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A’s have no problem living with Burns’ first-pitch propensity; Pomeranz’s move from rotation proves a boost to bullpen

Billy Burns's propensity for attacking first pitches is all right with manager Bob Melvin.

Billy Burns’s propensity for attacking first pitches is all right with manager Bob Melvin.

Billy Burns doesn’t fit the classic A’s profile.

He swings at almost everything he sees. In Saturday’s game, he saw five pitches in four at-bats. That’s not the A’s way.

Generally one of the roles assigned to a leadoff hitter is to see lots of pitches, particularly in the first at-bat, so that his teammates can get an idea of what to expect from that day’s starting pitcher.

Given that Burns’ results Saturday were a single, a double and both of the runs the A’s would get against Felix Hernandez, manager Bob Melvin can live with that.

“We’ll let the second hitter see the pitches,’’ Melvin said, deferring the role of seeing pitches to the usual No. 2 hitter, Stephen Vogt. “Vogt is pretty good at that, too.

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Graveman making Donaldson trade look better and better

News flash: Kendall Graveman is good. Very, very good. His latest seven-inning shutout stint extended his scoreless streak to 16 innings, and he outdueled the bane of Oakland, Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, for his latest feat of fine mound work.

This is the Graveman who dazzled in spring training. He ran up against the rocks when the regular season started, but the general consensus among the A’s is that he started rushing when the regular season began. He needed a short stint in the minors to calm himself down and start again. Ever since his recall on May 23, he has been just short of brilliant — nine starts, none in which he’s allowed no more than three runs and the last six in which he’s allowed no more than two. His ERA is 1.78 over those nine starts (12 earned runs in 60 2/3 innings pitched).

A lot of folks didn’t understand the Donaldson trade considering the A’s still had control of his services for another three seasons. But now, they have a 24-year-old starter who could be a mainstay for the next five years. He’s a bona fide candidate for American League Rookie of the Year (along with teammate Biily Burns), and while Donaldson is having an All-Star first half in Toronto, the A’s aren’t so bad off for making the deal. We haven’t even seen Sean Nolin yet, the other starter obtained in the deal (he’s 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA at Triple-A Nashville) or still-teenage shortstop Franklin Barreto, who’s hitting .281 with seven homers at Class A Stockton.
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A’s run production seems better than it really is

The A's have scored in big bunches at times, but for the first 83 games, the timing hasn't been what the A's could have hoped.

The A’s have scored in big bunches at times, but for the first 83 games, the timing hasn’t been what they could have hoped.

Baseball is a game of numbers, and there are some exceptionally strange numbers being carried around by the A’s this season.

Oakland’s 6-20 record in one-run games is at the top of the list and has gotten much ink, or what passes for ink in a digital age.

What about the other end of the equation? What about the blowouts? When Oakland lost by four runs, 9-5, to Seattle Friday, it was the ninth time the A’s had lost by four or more runs.

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Gray likely to start Tuesday, not throw in All-Star game

Sonny Gray is likely to start Tuesday and the following Sunday for the A's and won't be eligible to pitch in All-Star Game if he makes AL squad.

Sonny Gray is likely to start Tuesday and the following Sunday for the A’s and won’t be eligible to pitch in All-Star Game if he makes AL squad.

The A’s would like to see Sonny Gray pitch twice between now and the All-Star break, and manager Bob Melvin is strongly leaning to having Gray, recovering from a bout of gastritis caused by salmonella, start Tuesday in New York.

That would leave him free to start Sunday, July 12, in Cleveland, the last day before the All-Star Game. Doing that would preclude probable All-Star Gray from pitching in the All-Star Game Tuesday July 14 in Cincinnati because Sunday starters are excluded from pitching in the game.

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Reddick apologizes to Melvin over remarks about lineup; manager says it was his fault for `miscommunication’

Josh Reddick apologized to manager Bob Melvin for remarks he made in a radio interview Thursday.

Josh Reddick apologized to manager Bob Melvin for remarks he made in a radio interview Thursday.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said he took the blame for the lineup change before a game last month that led right fielder Josh Reddick to complain in a Thursday pregame radio interview about front office meddling in how the Oakland lineup is put together.

Asked by broadcaster Ray Fosse about what goes in to getting his left-handed bat into the lineup against a left-handed starter, Reddick said:

“I have no idea. It doesn’t come from anywhere in this clubhouse. Everybody knows what situations our general manager puts up there. I couldn’t tell you what the difference is between me starting against one guy and not starting against another guy. There’s probably so many numbers they could dig into their computers and try to find one just to keep me out of the lineup.’’

Reddick was in the original starting lineup Tuesday against Rockies’ lefty Jorge De La Rosa, but then was told he was not playing, and wasn’t happy about it. That came out in the interview, and the right fielder apologized to Melvin Friday.

Talking Friday about Reddick’s description of the front office having “trumped’’ the lineup Tuesday, Melvin denied, that, then said “It was miscommunication, and it was my fault.’’

“We have a lot of numbers, and there is a metric system that I look at that is basically an optimal lineup vs. the pitcher we’re facing that particular night, and I hadn’t looked at it before,’’ Melvin said. “It’s a useful tool for me. So I changed my mind, and I got back to him and didn’t really explain to him why, and therefore there was a little bit of miscommunication.’’

Melvin said the call to go with Sam Fuld, also a left-hander, over Reddick was his, and not that of General Manager Billy Beane. However, the GM has been known to ask Melvin, and A’s managers before him, to structure lineups in certain ways.

Talking about what came out in the radio interview, Reddick said he and Melvin have talked things out and said he would never want to do anything to throw Melvin under the bus considering they have a good relationship.

However, A’s players current and past are mindful of the front office impact on the lineup.

“That did not come out the way I wanted it to come out,’’ Reddick said. “I talked to Bob, just the two of us. Bob is such a good guy and a good manager. I don’t want to come down on him.’’

Although he’s hitting .152 with one homer against lefties this year, Reddick says he does not want to rest against even the best left-handers, “I don’t care if it’s Dallas Keuchel or Clayton Kershaw.’’ And Melvin said he wants players who feel that way.

Reddick said he hasn’t heard from anyone in the front office and doesn’t know if he will.

 

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A’s solve one lefty, but plenty more where he came from

Josh Phegley one of the keys to A's solving opposing left-handed starters.

Josh Phegley one of the keys to A’s solving opposing left-handed starters.

The A’s spent the off-season adding right-handed hitters.

They signed Billy Butler as a free agent. Trades brought them Brett Lawrie, Marcus Semien and Josh Phegley, and they even worked out a deal that brought them a Rule 5 hitter, Mark Canha, right-handers all.

The idea was that the A’s, who were heavy in left-handers, needed some right-handed pop to be competitive in the American League.

It hasn’t turned out that way. Lawrie has five homers against left-handers and Phegley three, but no one else has more than one.

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Gray back with A’s, but a longshot to start Sunday vs. M’s; disabled list stint could be possible for likely All-Star

Sonny Gray seems unlikely to start Sunday after battling a case of salmonella

Sonny Gray seems unlikely to start Sunday after battling a case of salmonella

The A’s will be very careful with Sonny Gray, who is back with the team after suffering through a case of salmonella that had him in a hospital for two nights, and he is a longshot to be the Oakland starter Sunday in the series finale with the Mariners.

Gray said before Thursday’s game with Seattle that he was back to feeling mostly well for the first time since Sunday when the symptoms of dehydration and fever that first cropped up Saturday became serious.

Manager Bob Melvin and trainer Nick Paparesta both said the club would not be rushing Gray back into the rotation. His spot comes up again Sunday, and as it stands now, Chris Bassitt will start in Gray’s place. Bassitt stepped in as emergency starter Tuesday and allowed Colorado one run in five innings, although he took the loss.

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Vogt, Butler have high hopes for second 81 games

Billy Butler wants to see many more celebrations in second half for A's

Billy Butler wants to see many more celebrations in second half for A’s

The A’s want more than anything to use the second half of the season to show that their first 81 games, a 36-45 performance that has them dead last in the American League West, is a fluke.

Doing so will not be easy. The A’s terrible first half this year comes off a terrible second half last year. In their last 162 games the A’s are 73-89.

The faces are much different, but while the 2014 team had such a good first half that even a 37-44 limp to the finish got them to the wild card game, Oakland now faces playing .600 ball (49-32) just to get in the hunt.

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Gray has gastroenteritis, could be out of hospital soon

Sonny Gray was still in the hospital with gastroenteritis Wednesday afternoon, but was expected to get released later in the day or Thursday.

Sonny Gray was still in the hospital with gastroenteritis Wednesday afternoon, but was expected to get released later in the day or Thursday.

Sonny Gray remained in the hospital midday Wednesday with a severe case of bacterial gastroenteritis with the A’s hoping he could be released Wednesday evening or sometime Thursday.

Gray, who was scratched from Tuesday’s start after being hospitalized, would next be scheduled to start Sunday, but the A’s can’t say if he’ll be ready to start then, so Chris Bassitt, who threw five one-run innings after being called up from Triple-A Nashville Tuesday, will be kept around to start if Gray can’t.

The pitcher, who had a high fever that is now under control, is being hydrated and given antibiotics to battle the problem and manager Bob Melvin said Gray was feeling better Wednesday than he had Tuesday.

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The halfway point sell-off looms as A’s stumble once again on crucial homestand

We’re still a couple of weeks from the All-Star break but the A’s will actually reach the 81-game midway point with Wednesday afternoon’s interleague series finale against the Colorado Rockies. Gosh, how time flies when you’re having fun.

At 35-45 through the first 80, the writing is pretty much on the wall for the 2015 A’s and it reads, “Not entirely hopeless, but …” They looked like they had something going when they won five in a row on the road coming into a 10-game homestand. But with four losses in five games at the Coliseum confines, Oakland is on the precipice. A bad weekend against Seattle could set the course of the club’s second half long before anyone anticipated it.

If Billy Beane could get such a strong read on last year’s club at the midway point — the A’s were 51-30 through 81 games in 2014, in case you were wondering — it doesn’t take a mind reader to know what Beane must be thinking right now.

Sell, and sell fast. He has marketable commodities with which he can reap long-term gains and the sooner he can move impending free agents like Scott Kazmir, Ben Zobrist, Tyler Clippard and possibly even Eric O’Flaherty, the more he will likely get in return from clubs in need for the second-half playoff push.

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