Melvin gets an extension as a `long-term part’ of A’s

It's been a tough year for Bob Melvin, but the A's manager is getting a contract extension today.

It’s been a tough year for Bob Melvin, but the A’s manager is getting a contract extension today.

A’s general manager Billy Beane will announce a contract extension for manager Bob Melvin Wednesday afternoon in a press conference at the Coliseum.

The A’s are in the midst of what likely will be the worst season in Beane’s 17 years as general manager, but Beane has made it clear all along that he doesn’t blame Melvin for the 60-79 record Oakland takes into Wednesday’s series finale with the Astros.

And managing owner Lew Wolff said that while there was no rush to get a deal done “Bob’s a long-term part of the organization.’’

Wolff and Beane have said that a ceaseless series of injuries, unexpectedly poor performances from the bullpen and lower than expected home run potential have combined to lead the A’s where they are.

“Bob and Billy and the group have been dealt some tough breaks this season,’’ Wolff said. “But they are all a part of the long-term equation here. An announcement like today’s was going to happen sooner or later.’’

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Burns, Canha presenting A’s with a young look on offense; Dull has made quite a name for himself in just six games

Mark Canha is greeted at the plate by fellow A's rookie Billy Burns after a three-run homer in the fifth inning Tuesday.

Mark Canha is greeted at the plate by fellow A’s rookie Billy Burns after a three-run homer in the fifth inning Tuesday.

For a team that’s 14 games out of first place and owner of the worst record in the American League at 60-79, the A’s do have some good things happening.

They have two of the better performing rookie hitters in the league in center fielder Billy Burns and left fielder-turned-first baseman Mark Canha.

That’s not to say that either will win the Rookie of the Year award, but both will merit consideration.

Burns was supposed to be spending the 2015 season honing his skills at Triple-A Nashville, but injuries and shoddy performances in the A’s outfield created opportunity, and he’s hitting .296 with an on-base percentage of .335.

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Vogt spends another day away; should rejoin A’s Wednesday

Catcher Stephen Vogt hasn't been at the Coliseum since being helped off the field Sunday. He's expected back Wednesday.

Catcher Stephen Vogt hasn’t been at the Coliseum since being helped off the field Sunday. He’s expected back Wednesday.

Tuesday was another day without Stephen Vogt, but the A’s are reasonably optimistic it will be the last day their catcher/first baseman won’t be with them.

Vogt was resting at home for a second day after having been hit by a foul tip in the groin Sunday. He had a second ultrasound, which confirmed the findings of the first that there is no rupture and nothing requiring surgery.

“It could be a while,’’ manager Bob Melvin said about being able to write Vogt’s name into the starting lineup. Melvin said Vogt will leave Thursday with the A’s on a 10-game road trip through Texas, Chicago and Houston.

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Crisp working on tough four-game hit streak, all in the pinch

Coco Crisp has pinch-hits in four consecutive games as he tries to reconstruct his season.

Coco Crisp has pinch-hits in four consecutive games as he tries to reconstruct his season.

Coco Crisp has a four-game hitting streak, which doesn’t sound like much.

It is much. The Oakland left fielder, limited by hip and neck problems to coming off the A’s bench, has done it the hard way. Four consecutive pinch-hits.

On the last day of the road trip, Aug. 30, he singled in the seventh inning as a pinch-hitter and scored a run.

On Friday he entered in the sixth with a man on second base and beat out a single, helping the A’s put together a three-run rally.

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Vogt at home resting after trip to hospital Sunday; Kazmir-Gray matchup has both sides looking forward to Tuesday

Catcher Stephen Vogt, here tended to by trainer Walt Horn after being hit in the groin, was due of a second ultrasound Monday and wasn't at the Coliseum for start of A's-Astros series.

Catcher Stephen Vogt, here tended to by trainer Walt Horn after being hit in the groin, was due of a second ultrasound Monday and wasn’t at the Coliseum for start of A’s-Astros series.

Catcher Stephen Vogt was at home trying to rest Monday after being sent to the hospital after Sunday’s game when a foul tip caught him directly in the groin.

Vogt appeared to be in intense pain after the ball off the bat of Seattle’s Ketel Marte struck him. He fell to the ground, did a complete 360-degree role and gathered in a fetal position while the A’s medical crew rushed to help.

Vogt said in a text to this newspaper “I’m alright,’’ but there is no telling yet when he might be able to play again.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said that an ultrasound Sunday showed no rupture, but to be on the safe side a second ultrasound was scheduled for later Monday.

Josh Phegley takes over as the everyday catcher with rookie Carson Blair his backup. Melvin said the A’s likely wouldn’t call up another catcher unless there is an indication that Vogt will be out for an extended time. The manager said he would be comfortable giving Blair, who played the last two innings Sunday, a start.


–Scott Kazmir’s relationship with Sonny Gray progressed over the last two years from mentor-student to best buddies, and on Tuesday, they will start opposite each other. Kazmir, dealt to Houston at the trade deadline, makes his first start for the Astros in the Coliseum with Gray his opponent.

“It’s going to be fun. It is,’’ Kazmir said. “There’s going to be a lot of trash talking. With Sonny out there, he’s already been texting. Did he start it? I don’t know. Should I say he started it? No, it might have been me.

“It was more like he didn’t know whether he was going to pitch Monday or Tuesday. And in however many words, I was like, `I don’t think you want to pitch on Tuesday.’ ’’

Astros manager A.J. Hinch, like Melvin, doesn’t like to look past the game directly in front of him. In this case he made an exception.

“I expect a couple of things,’’ Hinch said of Kazmir. “He’s very familiar with this mound and with this team. It’ll be an experience for him pitching against his old team and against a very close friend in Sonny Gray. That’s going to have its own little subplot. Those guys are going to try to outdo each other. That’s always fun.’’

Melvin was impressed by the way the left-handed Kazmir bounded with Gray, who was starting his first full big league season when the A’s brought Kazmir aboard for the 2014 season.

“They have quite the relationship,’’ Melvin said. “The trash talking doesn’t surprise me. At the beginning it was kind of a mentorship, now it’s kind of a friendship. They’re very close.’’



–Josh Reddick was back in the lineup in right field. He said he was feeling “much better’’ after having stomach discomfort and dizziness the last two days.

–Sam Fuld said he still has some discomfort in his back, middle up on the left side, but it’s getting better and he might be able to play some this series against Houston. Melvin suggested Fuld, who has been taking some live swings, might not start until the A’s 10-game road trip starts Friday in Texas.

–Chris Bassitt hasn’t thrown yet since suffering some shoulder discomfort last month, but Melvin said “playing catch is the next step,’’ and Bassitt was walking around with a baseball in his glove, just waiting to get the word he’d been cleared.

–Barry Zito threw one last inning for Nashville Sunday, which surprised Melvin not at all, even though the lefty had been on the disabled list with left shoulder tendinitis. He came off the DL Sunday and threw a scoreless 1-2-3 inning. “He put together a great season this year, and he’s probably trying to keep his options together for next year,’’ Melvin said. “Getting back and pitching tells other clubs and us that he was able to come back and pitch and end the season healthy.’’ He finished 8-7 with a 3.46 ERA.

–The A’s will bring up two, maybe three, position players Tuesday with Triple-A Nashville’s season ending Monday. Outfielder Craig Gentry and first baseman/third baseman Max Muncy left mid-afternoon Monday from Omaha, where the Sounds were playing, to head to Oakland. It’s possible second baseman Joey Wendle also could get the call. Acquired in the Brandon Moss trade, Wendle hit .290 with nine homers and made the Pacific Coast League All-Star team. .



Nolin finally gets a shot with A’s, and can be happy with results; Blair didn’t have time to panic in making MLB debut

Sean Nolin made his A's debut Sunday, throwing six innings and giving up three runs.

Sean Nolin made his A’s debut Sunday, throwing six innings and giving up three runs.

Sean Nolin had hoped this day would have come a little sooner.

But after making his first start for Oakland after the A’s acquired him last winter as part of the Josh Donaldson deal, the left-handed starter could accept that he’s been making progress. He threw six innings and 85 pitches, and all but one of the innings was impressive.

The inning that wasn’t, the fifth, saw him get hurt but two walks and a wild pitch, all of which were his fault, and a pop fly single that was just bad luck. The walks were to the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup when “I was trying to nitpick,’’ he said.

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September is about A’s running short of left-handed hitters; Hahn in best shape of his career, except that he can’t throw

Josh Reddick wasn't in Sunday's lineup, but the A's are hoping he'll be starting again Monday.

Josh Reddick wasn’t in Sunday’s lineup, but the A’s are hoping he’ll be starting again Monday.

What’s left?

Such is the state of the A’s that against the right-handed Hisashi Iwakuma, Oakland was only able to put three left-handed bats in the starting lineup Sunday. Switch-hitter Billy Burns was in center, lefty Stephen Vogt was at first base and lefty Eric Sogard was at second base.

Iwakuma is fairly typical in that as a right-hander, left-handed hitters are his nemesis. This year lefties are hitting 39 points better than right-handers against him.

There were times last year the A’s would put seven lefties or switch-hitters batting left-handed against good right-handed pitcher, but this isn’t then.

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Beane has choices to make to get A’s back on track

Billy Beane's 2015 team is headed for the worst finish under his direction, so changes will have to be made.

Billy Beane’s 2015 team is headed for the worst finish under his direction, so changes will have to be made.

For the first time under Billy Beane’s watch, an A’s team is 20 games under .500.

No Oakland team has won fewer than 74 games during Beane’s tenure as the A’s general manager, which began after the 1997 season. The A’s are 58-78 with 26 games left in the season.

For the A’s to get to 74 wins from where they are now, they’d have to go 16-10 the rest of the way. It’s not impossible, but the A’s haven’t had a stretch that good all season.

This isn’t the way Beane and his lieutenants mapped things out last winter. He couldn’t have known all the injuries that would come Oakland’s way, but he takes pride in the depth his teams tend to have.

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Nolin to step in for A’s after time spent learning from Zito

Lefty Sean Nolin has waited a long time, but he gets his first start with A's Sunday vs. Mariners.

Lefty Sean Nolin has waited a long time, but he gets his first start with A’s Sunday vs. Mariners.

Sean Nolin never thought his debut with the A’s would take this long, but finally the left-hander is due to start against Seattle Sunday.

He missed most of spring training while recovering from sports hernia surgery, didn’t get off the disabled list until mid-May, and has slowly been building up strength and stamina to the point where the A’s are hopeful they will see 90 pitches out of him in his debut.

“It’s definitely been a struggle,’’ Nolin said. “I had the surgery so late. It’s definitely been a long year getting everything corrected. But it’s been better in the last month. If I’m not 100 percent, I’m 95 percent. I’m right there.

Nolin, acquired in the Josh Donaldson trade with Toronto, had some mid-season shoulder tightness that landed him on the disabled list a second time, but he said his shoulder was just sore for a bit, and that the time off gave him time to get his leg strength back.

Along the way he had the time to watch fellow lefty Barry Zito pitch at Nashville. When he wasn’t doing that, Nolin sat and picked Zito’s brain, gleaning all that he could from the mind of the 2002 Cy Young Award winner.

Nolin’s curve and changeup are better, in large part because of the time he’s spent with Zito. He’s said he’s always had a slow curve, but now it’s picked up break and velocity.

“Awesome to have him around,’’ he said. “All through middle school I’d watch him on ESPN every morning before school, so that was a treat. He’s a down-to-earth guy for his status. He’s helped with the baseball life, how to act, too, stuff like that.’’


–Catcher Stephen Vogt was scratched just before the start of Friday’s game, but he delivered a pinch-hit single in the seventh and caught the last two innings, throwing out a runner trying to steal second.

Not bad for someone with an aching elbow.

“BP didn’t go well,’’ Vogt said for being scratched. He was willing to play, but manager Bob Melvin decided that it was better to give him a start off with the A’s down to face right-handed pitching the next three days.

Vogt said Saturday he’s feeling good to go, and the A’s can use him. He comes into Saturday with nine hits in his last 15 at-bats, a .600 average.



–Sean Doolittle has pitched hitless, scoreless baseball his last two outings, and manager Bob Melvin says the left-hander could be back in the mix for closer, a job that has belonged of late to lefty Drew Pomeranz. The manager said he’d be willing to use Doolittle, on the DL for all but one game until two weeks ago, on back-to-back days, but doesn’t think he’s ready for three games in succession.

–Rookie Ryan Dull is working his way into consideration for the ninth inning, too, Melvin said. Dull went through the Angels’ Kole Calhoun, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols on Wednesday, then the Mariners’ Robinson Cano, Seth Smith and Mark Trumbo Friday. “He’s got a nice mix of pitches, he spots the ball well and he looks like he belongs out there,’’ Melvin said. “He’s making a name for himself.’’

–The A’s say first baseman Ike Davis won’t be back in the A’s clubhouse this season. He’s at home in Arizona doing rehab work after surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.

–Manager Bob Melvin said Sam Fuld (back) is getting closer to playing and could be back on the field sometime during the Astros’ series that starts Monday.



Valencia says he’s not out to prove anything with A’s

Third baseman Danny Valencia is finding a home in the middle of the A's lineup.

Third baseman Danny Valencia is finding a home in the middle of the A’s lineup.

Danny Valencia has been in the middle of the A’s lineup for a month now, and he’s never really stopped hitting.

The third baseman put together a six-game hitting streak in his first six games, went hitless for a day, then hit in another four games in succession. He went without for a couple of games, but he’s hit safely in his last nine games.

More than that, he’s been a run producer. With his first-inning grand slam Friday, Valencia has driven in 22 runs in his first 22 games in green-and-gold.

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