs matched his career high, set on Aug. 6, 2014 against the Rays and again on Sept. 14, 2015 against the White Sox.

Tuesday night was, Gray said, “a weird game.’’

“You pitch into the eighth inning and you come out with a bad start,’’ Gray said. “It’s a really weird game tonight.

“I thought I threw the ball well. That’s definitely the best I’ve felt all year. It was really unfortunate the way it turned out.’’

The A’s were more-or-less within striking distance after seven innings, down 4-1. But the Mariners opened the eighth with a double and two singles, knocking Gray out of the game. And reliever Marc Rzepczynski was clobbered Kyle Seager, who took all the mystery out of the game with a three-run homer.

“It’s important to get to the eighth inning,’’ Gray said. “But you look back, and I didn’t really do my job. I didn’t put us in with a good chance to win. Pitching into the eighth is good and all, but not when you give up seven runs. It’s just a weird game.’’

The early homers were something of an anomaly. Gray hadn’t given up more than one homer in a game in eight consecutive starts dating back to last year, when he allowed 17 in the entire season. He’s allowed five with five months of the season yet to play.

“I hung a curveball a little in, and he turned on it,’’ Gray said in describing the first homer from Leonys Martin in the second inning. Robinson Cano went deep to open the third.

“The second one, I had a feeling he was going to swing. I left it up, and he got it. I felt great. They got those two big home runs, then they added on in the eighth.

In my other starts, I was a little sporadic with location and I was not throwing strikes. Tonight I felt great. I didn’t feel any different than I felt the previous two years. It’s just not really going my way.’’

 

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Chris Bassitt coming to terms with Tommy John possibility

Chris Bassitt is facing the possibility of needing a Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery.

Chris Bassitt is facing the possibility of needing a Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery.

Chris Bassitt said he took the news hard when he learned he’d probably need tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery in his right arm.

The A’s starter will get a second opinion from Dr. Timothy Kremchek Thursday in Cincinnati, after which a final decision will be made. An MRI discovered a tear in the ligament, but the exact size of the tear is under review.

If the tear is small, there is a chance the recommendation will be rest and rehabilitation followed by strengthening work. Bassitt is steeled for the possibility that surgery would have to be done.

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Pregame: Jesse Hahn to make A’s season debut Saturday

Oakland Athletics' Jesse Hahn (32) fields the ball during spring training at Lew Wolff Training Complex in Mesa, Ariz., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

Right-hander Jesse Hahn will start for the A’s on Saturday against the Hpuston Astros at the Colisuem. (Josie Lepe/Bay Area News Group)

***Ray Hacke is filling in for John Hickey on Saturday. Here are his pregame notes***

OAKLAND – The A’s called up pitcher Jesse Hahn from Triple-A Nashville to start Saturday’s home game against the Houston Astros.

Hahn went 6-6 with a 3.35 ERA in 16 starts for the A’s in 2015 before spending the final three months of the season on the disabled list with a strained right forearm. The right-hander then began the season in Nashville after a disastrous spring in which he posted a whopping 11.15 ERA.

Cactus League batters hit .382 against Hahn.

“He probably didn’t have a lot on his fastball,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Our reports are that he does now.”

The numbers bear that out. Despite a rough last outing, Hahn posted a 2.04 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .246 average in four starts at Nashville.

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Postgame: Yonder Alonso caps A’s rally with walk-off HR

Oakland Athletics' Yonder Alonso watches his three-run home run against the Houston Astros in the ninth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 29, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. The Athletics won 7-4. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Yonder Alonso watches his walk-off three-run home run against the Houston Astros in the ninth inning on Friday night as the A’s rallied to win 7-4. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

OAKLAND – As far as major league debuts go, Sean Manaea gave the A’s a chance Friday night as the big left-hander with bushy black hair pitched into the sixth inning before departing with the score tied.

But the prized arm in the trade that sent Ben Zobrist to Kansas City last July had to wait a while to celebrate.

Houston scored three runs in the sixth – all charged to Manaea – to take the lead, but the A’s rallied for two in the eighth to tie the score and won 7-4 when Yonder Alonso blasted a three-run, walk-off home run to right in the ninth.

“He’s got that kind of power,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s been swinging better a little bit in batting practice.”

Stephen Vogt led off the decisive inning with a fly to left-center that got past center fielder Carlos Gomez and rolled to the wall for a double. Three batters later, Alonso smashed a 1-0 offering from Pat Neshek into the seats, putting an end to a slide in which Oakland had lost five of six games.

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Pregame: A’s place Chris Bassitt (elbow) on DL; Jesse Hahn to start Saturday

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin takes the ball from pitcher Chris Bassitt in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, Thursday, April 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

A’s manager Bob Melvin takes the ball from pitcher Chris Bassitt in the fourth inning of a game against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

***Darren Sabedra here filling in for John Hickey. Here is the latest pregame news from the A’s clubhouse***

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OAKLAND — Chris Bassitt’s pitching arm had not felt right since spring training, but the A’s right-hander figured it was usual soreness starters experience as workloads increase.

After his second straight rough out, Thursday against Detroit, Bassitt let the team’s brass know that the arm was not right.

He underwent an MRI on Friday — results have not been announced — and was placed on the 15-day disabled list with what the team called a strained right elbow.

“We’re not sure of the severity yet,” manager Bob Melvin said. “But we do know that we need to put him on the disabled list.”

Bassitt’s status was among a series of moves of the A’s made Friday, hours before top pitching prospect Sean Manaea was to make his major league debut as Oakland begins a home series against the Houston Astros. Continue Reading

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A’s Jed Lowrie geared up for Astros arrival this weekend

Jed Lowrie would like nothing better than for A's to come up big against his 2015 team, the Astros, this weekend.

Jed Lowrie would like nothing better than for A’s to come up big against his 2015 team, the Astros, this weekend.

When Jed Lowrie played for the A’s in 2013 and 2014 he really wanted to beat the Red Sox and the Astros, the two teams he’d played before arriving in Oakland.

Last year he was back with the Astros, and boy, did he want to beat the A’s. And now he’s back in Oakland and the Astros are coming to town. Nothing has changed.

“Oh yeah, I want to beat them for sure,’’ Lowrie said. “That’s the way I’ve always been, though. Whatever jersey I have on, I am here to win.

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A’s Sonny Gray can’t wait to erase Wednesday from mind

Sonny Gray struggled through two innings Wednesday. It left a bitter taste in his mouth.

Sonny Gray struggled through two innings Wednesday. It left a bitter taste in his mouth.

Wednesday night wasn’t the first time Sonny Gray has been off this month. It was, however, the first time it really cost him.

Gray couldn’t find home plate with a GPS system, walking four and throwing 65 pitches in just two innings. He’d never had such a short start, but he wasn’t about to argue when manager Bob Melvin told him he was done.

“No arguments,’’ Gray said. “I don’t know when that last time was that happened.’’

It was clearly Gray’s worst performance of the season. At the same time, He’s struggled this entire month, which is troubling, because his previous Aprils have been outstanding.

Last year he went 3-0 for the month with a 1.98 ERA and for his career he was 7.1 with a 2.02 ERA.

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A’s call up Sean Manaea; he’ll debut Friday vs. Astros

Left-hander Sean Manaea will make his first big league start Friday against the Astros, and A’s manager Bob Melvin said the club expects to keep him in the rotation long term.

“I think once you bring up a guy like this, you are thinking more for the long haul,’’ Melvin said before Wednesday’s game with the Tigers. “We think he’s ready to go. You make your reps here in the big leagues based on performance. He wouldn’t be coming here if we didn’t think he had the ability to stay here.’’

The 6-foot-5 24-year-old has a fastball that sits at 96-97 mph, a good curve and an improving changeup, which is why the A’s insisted on getting him from Kansas City when they traded Ben Zobrist to the Royals at the trade deadline last July. When the season started Manaea was ranked as the second-best prospect in the organization and the 48th-best in the big leagues according to Baseball America.

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A’s Josh Reddick takes tip from Darren Bush, makes it work

Josh Reddick is on a tear with nine hits in his last four games, including three in Tuesday's 5-1 win over Detroit.

Josh Reddick is on a tear with nine hits in his last four games, including three in Tuesday’s 5-1 win over Detroit.

Hitting coach Darren Bush had some ideas about why Josh Reddick had struggled during a three-game series in New York.

The A’s won two of three, but Reddick only had a couple of hits in 12 at-bats.

A younger Josh Reddick might not have been as ready to listen as the 2016 version. But Bush and Reddick talked it out, and the A’s right fielder now has four consecutive multiple-hit games, including three hits in Tuesday’s 5-1 win over Detroit.

“Give the credit to Bushy,’’ Reddick said. “Bushy has been talking to me a lot after really struggling in New York. Going into Toronto he talked about staying closed and keeping the front hip toward the pitcher as opposed to not stepping toward first base.

“That was obviously the one thing that needed fixing. Once we tweaked that, things are going to change.’’

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