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Rich Hill’s groin injury acts up again; he won’t start vs. Reds

Rich Hill felt his left goin act up and will not make his scheduled start Saturday in Cincinnati.

Rich Hill felt his left goin act up and will not make his scheduled start Saturday in Cincinnati.

The A’s pitching rotation took another blow Wednesday when left-hander Rich Hill, the A’s prime candidate for the All-Star Game, felt a reoccurrence of a groin pull in his left leg.

Hill, 8-3 with a 2.25 ERA, hasn’t pitched since initially feeling his groin act up on May 29. The Wednesday throwing session was supposed to set the veteran lefty up for a return to the rotation on Saturday, but now the A’s will move up Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea up one day each to get the team through the weekend series in Cincinnati.

The veteran will leave the team Thursday to fly back to the Bay Area and he’ll have an MRI to see if the A’s medical team can determine the cause of the problem and what must be done to get Hill healthy again. Oakland hasn’t put Hill on the disabled list yet, but it’s only a matter of time before he becomes the 15th member of the roster to land on the DL.

The A’s can backdate a move to the 15-day DL for 10 days, so for the moment at least, the A’s are just talking about Hill missing one more start.

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A’s have a chance to strike it big in the week’s draft

The good news for the A’s is that they have three picks on Day One of the three-day player draft that starts Thursday night in New York.

Better news is that the top end of the draft is believed to be deep, so the A’s have a chance to tap good talent with draft picks No. 6, No. 37 and No. 47. The club has four picks in the top 100, including No. 76, and also the 106th pick.

The somewhat dicey news is that there is no consensus, not just on who the A’s should take, but on who anybody should take. A quick take of draft projections Wednesday had the A’s tying the knot with  Tennessee third/second baseman Nick Senzel, New Jersey high school left-handed pitcher Jason Groome, Mercer outfielder Kyle Lewis, Southern California high school outfielder Mickey Moniak and Louisville outfielder Corey Ray.

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A’s lineup has an odd look with Davis and Valencia out

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.’’

 

NOTES

–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.

 

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June could be the month in which A’s get healthy again

Josh Reddick hopes to be back in A's lineup and in right field by the end of the month.

Josh Reddick hopes to be back in A’s lineup and in right field by the end of the month.

When Sonny Gray came off the disabled list Sunday, it was the continuation of an encouraging trend for the A’s.

May 25 saw second baseman Jed Lowrie come off the disabled list. Two days later, backup catcher Josh Phegley came off the DL. A couple of weeks earlier, third baseman Danny Valencia was activated.

No one can tell what the future will bring in terms of baseball injuries, but the way things are setting up, June could be a month in which the A’s get much of their karma back. And with that could be a chance to be competitive in the American League West.

Two relievers, R.J. Alvarez and Liam Hendriks are healthy now and working their way back.

Alvarez threw in a minor league game on a rehab assignment on Friday, could get another one or two games and could be ready to be activated by the end of this road trip this weekend in Cincinnati. Hendriks threw a simulated game Saturday with Class-A Stockton and may well be less than a week behind Alvarez.

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Rich Hill likely to return to mound for A’s Friday

Rich Hill is confident he'll be healthy enough to start in Cincinnati this coming weekend

Rich Hill is confident he’ll be healthy enough to start in Cincinnati this coming weekend

Rich Hill didn’t do much Sunday. Not much except prove to himself that he’ll be back in the A’s rotation come Friday in Cincinnati.

Hill took some time pregame in Minute Maid Park to play catch with bullpen catcher Phil Pohl. It was no big deal, except that Hill didn’t feel any discomfort in his left groin.

He had been feeling it as recently as Sunday morning. But the physical therapy work he’s been doing with the A’s training staff had him ready all smiles.

He and Pohl played catch at about 90 feet

“I did throw, and it went great,’’ Hill said. “With a day off tomorrow to rest it, the idea is I’ll throw a bullpen on Wednesday. I’m pretty optimistic for Cincinnati.

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Coco Crisp, Khris Davis both good to go as Sonny Gray returns

Coco Crisp was back in the A's lineup Sunday after missing Saturday's start with an Achilles heel issue.

Coco Crisp was back in the A’s lineup Sunday after missing Saturday’s start with an Achilles heel issue.

The A’s got some news on the injury front Sunday. In contrast to the way injuries have played themselves out this season, the news was good.

Coco Crisp, who left Friday’s game early with an Achilles’ tendon problem and who got only a pinch-hit at-bat in Saturday’s 12-inning game, was back in the lineup.

So, too, was Khris Davis, who was winged in the 12th inning Saturday just above the elbow. The numbness having dissipated, he declared himself good to go.

And then there was the case of Sonny Gray, who was activated off the disabled list to make Sunday’s start against the Astros. He was sidelined two weeks ago by a right trapezius injury, but that seems to be behind him and the only question seems to be how deep into the game will he be able to get after 15 days off.

Gray was down to throw about 80 pitches when he was scheduled to start Sunday with Class-A Stockton. That hasn’t changed much now that the A’s needed him to start in the big leagues.

“We’ll see, it’ll be somewhere in the vicinity, depending on how he gets there and on the inning,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “I do have a pretty deep bullpen today.’’

Melvin said of Crisp “I doubt he’s 100 percent,’’ but it was a positive sign that Crisp was playing because as recently as Saturday the manager was speculating that Crisp might need Sunday off.

As for Davis, he was in the lineup provisionally. He was hit on a nerve above the left elbow and briefly lost feeling in his hand Saturday night. He proclaimed himself ready to go, but the A’s put him through a workout in the batting cage to make sure all was well. If not, Melvin said he was prepared to make some changes.

 

NOTES

–Liam Hendriks reportedly felt good after his simulated game with the Stockton Ports. “He was encouraged,’’ Melvin said. “It had been a while since he’d felt really good.’’ Hendriks threw to hitters with extra intensity and came out of the day happy with the progress he’s been making.

–Rotation candidate Henderson Alvarez threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session Saturday. The A’s are mulling over what is next for Alvarez, who is trying to come back after having shoulder surgery last July. It will probably involve him facing hitters, either in a simulated game or on an injury rehab assignment.

–Rich Hill, skipped in the rotation this weekend because of a mild left groin strain, is down to throw a bullpen session Wednesday in Milwaukee, but it’s not clear yet what date next weekend he will return to the rotation in Cincinnati. Because the A’s have off days Monday and Thursday, Melvin and pitching coach have leeway in moving the starters around and assigning extra rest, as needed. The best guess is that he would start Friday so that he and fellow lefty Sean Manaea, due to start next Sunday, wouldn’t be pitching on back-to-back days.

–The A’s were talking 24 hours later about the play Houston left fielder Colby Rasmus made to throw out Jed Lowrie, who was going for a double in the 11th inning Saturday. “When the ball was hit, I thought it would be a double fairly easily,’’ Melvin said. “He was in the right spot, made a great throw. It was a great play.’’

–Much has been made that A’s reliever Ryan Dull has not allowed any of his 21 inherited runners to score, but more than that, hitters are 0-for-32 against him with men in scoring position.

–Reliever Sean Doolittle is on a major streak with one urn allowed in his last 12 games over 11.1 innings. He not only has a 0.79 over that stretch, but he has recorded 20 strikeouts while walking just two, one of those intentional.

 

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Jed Lowrie makes it a habit of haunting his old teams; infielder’s two-out homer in ninth forces extra innings

Jed Lowrie had a big homer for the A's Saturday, but it wasn't big enough.

Jed Lowrie had a big homer for the A’s Saturday, but it wasn’t big enough.

In his second game playing against the A’s last year, Jed Lowrie homered while playing for the Astros.

“You always get a kick out of doing that against your old team,’’ he said at the time.

In his second game playing against the Astros this year, Lowrie homered for the A’s. And it couldn’t have come at a better moment. Batting with two out and Oakland down a run in the ninth inning, Lowrie delivered his first homer of the season. It tied the game and forced extra innings.

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Sonny Gray to make surprise start Sunday vs. Astros while Rich Hill, still dealing with groin problems, pushed back

Sonny Gray will start Sunday for Oakland instead for Class-A Stockton.

Sonny Gray will start Sunday for Oakland instead for Class-A Stockton.

In a surprise move borne out of a little bit of desperation, Sonny Gray will come off the disabled list to start for the A’s Sunday in Houston against the Astros.

Gray was supposed to throw for class-A Stockton in an injury rehabilitation assignment start, then return to Oakland to pitch next weekend in Cleveland.

But with Jesse Hahn having lasted just two outs on Friday against Houston and with Rich Hill deemed unable to pitch this weekend because of continuing troubles with a achy left groin, the A’s were short of available starting pitchers.

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Will A’s send down Andrew Triggs after he saved bullpen? Tyler Ladendorf answered the call to pitch the eighth inning

Andrew Triggs (60) stepped up for A's Friday, but he might be headed to the minors Saturday.

Andrew Triggs (60) stepped up for A’s Friday, but he might be headed to the minors Saturday.

The A’s were grateful for Andrew Triggs Friday, that he was able to step up when starter Jesse Hahn floundered in the first inning and give Oakland four innings of work out of the bullpen.

Baseball is a tough master, though. And the A’s are likely to show their gratitude Saturday by sending Triggs down to Triple-A Nashville. The A’s are in need of extra bullpen help after the bullpen was forced to eat 7.1 innings of Friday’s 12-2 loss to the Astros, although admittedly one of those innings went to infielder Tyler Ladendorf.

So Triggs won’t be surprised if the A’s decide to send him down and call someone else up. The pitchers at Triple-A Nashville are well rested, the Sounds game Friday at home against Round Rock was rained out.

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A’s scratch Rich Hill from Saturday start with groin issue; Kendall Graveman moves up from Sunday to take over

Rich Hill has been scratched from his scheduled start Saturday by A's.

Rich Hill has been scratched from his scheduled start Saturday by A’s.

The A’s have scratched left-handed starter Rich Hill, who was coming off winning American League Pitcher of the Month honors, for Saturday’s start against the Astros.

Kendall Graveman will get the start, moving up a day from a scheduled Sunday start. Because of Thursday’s day off, Graveman will be going on his regular fifth day turn.

Hill went 5-1 with a 2.13 ERA and 1.026 WHIP as the only steady arm in the A’s rotation in May. He came out of his final start May 29 against the Tigers with some left groin discomfort but was pronounced ready to go before the A’s left Oakland for Houston.

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