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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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Sean Murphy’s death hits A’s clubhouse hard

The news of the death of former A’s minor league pitcher Sean Murphy Tuesday hit the A’s clubhouse hard.

Many of the players who have spent time working their way through the minor league system were close to Murphy, 27, whose cause of death wasn’t immediately known.

“When I was going through rehab last year he’d had Tommy John surgery and we worked out together all the time,’’ infielder/outfielder Tyler Ladendorf said. “I think we played together for about four years. It’s just a shock. Everybody wants to know what happened.

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A’s Andrew Triggs makes most of MLB debut

Nashville manager Steve Scarsone has never been one to let a good prank slip by. He often saves his good stuff for the times when he’s able to tell one of his players he is going to the big leagues.

Such was the case Sunday when Andrew Triggs, a 27-year-old right-hander with minimal Triple-A experience got the call to the bigs from Oakland.

“I was the bullpen coach yesterday, and I had the walkie-talkie,’’ Triggs said. “Scar brought me in after the game and told me I’d broken it, and I’d have to pay for it. And then he said I had to go buy a new one in Oakland.’’

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A’s demote Eric Surkamp; Andrew Triggs up; Hahn likely to start Friday vs. Astros, but Manaea remote possibility

Lefty Eric Surkamp was sent to Triple-A Nashville Monday after giving up six runs in 4.2 innings in Toronto Sunday.

Lefty Eric Surkamp was sent to Triple-A Nashville Monday after giving up six runs in 4.2 innings in Toronto Sunday.

The A’s demotion of left-handed starter Eric Surkamp Monday leaves Friday’s spot in the rotation open, and while that will likely be filled by Jesse Hahn, the A’s aren’t ready to commit to him or to lefty Sean Manaea.

“We’re not sure yet,’’ manager Bob Melvin said after the club brought up reliever Andrew Triggs to take Surkamp’s name on the roster. “We’ll make a decision at the proper time for that.’’

The proper time may well depend on the weather for this week’s four-game series in Comerica Park. Rain had the potential to be a problem Monday and rain is expected again for the getaway game on Thursday afternoon.

The A’s had expected Hahn to make the starting rotation out of spring training, but he struggled throughout Cactus League play. Surkamp made the rotation when Felix Doubront was injured and Hahn was ineffective. Surkamp’s signature game was a seven-inning relief performance in his Bay Bridge Series start against the Giants April 2 in the Coliseum.

Even at the time, Melvin said he’d “be shocked if Hahn wasn’t back, and in our estimation very soon, too.’’ If the A’s make the move now, it would be after four Pacific Coast League starts for Hahn with the Nashville Sounds.

Manaea was one of the A’s big finds of the spring, and while he has a 2-0 record, 1.50 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, he’s not on the 40-man roster, and the A’s would have to find space on the 40-man rotation, not always an easy thing to do.

The right-hander had been expected to be the second or third starter in the rotation, but he fought his control all spring and didn’t look anything like the pitcher he’d been with the A’s last year, compiling an 11.15 ERA in spring training.

Hahn had allowed one run in his first 14 innings for the Sounds before Sunday, when he allowed three runs in 3.1 innings, giving up seven hits. His ERA sits at 2.04 with a 1.42 WHIP and .246 opponents’ batting average.

 

–The A’s claimed Triggs on waivers in March from Baltimore, which apparently wasn’t willing to wait on a 27-year-old who’d pitched in just one game above Double-A level.

But he’d had a tremendous 2015 season at Double-A Bowie with a 1.03 ERA, 17 saves and .196 opponents’ batting average.

“It would have been nice to see in the spring,’’ Melvin said. “But we’ve seen some video of him, people in development like him, he’s got some deception to his delivery and all reports are good.’’

Triggs’ numbers with Nashville aren’t bad if you look past his 5.14 ERA. He’s 2-1 and opponents are hitting just .214 against him. His bloated ERA stems from an April 14 appearance in which he allowed three earned runs in one-third of an inning. Beyond that, he’s allowed just one run in 6.2 innings this month.

Triggs has been with three organizations – the Royals, Orioles and now A’s – in the last 13 months, and the claim by Oakland worked out well for him. Nashville, in addition to being the A’s Triple-A location, is Triggs’ hometown, so he’d been pitching in front of family consistently.

And his parents, Betty and Austin, flew Monday from Nashville to Detroit with the hope of witnessing his big league debut.

Triggs said Nashville manager Steve Scarsone played a trick on him in telling him he’d been promoted.

“I was the bullpen coach yesterday, and I had the walkie-talkie,’’ Triggs said. “Scar brought me in after the game and told me I’d broken it, and I’d have to pay for it. And then he said I could do it in Oakland. That was cool, obviously a thrill.’’

 

NOTES

–Jed Lowrie said he’s been having calf problems with both legs, and while he said it was good to get a day off Sunday to rest in Toronto off Rogers Center’s artificial turf, he probably could have played. With the A’s having games on the next 10 consecutive days “that probably went into their decision,’’ Lowrie said.

–It will be interesting to see if Billy Butler starts Wednesday’s game when the tigers are scheduled to throw Justin Verlander. The DH generally doesn’t start against right-handers and the right-handed Verlander has a long history as an A’s killer. But Butler’s slash line against him is staggering – .405/.468/.536 – with two homers. Butler credits that in part to playing in the AL Central and seeing the Tigers 19 times a year when he was with the Royals.

–Josh Reddick got a new supply of bats, and not a moment too soon. He broke eight bats in his first starts on this road trip.

–Nashville pitcher Dillon Overton was named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week for throwing his first career complete game. They lefty allowed one run in seven innings in the second game of a doubleheader against Colorado Springs on April 20. He allowed five hits but no walks and struck out five.

 

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A’s Yonder Alonso, Stephen Vogt OK with weekend bats

Yonder Alonso is happy with A's bats this weekend, even if stats were minimal.

Yonder Alonso is happy with A’s bats this weekend, even if stats were minimal.

Yonder Alonso knows what you’re thinking about the A’s offense.

After scoring a season-high eight runs Friday, the team is in a slump with three runs Saturday and three more Sunday. They hit four homers, but only had two hits with men in scoring position.

“You look at the numbers and they might say we’re struggling offensively, but that’s not the case,’’ Alonso said. “We hit the ball hard.’’

In addition to the homers, the A’s had three warning track flies that might have carried out with the Rogers Center roof open.

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With Jed Lowrie ailing, A’s Tyler Ladendorf gets start at 2B

Tyler Ladendorf makes his start in the big leagues this season at second base for A's Sunday.

Tyler Ladendorf makes his start in the big leagues this season at second base for A’s Sunday.

Tyler Ladendorf hasn’t played more than a couple of innings at second base since last year.

He was in the starting lineup for the A’s series finale in Toronto Sunday and neither he nor the A’s seemed at all concerned with the man who had been Nashville’s starting center fielder moving to the infield.

Ladendorf was drafted as a shortstop, and for much of his minor league career he’s been a second baseman, although the last couple of seasons have seen him make a transition to the outfield. When he made his big league debut last year, it was as a second baseman.

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A’s Bob Melvin finds success in reviewing plays

Manager Bob Melvin says new rules on the `neighborhood play' at second base are taking time to get adjusted to.

Manager Bob Melvin says new rules on the `neighborhood play’ at second base are taking time to get adjusted to.

The A’s side prevailed Friday night in three umpire reviews, two of which the A’s requested.

A’s much as the early success on the road and the six-game winning streak Oakland brought into Saturday, the success in baseball’s system of challenging umpire calls tells out how much different this season is starting than last year’s did.

Bob Melvin has made four challenges in the first 17 games, and the A’s manager has won three of them, two Friday night. He’s also seen the A’s survive a handful of challenges from other teams. Last year, the A’s lost 14 of the 30 challenges they put out there.

There is one form of challenge that Melvin remains leery of, even though it worked to the A’s advantage Friday when Oakland challenged the first out on a double play call at second base. A replay showed that the base hadn’t been touched and the A’s saved themselves an out in the process.

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A’s Ryan Madson, Sean Doolittle still share closer’s job

Ryan Madson will continue to share closing duties with Sean Doolittle.

Ryan Madson will continue to share closing duties with Sean Doolittle.

It’s obvious that Ryan Madson is the A’s closer, right?

I mean really. The guy has enough saves to be atop the leaderboard in the American League with seven, the most recent of which was a three-out effort in Toronto Friday.

Coming out of spring training, Sean Doolittle was supposed to be the guy, and yeah, he has a couple of saves, but he’s thrown as much in the eighth inning as in the ninth.

Well, here’s the thing. There are numbers A’s manager Bob Melvin believes in, but total saves three weeks into the season aren’t on the list.

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With Danny Valencia out, A’s Tyler Ladendorf promoted

Tyler Ladendorf got the promotion to the big leagues Friday with Danny Valencia going on the disabledlist.

Tyler Ladendorf got the promotion to the big leagues Friday with Danny Valencia going on the disabledlist.

Tyler Ladendorf never thought he’d be in the big leagues this week. If he had, he’d have brought his passport with him on Nashville’s road trip to Colorado Springs. Instead of flying straight from Colorado to Toronto, Ladendorf had to fly back to Nashville last Thursday, then make the jump from Nashville to Toronto Friday morning.

He’s being called up to take the roster spot that had been Danny Valencia’s. Valencia suffered a left hamstring injury that put him on the disabled list. The A’s, needing another infielder, tabbed Ladendorf.

He joined the A’s having played just two games in the infield for Nashville, both of them at shortstop. But he’s played second, third and short in the past, and he seems equally at home in the infield or outfield.

“I feel like I fit in pretty good here,’’ Ladendorf said. “I was playing primarily center, but just before game time, I would take grounders in the infield. I wanted to make sure I was covered if I came here. I wanted to be sure I would be ready.’’

Of that, manager Bob Melvin has no doubt.

“He gives us the type of versatility we need,’’ Melvin said. “He can play, and play defense as well as he can at all the positions. It’s obviously nice to have him.’’

While Ladendorf said his mother, Linda, would be here Saturday and Sunday, coming in from her Illinois home, Valencia flew back to the Bay Area early Friday.

He was due to have an MRI on his left hamstring, but the A’s aren’t expecting to know much on his status until at least Saturday, but Valencia said Friday night he expected to miss only the minimum, 15 days.

Valencia was disappointed to miss the series, because he said he enjoyed playing in Toronto and the people and the city in 2014 and 2015 before the trade.

 

–Ex-A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson isn’t off to the kind of mercurial start he had this point last year, .364, but he has six homers and 15 RBI to go with a .284 average, better than the three homers and 11 RBI at this point a year ago.

It’s early in the season and he’s looking forward to facing his old A’s team for whom he will always have a fondness.

“It’s fun. I get to go out there today and face Sonny Gray, who’s a pretty good pitcher,’’ Donaldson said. “I loved Oakland. We had a bunch of really good teams over there. Most important, we had a really great group of guys. We really bonded over there. Ten years from now I’ll still think my time over there was pretty special.’’

Donaldson was an internet darling Thursday, or at least his glove was. He went to catch a line drive in Baltimore, got the ball in the webbing of his glove, and saw the laces of the webbing give way as if he had an actual hole in his glove

“I’ve never had that before,’’ he said. “I’ve been breaking my glove in by putting it in the sauna, and I think the sauna fried one of my laces. It was terrible, because he ended up scoring on a very weird play.’’

 

NOTES

–With Valencia on the DL, Jed Lowrie has made two starts as the cleanup hitter. Melvin used him there 21 times in the 2013 season. “Jed is a chameleon as far as being in the lineup,’’ the manager said. “He can hit anywhere. He doesn’t change his approach. He doesn’t put added pressure on himself. He doesn’t try to hit to the slot we put him in. So it’s easy to move Jed around. We’ve hit him every spot in the lineup one through eight since he’s been here.’’

–Pat Venditte, who was a media darling around baseball when he broke in as baseball’s first full-time switch pitcher last year, says he’s gone through something of the same media scrutiny, “but it goes away after a week.’’ He’s tweaked his deliveries some, but says he’s basically the same pitch he was with the A’s.

–Chris Colabello, the Jays; first baseman, was slapped with an 80-game suspension on Friday, leaving first in the hands of switch-hitter Justin Smoak for the most part. And the Jays have altered their pitching and will call up Drew Hutchison, who was their opening day starter a year ago, from Triple-A to start the final game of the series Sunday.

 

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Rich Hill getting game together as A’s keep road smooth

Rich Hill had 10 more strikeouts in a strong effort as he beat Yankees Thursday.

Rich Hill had 10 more strikeouts in a strong effort as he beat Yankees Thursday.

There are dozens of reasons why the A’s are 6-0 on the road, the fourth-best road start to a season ever for an Oakland team.

One of them is Rich Hill. The left-handed starter battled his control a little but mostly took the game to the Yankees Thursday, allowing just three hits and two runs, one earned.

And once the A’s offense kicked in with a four-homer onslaught, Hill was on his way. He walked four and struck out 10. He’s had one other road start, in Seattle, also struck out 10 in that one and allowed one run in a win.

Hill is beginning to look more and more like the pitcher who was the best starter in the Boston rotation by the end of the 2015 season, one reason the A’s went after him hard in an effort to bolster their rotation.

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