The A’s put forward one of their oddest lineups of the season Tuesday as a way to compensate for injury and illness.
Left fielder/DH Khris Davis (numbness in his left hand) and third baseman Danny Valencia (stomach illness) out for the moment and Josh Reddick (fractured left thumb) not due back from the disabled list for a few weeks yet, the A’s had backups at first base, third base and right field.
Yonder Alonso switched from first base to third, Billy Butler stepped in at third and Chris Coghlan was again in right with Oakland opening a two-game series against the Brewers.
Only the fact that the A’s are playing in Milwaukee, a National League city, and don’t need a DH kept a fourth backup from starting this one. As a consequence, manager Bob Melvin is working with a three-man bench “which you don’t want to do in a National League game’’ he says.
Despite going 3-for-10 in Houston over the weekend, Valencia was a little under the weather with what Melvin called a “stomach bug.’’ Valencia wasn’t at the game for most of the pregame, although he was expected to show close to game time. Even so, Melvin said he wasn’t sure how long the ailing third baseman would stay.
Davis said the pain in his left elbow where he was hit by a pitch Saturday was mostly gone, but there was “tingling and numbness’’ in his left hand. He had been very much looking forward to playing in Milwaukee, because this had been home for him for most of the last three seasons.
“I hated to call the skipper this morning that it just wasn’t feeling good,’’ Davis said. “I love playing here. But I knew Sunday when I was playing the game and it got worse that it was a little bit more serious.’’
Davis was holding out hope that he might be able to pinch-hit, and Melvin, his team playing with a short bench in a NL city, would like to hope he’d be available.
“I love playing here. I love it,’’ Davis said. “Especially these guys. There’s nobody I want to beat more right now.’’
Davis, who had a chance to check in with some of his old teammates early in the afternoon, will see a doctor before the game starts.
“There’s a little concern, because I’ve never felt this before with nerve damage,’’ Davis said. “It’s hard for me to gauge if it’s the same, but I know with activity it gets worse.’’
–The A’s have settled on Saturday for Rich Hill to return to the starting rotation for the first time since May 29. That is, Melvin said, contingent on Hill, the A’s most effective starter with an 8-3 record and 2.25 ERA, being able to throw without any pain in his left groin when he throws a bullpen session before Wednesday’s game. Hill said he’s not experiencing any pain now.
–Liam Hendriks (right triceps strain) was down to throw an inning for the Stockton Ports as part of an injury rehabilitation assignment Tuesday.
–The A’s had Henderson Alvarez, still working his way back from last July’s shoulder surgery, threw a two-inning simulated game Tuesday. “We’re not sure when Henderson comes back at this point,’’ Melvin said.
–Davis has hit 34 homers dating back to Aug. 6, 2015, a number that is tied for the lead in the Major Leagues over that span with Nolan Arenado of the Rockies.
–Yonder Alonso got his third start of the season at third base with Valencia out. Melvin said Alonso “is a good glove guy wherever he is. He’s just so good at first base, but he does a nice job at third.’’
–Melvin and Brewers’ manager Craig Counsell had a long chat before the game behind the batting cage. The two are longtime friends and Counsell, in his first year with the Brewers says Melvin, managing the Diamondbacks in 2006 when Counsell played there, “opened the door’’ for him by showing him behind-the-scenes baseball. Melvin said “I don’t know if I opened the door. He just came in.’’
–The A’s are the next-to-last team to play an interleague series this year. The other now is Baltimore. A’s pitchers come into interleague play with an .083 batting average since interleague play began in 1997. No A’s pitcher has homered in a game since Blue Moon Odom in 1972.