A’s day off comes at a good time and in a good place

Coco Crisp gets to celebrate a family birthday on the off-day Thursday.

Coco Crisp gets to celebrate a family birthday on the off-day Thursday.

There are few things the A’s like more than playing in Anaheim, then having a day off before playing again in Oakland.

Many of the A’s have homes or family in Southern California, and they use the off-day to visit family and friends, something that’s hard to do in the course of the season.

The timing this week is great for Coco Crisp. The center fielder will stay in Southern California and will celebrate a family birthday Thursday.

Things were not quite as convenient for infielder Alberto Callaspo, whose wife is about to give birth … in Florida.

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A’s: Jed Lowrie hitting in tough luck; Josh Donaldson not hitting

#A's Jed Lowrie is just waiting for his luck to turn.

#A’s Jed Lowrie is just waiting for his luck to turn.

Jed Lowrie drove in the A’s only run Tuesday with a sacrifice fly.

Beyond that, the Oakland shortstop went hitless in four at-bats and is now hitless in his last 20 at-bats.

Josh Donaldson went hitless in all six of his plate trips Tuesday for the A’s and is now hitless in his last 21 at-bats.

There is a difference, though.

Lowrie seems to be hitting in tough luck. Donaldson is in one of those hitless streaks that batters get into from time to time when it seems as if they might never emerge.

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Bob Welch leaves eddies of emotion in old teammates

When I returned to the A’s beat in the spring of 2013, I hadn’t seen Bob Welch in about five years, maybe more.

I’d hit the road for a dozen-plus years in Seattle and he’d spent time away from the A’s working for the Arizona Diamondbacks but ultimately had been lured back to the Oakland organization by longtime buddy Curt Young.

We’d almost always gotten along well enough, although there are going to be rocky patches between reporters and players, and that’s never going to change.

We started talking, rehashing old times and I was completely unprepared for what happened next. Welch called longtime A’s photographer Michael Zagaris over from the far side of the clubhouse, put his arm around my shoulder and told Zagaris, `I want a picture with this guy.’ ’’

That’s sort of the way it was with Bobby Welch. He liked people. He loved baseball. And anything that brought the two of them together was all right by him.

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Frieri contrite after suggesting A’s success is due to luck

Angels’ closer Ernesto Frieri had a few choice words for the A’s Sunday, calling them “lucky’’ and saying the Angels were going to beat them this week in a three-game series in Anaheim.

Well, Frieri got off to a good start Monday with a 4-1 Angels’ win in which he struck out the side in the ninth for his 11th save.

After that he sounded contrite when talking about Oakland.

“It was a misunderstanding,’’ Frieri said. “I’m sorry if I offended anybody. I respect the Oakland A’s, they’ve been playing really good baseball. But at the same time, I have confidence in my team. I knew we were going to play better baseball.

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Donaldson’s bat has a snooze, but glove is as alert as ever

Josh Donaldson's good glove work was in evidence in Baltimore again Sunday.

Josh Donaldson’s good glove work was in evidence in Baltimore again Sunday.

Donaldson was all smiles after Sunday’s game in Camden Yards, and you might think that a bit odd given that the A’s third baseman went 0-for-5, including grounding out twice with the bases loaded.

In all, Donaldson came up with eight men on base in the first five innings and drove exactly none of them in.

It wasn’t like Saturday, when he struck out in every one of his four at-bats, a new career worst, but it wasn’t a day you write home about.

“It’s just two games,’’ Donaldson said. “It’s a long season. It’s no big deal. Things are fine.’’

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Will A’s wait for O’Flaherty’s arrival for changes in bullpen?

Jim Johnson had another tough day coming out of the A's bullpen Saturday.

Jim Johnson had another tough day coming out of the A’s bullpen Saturday.

On Friday, Eric O’Flaherty threw an inning of scoreless baseball for Stockton in the California League.

On Saturday, Jim Johnson came in with a man on for Oakland in Baltimore and gave up a two-run homer on his second pitch.

What do those two events have in common?

The A’s are willing to give up on Johnson, who has not come close to being the pitcher he was with the Orioles when he had back-to-back 50-save seasons. It’s not like that was eons ago, either, it was in 2012 and 2013. It’s just 2014 (3-2 with a 6.46 ERA) that has been a problem.

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Moss a first baseman, but still armed and able in outfield

After catching a strong throw from Brandon Moss, Derek Norris tagged Orioles Nick Markasis at plate to extend Friday's game to 11th inning, when A's won, 4-3

After catching a strong throw from Brandon Moss, Derek Norris tagged Orioles Nick Markasis at plate to extend Friday’s game to 11th inning, when A’s won, 4-3

On the All-Star ballot, Brandon Moss is listed as a designated hitter.

On the A’s lineup card most days, Moss is listed as a first baseman.

So it’s easy to forget that Moss began his baseball life as an outfielder.

The Baltimore Orioles won’t soon forget, not after Friday night, when Moss threw a bullet from right field to the plate, enabling Derek Norris to tag out the sliding Nick Markakis, thereby denying the Orioles a 10th inning win.

The A’s went on to win the game 4-3 in the 11th, when Moss, as he does from time to time, struck out.

“I’m not a great outfielder as far as range and stuff,’’ Moss said. “But people don’t remember that I have a real good arm. That’s really my only defensive tool, but I’ve always had a real good arm. And when you don’t play the outfield a lot, and you play first base, people don’t remember.’’

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Machado `didn’t agree’ with Donaldson over quality of tag

Josh Donaldson said he thought he'd just made a normal tag, but Manny Machado of Orioles disagreed.

Josh Donaldson said he thought he’d just made a normal tag, but Manny Machado of Orioles disagreed.

No one was more surprised than Josh Donaldson when Manny Machado jumped up, got in his face and started yelling.

Donaldson had just tagged out Machado for the final out of the third inning. The A’s third baseman had the option to throw to first base, of course, but Machado was right there.

When Donaldson reached out for him, Machado tried to jump out of the way, lost his balance and fell. As he was falling, Machado took off his batting helmet and threw it.

“All I know is I just tried to tag the guy,’’ Donaldson said. “I was actually walking over to pick up his helmet for him and he jumps up and starts yelling. I have nothing against the kid. I don’t understand where it came from.’’

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A’s draftee Chapman seems to be in the Oakland mold; second-round pick Gossett will be kept as a starter

Matt Chapman, a third baseman from Cal State Fullerton who is Oakland’s first-round draft pick, seems like a natural for the A’s.

He’s got some power, he walks in addition to hits (a .312 average and .412 on-base percentage this year) and he has some power, as a .498 slugging percentage suggests.

With their second pitch, 65th overall, the A’s tabbed Clemson right-handed pitcher Daniel Gossett, who was 7-2 with a 1,93 ERA. he’s 6-1, 185 pounds.

Chapman sees the similarities between the A’s style and his, too.

“I know the A’s play old school baseball,’’ he said in a conference call Thursday. “That’s how I go about my business. It’s a good fit.’’

He’s spent the last three years with the Titans, his freshman year as a shortstop and the last two seasons at third base. When he wasn’t playing for Fullerton he led Team USA’s Collegiate National Team last summer with 20 RBIs while playing shortstop.

“I think playing for Team USA will definitely help me,’’ he said. “I surrounded myself with the best players in the country, people I will compete against or play with for the rest of my career. Wearing the USA logo is an amazing experience.’’

Chapman said he likes to play the way the Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia does, Pedroia being another old school guy. Physically he says he sees a resemblance to two quality third basemen, Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria.

And Chapman seems to have a little of the versatility the A’s crave – he made two pitching appearances on the national team and reached 98 mph while doing it. That being said, he did not pitch for Fullerton and he has no plans to pitch for the A’s organization, either, although he would not rule out a change of position.

“I consider myself strictly an infielder,’’ Chapman said. “I know I can hit at the next level. I don’t see the need for me ever to pitch. I can help with the glove. I think I could play shortstop or second base.

“My greatest strength is my defense. My personal opinion is I was the best defensive third baseman in college baseball this year.’’

A’s scouting guru Eric Kuboda, who ruled out having Chapman pitch, said “we think he could play shortstop, but we really see him as a third baseman starting out and continuing on.”

That being said, the numbers say he can hit a little. He had 16 doubles, two triples and six homers for the Titans this year to go with a team-high 48 RBIs.

A 5-foot-11, 185-pounder coming out of high school, he wasn’t drafted, and says he “flew under the radar.’’ But he’s 6-foot-2, 215 now and, the scouts suggest, ready to be a good hitter.

“I’ve never been drafted before,’’ Chapman said. “I was a good high school player, but I was still growing into myself. I needed to mature more physically.

“As I’ve matured and grown into my body, I took off from there.’’

A right-hander, he’s described as having good baseball instincts and a hard-nosed way of playing the game.

Scouts say he’s likely to stay at third base professionally, having shown that he has the quick reactions, good footwork and powerful arm that scouts like to see.

The A’s may get a good look at Chapman within the next week. The A’s are in Southern California for three games starting Monday against the Angels, and Fullerton is just down the road from Anaheim.

“It was amazing,’’ he said of the draft-day experience. I’m still kind of in shock, knowing that finally all your hard work has paid off and you get the dividends. My initial reaction is that I’m so happy. I still can’t even believe I get to play baseball at the next level.’’

Chapman, who will be represented by agent Scott Boras, grew up an Angels fan, but he likes the A’s.

“Their organization is great. It seems like they all pull on the same end of the rope,’’ Chapman said. He was in Oakland two days ago to work out for Oakland’s scouting personnel. “I grew up an Angels fan, but it’s never too late to change your favorite team, right?’’

Gossett was a good pitcher on an underperforming Clemson team. He struck out 107 in 107.1 innings and walked just 30.

Scouts like his slider as the best of his three pitches; he also throws a hard fastball and a changeup. And while he was a starter in college, he could be moved to the bullpen by the A’s down the line, although Kuboda said the club sees him as a starter.

“He’s a proven college performer,” Kuboda said. “He throws 92094 (mph), he throws strikes, he has an out pitch (the slider) and a good changeup. He’s got good stuff with performance. He’s a guy we’ve liked since high school.”


Donaldson had hit on his mind when he bunted in 8th inning

Josh Donaldson said there was a plan behind his eighth-inning bunt Thursday.

Josh Donaldson said there was a plan behind his eighth-inning bunt Thursday.

It was a move Josh Donaldson designed to fool the Yankees.

It fooled some of the A’s, too, when Donaldson tried to bunt in the eighth inning, batting with two on, no one out and Oakland down 2-1.

Donaldson had been hitless in his first three at-bats, and he looked to see the New York defense was deep and hoping for the double play.

So Donaldson squared around and didn’t get the bunt he wanted. The ball flicked off his bat and almost carried into the second deck of seats behind the plate at Yankee Stadium.

“They were playing me way back,’’ Donaldson said. “I knew the situation; I wasn’t just trying to move the runners over. I was trying to bunt for a hit in that situation.’’

He’d need to get one, because the A’s don’t particularly want their RBI co-leader (49) not to take his best shot. And they don’t want a bunt in that situation unless it’s a hit because with first base open, the Yankees could have walked the team’s other 49-RBI man, Brandon Moss.

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