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Rosales recall the end for Weeks as A’s seek help?

It’s been clear for a while, but today’s move to bring back Adam Rosales shouts the message that there is no room in Oakland for Jemile Weeks.

The winter before last, Weeks was the one untouchable player on the A’s roster after a .303 rookie season at second base. But he languished through a .221 sophomore slump in 2012 and this year he isn’t ever being talked about as being in the mix by the A’s front office.

For the month of July, Weeks is hitting .357 and that’s brought his overall average up to .282, so he appears to have recaptured the offense he lost last season.

Weeks appears to see the writing on the wall. He’s split time between second base and shortstop in the infield and has voluntarily made the move to the outfield, where he’s made 11 appearances for Triple-A Sacramento. Being more versatile will only add to his appeal.

But at this point, his appeal in Oakland is minimal. It seems likely he’ll be traded sooner or later, because the A’s have fallen out of love with him.

Rosales brings some defensive skills with him, but he was a .200 hitter with four homers in 48 games with the A’s before being taken off the roster and shipped to Sacramento, where he hit .240 in six games.

If the A’s are going to chase offensive improvement with the trading deadline just a week away, it’s almost certainly going to be at second base or shortstop.

The Phillies are fading a bit in the NL East (second place, but seven games behind Atlanta), and they seem willing to at least consider letting Chase Utley go, although it’s not clear how much they’d want in return or indeed if they are going to be buyers or sellers at the deadline.

Utley, hitting .286 with 13 homers, is 34 years old and will be a free agent next year, and could be just the thing for the A’s if they could pry him loose.

On the other end of the spectrum, if the A’s want to just bring in a solid defensive player at shortstop and move Jed Lowrie to full-time duty at second base, they could probably get Seattle’s Brendan Ryan for very little now that Ryan has become a backup in the Pacific Northwest.

The A’s have one more option at Triple-A in Hiro Nakajima, but his situation isn’t all that much better than Weeks’. Nakajima is riding a 14-game hitting streak (20-for-56, .357) through Tuesday, the longest such streak for a Sacramento player this season.

But while he’s brought his average up 19 points to .286 since July 4, he didn’t seem to be in the conversation either when the decision to bring Rosales up was made

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Game 100 wrapup: Moss doesn’t like his footwork; Jaso feeling better after being hit on the noggin; Parker no fan of `terrible fundamentals’

If position players could have wins and losses applied to their stat sheets, Brandon Moss would demand that Tuesday’s loss go on his.

There were three throw that came to first base in the course of the game that were errant in one way or another, and he felt he should have played better defense on them all.

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Game 78 wrapup: Straily sent down as A’s consider options; Jaso pinch-hits, catches, still feels pain; Melvin alters pinch-hitting strategy

Dan Straily was caught off guard Sunday afternoon when he was summoned into a quick meeting with A’s manager Bob Melvin after a 6-3 loss to Seattle.

Straily, who has been in the Oakland rotation since a stress fracture in Brett Anderson’s right foot put the opening day starter on the disabled list, was given the word. He was being sent down to Triple-A Sacramento, at least for a short time.

Oakland has a day off Monday, another Thursday and a third next Monday. With all that extra time, the A’s will not need to employ a fifth starter until July 6. So the A’s will bring up a fresh face, although the club said no decision has been made yet on who might get the call.

Since the bullpen will be, theoretically at least, rested with two days off in four days, it’s unlikely to be a reliever. It won’t be a starter, since there’s no need. So it almost certainly will be a position player. The A’s are a little short at catcher and at middle infielder, so the likely choices would be catcher Luke Montz or one of two infielders, either Andy Parrino or Hiro Nakajima.

The A’s aren’t getting much production out of catcher Derek Norris (.188) or part-time shortstop Adam Rosales (.195). Montz is hitting .265 with some power and did an adequate job as third catcher when he was up earlier. And Nakajima, who had a big hot streak to get up to .320 for Sacramento, fell down to the low .270s before rebounding to .279 entering Sunday.

As for Straily, he may be the man who gets the call when the A’s need a fifth starter again, but as both he and manager Bob Melvin said, there are no guarantees.

“There’s nothing promised,’’ Melvin said. “Do we want it to be Dan? Absolutely. But we don’t want him going do there with no sense of urgency.’’

For his part, Straily took the demotion in stride as much as was possible.

“With all these days off, it was either this or be the long man in the bullpen,’’ he said. “I have the confidence I’ll be back. There’s no reason to get down. This isn’t the desired (move).

“But I have to go down and make sure I’m still first on the list. Just like every other time I’ve gone down.’’

 

–John Jaso enter Sunday’s game as a pinch-hitter after having missed three consecutive starts with a nasty abrasion on the palm of his left hand.

Did he come back too early? Jaso seemed to think he did.

“I took some swings off a tee, and it felt OK,’’ Jaso said. “(But in the game) I took a swing and it still hurt.’’

The A’s are hoping that a day off Monday will leave Jaso good to go Tuesday night against Cincinnati.

Jaso was involved on one of the key plays in the game in the 10th inning when he couldn’t block a pitch in the dirt that had the Mariners’ Mike Zunino struck out. Zunino wound up getting to first base safely on the wild pitch from Grant Balfour and the Mariners went on to win on a three-run homer by Kendrys Morales.

“I rushed the throw a little, and I didn’t have to,’’ Jaso said. “And that cost us there. If I’d slowed down and collected myself, I would have had him.’’

–Melvin likes to use as few players when making a move as possible.

He went against that philosophy in the ninth inning when he used first baseman Nate Freiman to hit for second baseman Eric Sogard with a man on first base and one out.

In the past he would have used Adam Rosales, who could then have come in to play second base for Sogard. Instead, Freiman was used (he flew out) and Rosales came in to play defense, leaving only Chris Young available on the bench.

It turned out to be not a huge deal, but it could have been if the Mariners and A’s had gone past the 10th inning.

Rosales is 0-for-11 with five strikeouts as a pinch-hitter and it may be that Melvin is running out of time waiting for Rosales to contribute in that situation. The shortstop/second baseman is hitting just .195 overall, but take away those 11 at-bats and he’s hitting a marginally more respectable .214

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Angel Hernandez, Adam Rosales meet again

For the first time since that series in Cleveland when Adam Rosales hit the homer that wasn’t, the A’s are meeting up with Angel Hernandez again.

Hernandez, who ruled that Rosales’ fly ball to left-center field in Progressive Field was a double rather than the home run that the video replay clearly showed it to be, is behind home plate tonight.

When he made the call against Rosales and the A’s on May 8, Hernandez was on second base. Tonight, as was the case then, He’s the umpiring crew chief.

Will there be any hangover from that last series when Major League Baseball essentially said, `Yeah, it was the bad call, but there’s nothing we can do about it’’

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Game 62 wrapup: Straily’s learning curve; Balfour survives Dunn’s deep drive; Reddick chooses strong throw over homer; Doolittle back to form

Dan Straily retired the first seven White Sox batters he faced and the last seven he faced.

In between, there were some rocky moments. But it’s fair to think that Straily’s role in the A’s 10-inning 5-4 win over Chicago could serve as a positive learning experience for the 24-year-old right-handed starter.

The Sox got him for three runs in the third, putting together four hits in the space of five batters. After Oakland had crept close at 3-2, the Sox added a run on an Alejandro De Aza single in the fifth and tried to add a second on a sacrifice fly.

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Lowrie’s `D’ isn’t suffering by alternating positions

Jed Lowrie doesn’t get defensive when he’s congratulated for his defensive prowess, which has been happening a lot lately.

He does wonder what the big deal is, however. Patrolling at shortstop is part of his job description, and he takes great pride in it.

But all you have to do is look at Thursday’s lineup against the Chicago White Sox, where Lowrie and his .319 batting average are batting second to see what the issue is.

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Game 43 wrapup: Melvin’s against-the-book move; Doolittle doing a lot; Okajima back in MLB again

If you want an unsung hero for Friday’s 2-1 Oakland win over Kansas City, look for the man who made out the lineup.

Manager Bob Melvin did something Friday he hadn’t done all season. He had Adam Rosales, who generally starts only against left-handed pitching, start “because I liked the right-handed matchup there’’ against K.C.’s James Shields.

And it was Rosales who hit the tie-breaking solo homer off Shields in the eighth inning that gave the A’s the win in the first of a three-game set.

Rosales did have some stat cred against Shields. He’d only faced him five times, but he’d had two hits, both of them doubles. Eric Sogard, who had only three at-bats and no hits against Shields, normally starts against right-handers, but Melvin went with the numbers, including the fact that Sogard was hitting .178 in his last 20 games.

It won’t necessarily happen again, but Melvin is perfectly comfortable going against the lefty-righty book if circumstances suggest it.

“It’s not something I’ll be doing,’’ he said when asked if he would play Rosales at short against right-handers with regularity. “But in this instance, with Rosey’s two doubles off Shields, that made a difference.’’

Make that two doubles and a homer.

 

–One reason the A’s were able to track down the Rangers in 2012 was the performance of a previously unheralded bullpen.

It’s not as unheralded this time around, but the performances from the likes of Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour have been every bit as good as they were last year. Or better.

Doolittle improved to 3-0 with one scoreless inning, the eighth, Friday against K.C., and Balfour closed out his seventh save by getting the Royals in order, cutting through the 3-4-5 spot in Kansas City’s batting order.

Doolittle, a lefty, has a 1.00 ERA. Balfour, the right-handed closer, is down to 1.65. And when you throw in right-hander Ryan Cook’s 1.93, Oakland has eighth- and ninth-inning performance worth of note.

“In that situation in the eighth or ninth, that game is yours,’’ Doolittle said. “you’ve got to go out there feeling invincible. I’m just trying to keep it simple and not giving the hitter room to get comfortable.’’

Melvin admits his job is made easier knowing he can count on his club dominating the game if it’s close in the eighth or later.

“That’s one of the strengths of the club, when it’s late in the game and we’re in position (to win),’’ he said. “Doolittle is throwing lights-out. It’s tough for anybody to put a good swing against him.

“Today it all fell together, getting the homers late, then getting Doolittle and Balfour out there in that spot.’’

 

–For four seasons and a portion of a fifth, Hideki Okajima pitched in the big leagues, and he loved every minute of it.

But the Red Sox let him pitch most of the 2011 season in Triple-A Pawtucket, then the Yankees let him go in the spring of 2012, after which he pitched for Soft Bank in Japan.

Now he’s back in the Major Leagues, called up Friday when the A’s released right-handed reliever Chris Resop, who’d struggled the last three weeks.

“I was hoping to make it back to the Major Leagues,’’ Okajima said through interpreter Jason Eda. “I’m very excited to get back here. I was surprised when they told me I was coming up, but to come back from Japan (in 2012) to the United States is a good feeling.’’

Okajima’s catcher for much of his time at Triple-A was Luke Montz, and Montz gave the move a solid thumb’s up.

“Just before I got called up, he pitched in back-to-back games for the first time,’’ Montz said. “He saved them both. He got to where he was throwing his changeup, and they hitters, they just were not seeing that pitch. He was fun to catch.’’

The move made sense for a couple of reasons. One, Okajima’s changeup and curve had been dominant pitches for him at Triple-A after he’d ironed out some kinks. Two, his contract said that if he wasn’t called up by June 1, he’d have the right to declare free agency, so if there was ever a time to give him a try, it was now.

“He’s been throwing really well,’’ Melvin said. “We’ve been having to be careful with (lefties) Doolittle and (Jerry) Blevins, but we’d been using them a lot. Adding a third left-hander makes a lot of sense, all things considered.’’

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Game 39 wrapup: Moss strikes out four times on 14 pitches; Rosales sees the humor in lost homer

It was the kind of game that left A’s right fielder Brandon Moss scratching his head.

He struck out four times. He saw 14 pitches.

“You can’t do much worse than that,’’ he said. “I guess I could have struck out on 12 pitches. Overall, it wasn’t a very good day.’’

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The homer that wasn’t still a topic of conversation

As most of you know, before I took over covering the A’s this year, I used to cover the Mariners.

Before covering the Mariners, I covered the A’s way back when, but that’s not the issue in front of us.

The thing is, there were plenty of friendly faces when I made a quick pass through the Seattle clubhouse before Friday’s series opener.

Guess what they wanted to talk about? The home run that was denied the A’s Adam Rosales Wednesday night in Cleveland when video replay inexplicably went against him in the form of acting crew chief Angel Hernandez.

Now the Mariners didn’t want to go on the record. They don’t want to pay a penalty for speaking truth to power. There is an uneasy coexistence between players and umpires, and tilting the balance isn’t productive.

But they were plenty willing to talk about the play, which some of them saw live on a flight back to Seattle from Toronto.

“Man, what was that all about?’’ one player said. “That call was as bad as I’ve ever seen.’’

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