Sean Manaea boosts hope that A’s rotation will be a factor

Sean Manaea is back, and the A's rotation is coming back at the same time.

Sean Manaea is back, and the A’s rotation is coming back at the same time.

A week ago, one could make a reasonable assumption that the A’s weren’t going to have much to play for the rest of the way.

Their starting pitchers hadn’t been doing much. They were in a 17-game stretch in which they were 0-9 with a 5.29 ERA. And that’s a scary long time to go without a win for an entire rotation.

Only once, almost two decades ago, had an A’s rotation gone dry longer, an 18-game stretch from July 24-Aug. 12, 1997. And if the A’s history of the last two decade says anything, it’s that the A’s are at least competitive when their rotation gives them a chance.

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A’s lefty Sean Doolittle a little weary, but he’s not hurting

Sean Doolittle has a little pain in his shoulder, but he's hoping to pitch in a day or so.

Sean Doolittle has a little pain in his shoulder, but he’s hoping to pitch in a day or so.

When A’s manager Bob Melvin didn’t go to lefty Sean Doolittle Tuesday on a night when Oakland was running desperately short of help, red flags immediately went up.

After all, Doolittle missed five months last year with injury problems. His health is a matter of prime concern to an Oakland bullpen that has been getting excessive work.

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Reborn offense puts a serious hurt on Giants for a second straight night while Madsen saves an aching pen

With Josh Reddick off the disabled list and back in his familiar third spot in the batting order Tuesday night, the A’s fielded their optimum offensive lineup for the first time in more than a month.

Even though Reddick didn’t have much to do with it, Oakland once again looked like a team that has rediscovered some serious potential at the bat rack. Even though the A’s saw their bullpen spring a leak for the second time in three days, the A’s rallied from a pair of three-run deficits for a wild 13-11 victory over the Giants at AT&T Park.

Jake Smolinski’s three-run pinch-hit home run off veteran Giants reliever Javier Lopez in the eighth inning was the most dramatic blow that ultimately gave Oakland its fifth victory in six games, and a two-game mini-sweep at a park where they’d lost 13 of 16 coming into this year’s Bay Bridge clash. Now it’s over to the Coliseum for two more to see if they can inflict even more damage to the reeling Giants.
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Daniel Mengden dazzles Giants, may be here for long term

Daniel Mengden has done nothing but impress since he brought his wacky windup, high socks and handlebar mustache to Oakland, and the A’s finally rewarded him for all of his fine work on Monday night.

After scoring just four runs for him combined in his first three major-league starts – all losses Mengden didn’t really deserve — the A’s hammered the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija for five runs in the second inning, continued to add on in later frames and rolled to an 8-3 victory at AT&T Park.

Marcus Semien’s towering three-run homer to center field was the big blow in Oakland’s early outburst as the A’s continued to gather steam following an impressive four-game series in Anaheim, where they won three of four from the Los Angeles Angels and were a bullpen blowup from completing a sweep.
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Coco Crisp continues upsurge with third career slam

Coco Crisp is locked in at the plate these days, with seven RBI and seven runs scored in last four games.

Coco Crisp is locked in at the plate with seven RBI and seven runs scored in last four games.

Coco Crisp has been around long enough to know that you can’t win them all.

At the same time he didn’t want to see Sunday’s game get away, not after Sonny Gray had pitched well for six innings, handing a 6-2 lead to the bullpen. As it happened, the pen wasn’t up to the task.

Crisp was invested in this game. His seventh homer of the year and his third career grand slam seemed to have turned the game around in the fourth inning. As the ball sailed over the left field wall, Crisp pumped his right arm, fist clenched, to the sky.

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Will re-signing Josh Reddick get done by Aug 1?


Josh Reddick could get another offer of a contract extension from the A's soon.

Josh Reddick could get another offer of a contract extension from the A’s soon.

Josh Reddick wanted to have any contract extension deal with the A’s done by the end of spring training.

It didn’t happen, so the right fielder agreed to give it a little more time.

More than a little time, three months, have passed – five weeks of which with Reddick on the disabled list with a fractured left thumb – but the hopes of a deal are still flickering.

According to a report from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, sources are telling him the A’s want to revisit contract extension talks with Reddick through his agent, Seth Levinson.

When talks last were ongoing, they stalled not over money as much as it was over length of contract, Reddick wanting a four-year deal and the A’s offering three.

Now the A’s, who have made it clear they would like to keep Reddick aboard, seem to want to take one more run between now and the Aug. 1 trade deadline – normally it’s July 31, but that falls on a Sunday this year – to get something done.

There are going to be contending clubs wanting to trade for Reddick for the stretch drive, and the failure to get an extension would increase the likelihood that Oakland would trade Reddick. That being said, even without a deal, there are plenty of reasons for the A’s to hold on to their No. 3 hitter.

By holding on to Reddick for the entire season, then giving him a qualifying offer before free agency – which Reddick would almost certainly turn down – would earn the club a first-round compensation draft pick if Reddick signed with another club.

If you turn that around, with the A’s knowing they would get at least a first-round draft pick in compensation by holding on to Reddick, that would drive up the price for him between now and Aug. 1 for teams wanting to pry him away from Oakland.

Reddick still has to get healthy. He’s due to come off the disabled list this week, and he’d had just one hit in his first 17 at-bats on an injury rehabilitation assignment. But he was having a breakout season at .322/.394/.466 with five homers and 18 RBI, and if he can come back at the same level, that would driving up his price whether he stays or goes.

And Reddick isn’t the only A’s player drawing interest as June prepares to morph into July. The Mets have been linked to talks concerning third baseman Danny Valencia for a while now, and the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians are both showing signs of interest. The Royals are without Mike Moustakas for the season and Cleveland hasn’t had much productivity from third base, just a .238 average and nine homers from its group of third basemen this year.

Valencia came into Sunday with a .333 average and 11 homers despite a stint on the disabled list.


Josh Reddick’s return on Monday now up in the air

Right fielder Josh Reddick will get extra at-bats at Triple-A before returning to the A's from the disabled list.

Right fielder Josh Reddick will get extra at-bats at Triple-A before returning to the A’s from the disabled list.

The A’s may have to do without Josh Reddick in right field for a little longer.

Reddick, out for five weeks with a fractured left thumb, was supposed to fly home Sunday and be in the A’s lineup Monday in San Francisco against the Giants. But after going 0-for-5 to have his average fall to .063 with one hit in 17 at-bats over four games, he told the club he wanted at least one more game.

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Crisp still looks like a winner at top of A’s lineup

Coco Crisp has been helping the A's find ways to win when he's the leadoff man, as was the case Saturday.

Coco Crisp has been helping the A’s find ways to win when he’s the leadoff man, as was the case Saturday.

The A’s have learned to adapt during a troubled season, nowhere more than at the top of the lineup.

Coco Crisp was supposed to be the No. 2 man this year at the top of the lineup behind another speedster, Billy Burns, who came into his own as a rookie last year by hitting .294 with a .334 on-base percentage and 70 runs scored.

Crisp, on the other hand, was limited to 44 games last year by neck and head injuries and an early elbow surgery. Manager Bob Melvin’s plan was to start Burns most of the time and have Crisp fit in when needed. When both were going to play, Burns would lead off and Crisp would bat second.

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A’s `Amazing Aces’ make it back to Anaheim for a day

amazing aces    Part of the A’s marketing plan for the second half of the season is a turn-back-the-clock game Saturday Aug. 6 with the Chicago Cubs in town.

For that reason A’s equipment manager Steve Vucinich brought along a copy of the Sports Illustrated cover of April 27, 1981 entitled “The Amazing A’s And Their Five Aces.’’

Pitchers Rick Langford, Steve McCatty, Brian Kingman, Matt Keough and Mike Norris are pictured wearing the yellow uniform that the team frequented that season, and Vucinich wanted to show the players and coaches and manager Bob Melvin the uniform the A’s will be sporting that day.

The A’s started the 1981 season 11-0 from April 9 through the first game of a doubleheader April 19 and 17-1 through April 26, the day before the cover date. Norris and Keough would both start the season 6-0, Langford 4-1, McCatty 3-0 and the A’s even won Kingman’s first three starts with Kingman, who’d lost 20 games in 1980, going 2-0 in them.

The rotation was the heart of the BillyBall phenomenon, so dubbed in 1980 by Oakland Tribune Columnist Ralph Wiley in 1980 in describing the way manager Billy Martin had his troops playing. The A’s would go on to win the first half of a strike-shortened season in 1981, then beat the Royals in the first round of the playoffs before coming up short against the Yankees.

There’s more to the Sports Illustrated cover than that, however. Vucinich brought a copy of the cover with him on this trip to Anaheim because it was in the visiting clubhouse in Anaheim that the photo was taken. The A’s started the season with an eight-game road trip, and when they kept winning SI couldn’t wait for the team to return to Oakland to shoot the cover.

More than that, if you look closely enough, you can see that the photo was taken the visiting clubhouse before its remodel in the late 1990s in front of the locker of Frank Ciensczyk, who’d been the clubhouse manager from the time the team moved to Oakland in 1968 before retiring in 1993 and handing the reins over to Vucinich.



Henderson Alvarez shut down until at least All-Star break

Henderson Alvarez has been shut down for a month to deal with the pain in his shoulder, but doctors aren't quite certain what is causing the pain.

Henderson Alvarez has been shut down for a month to deal with the pain in his shoulder, but doctors aren’t quite certain what is causing the pain.

The A’s still aren’t entirely sure what the problem is in the right shoulder of starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez, but the right-hander has been shut down for a month so the club can get a better grasp on what’s going on.

Manager Bob Melvin said he’d been told an MRI had not revealed any structural damage to the shoulder, which was first operated on last July by orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews. That being said, the two times Alvarez has built himself up to being ready to join the rotation, shoulder pain has cropped up.

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