Josh Donaldson has spread his wings since leaving the A’s; History Channel spotlights him in `The Vikings’ in August

Josh Donaldson hasn't stopped hitting since moving to the Blue Jays, and he's a part-time actor, too.

Josh Donaldson hasn’t stopped hitting since moving to the Blue Jays, and he’s a part-time actor, too.

Josh Donaldson felt almost at home in the Coliseum before Friday’s A’s-Blue Jays game.

Sitting on the couch of equipment manager Steve Vucinich, the third baseman caught up with members of the organization with which he rose to national prominence in 2012-14.

Continue Reading


A’s options to replace Josh Reddick in lineup limited

Josh Reddick is lost to the A's for 4-6 weeks after fracturing his left thumb.

Josh Reddick is lost to the A’s for 4-6 weeks after fracturing his left thumb.

It’s time for the A’s pain train to call it a day.

One quarter of the way into the season the A’s use of the disabled list is already more than half of 2015’s DL numbers.

When Josh Reddick goes on the DL Friday, the A’s will have used to the DH 13 times and 12 of the 13 will still be in the trainer’s room.

The A’s have spent a lot of time the last few years talking about the need for versatility and depth. They began the spring with what they hoped were plenty of both, but things are beginning to sour.

The options for the A’s heading into Friday, when Reddick will officially go on the disabled list.

Max Muncy, called up earlier this week, could play right field. He’s a left-handed hitter with a little power and good on-base numbers. Oakland has been grooming him to play some third base, but he has spent half his season so far in the outfield and – mark this down – has a decent throwing arm.

Or Coco Crisp could play center field full time with Billy Burns shifting from center to right. Burns is not a natural right fielder. He played one game there earlier this year, on Sunday when he got in eight innings with Reddick getting the day off. But he has taken some fly balls there and could make a go of it. His arm isn’t great, but it’ll do.

Or Crisp or Khris Davis could move to right. This is not a great option for the A’s in that neither has a strong throwing arm and right field is a position where a strong throwing arm is a major asset.

The A’s will call up either Andrew Lambo or Jake Smolinski to take Reddick’s place on the roster. Smolinski has better numbers, but Lambo is a left-hander with power, and maybe the A’s can run into a bit of luck with him the way they did with Brandon Moss a few years ago.

Luck? That doesn’t sound much like the 2016 A’s.


Does Lambo have the stuff to be the new Brandon Moss?

Andrew Lambo doesn’t invite the comparison, but his arrival in Oakland has some striking parallels with that of Brandon Moss five years ago.

Both came aboard at low cost because of a miserable season the year before. Moss had just six big league at-bats in 2011 with the Phillies despite 23 homers and 80 RBI at Triple-A. He wouldn’t come up to the big leagues with Oakland until the middle of 2012, but once he did, he was in the middle of the A’s lineup, hitting 76 homers and driving in 220 runs in the next 2½ seasons.

Continue Reading


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. .



Doolittle feeling strongest yet after BP session Thursday; getting into a game before 2015 is over at top of his list

Sean Doolittle is feeling at the top of his game and hopes to show it before the year is out.

Sean Doolittle is feeling at the top of his game and hopes to show it before the year is out.

Sean Doolittle hasn’t enjoyed anything baseball-wise in the last few months as throwing a 26-pitch bullpen before Thursday’s game with the Indians.

The A’s left-handed closer, who has been limited to one game this season between dueling bouts of shoulder pain, took to the bullpen mound down the left field line in the Coliseum.

“I threw everything I have,’’ Doolittle said. “Fastball, slider, changeup. And it felt good. For the majority of it I was throwing about 90 percent, but for the last handful I threw as hard as I possibly could, just to see how my body would feel tomorrow.’’

Manager Bob Melvin said this was the best he’d seen Doolittle throw, better even than when he’d been activated briefly in May.

“The ball had a lot more whip,’’ Melvin said. “His arm was further way from his body. Before I think he was cautious about letting the ball go.

There’s not much that can save Doolittle’s season, but if he could get back on a mound for a game or two, or even more, that would mean he would be able to head into the off-season knowing that he’d been in a game and had competed.

“That’s the goal,’’ Doolittle said. “It would be great to get out there again.’’

Bob Melvin isn’t going to get Doolittle for all that much time, so what the left-hander does statistically isn’t all that important. But the manager said getting past that mental hump of just competing will be important heading to next year.

“`Pitching some this year is psychologically important for him,’’ Melvin said. “It’s one thing to throw in the bullpen. It’s another to get out there and compete.’’


–As currently constituted, the A’s don’t really have backups for shortstop Marcus Semien and second baseman Eric Sogard, but that could change in the near future.

Tyler Ladendorf began the season in Oakland, got sent down to Triple-A Nashville and almost immediately suffered a left ankle injury. He needed surgery and only recently has been getting some at-bats in Arizona on a rehab assignment.

Ladendorf is a shortstop/second baseman by trade, and he would give the A’s some depth at the position. He made an impression in spring training and likely would have been with the A’s for a sizable chunk of the season had he not suffered the ankle injury.


–Outfielder Jake Smolinski was an infielder in high school and got in some games at second base and third base early in his minor league career, but he’s always been seen as an outfielder.

That perception changed a little Thursday. Coach Ron Washington suggested it was time for Smolinski to take some grounders at first base. Smolinski agreed and went through a grueling 40-minute workout before the A’s came out for batting practice.

“Like everybody, I played infield in high school,’’ Smolinski said. “After I got drafted they moved me to the outfield and I’ve been mostly playing there ever since.

“When Wash came to ask me about first base, I was all for it. Being more versatile will help the team, and it will help me.’’



–Thursday was supposed to be Brandon Moss’s return to the Coliseum, but the Indians traded the former A’s first baseman/outfielder to the St. Louis Cardinals early in the day and he never made it to Oakland.

–Coco Crisp was due to play a full nine-inning game Thursday with Class-A Stockton as part of his injury rehab assignment. He’s scheduled for two more games testing his neck, after which he may be ready to be activated for the first time since May.

–Pat Venditte flew Thursday to join the Nashville Sounds. He’ll pitch for them Friday and Saturday, and could be activated if his right shoulder continues to be sound.

–The three runs Chris Bassitt allowed in the first inning Thursday was more than he’d allowed in any of his previous four starts.



Hahn gets shut down for two weeks with forearm strain

Jesse Hahn will have two weeks without throwing thanks to a right forearm strain, the A's say.

Jesse Hahn will have two weeks without throwing thanks to a right forearm strain, the A’s say.

The A’s got what they hope is good news Friday when an MRI revealed that starter Jesse Hahn has a right forearm strain.

Hahn, whose turn in the rotation Saturday in Progressive Field will be taken by Chris Bassitt, will be shut down for two weeks, after which he will be evaluated.

If two weeks without throwing doesn’t sound like good news, the A’s were just happy that there is no apparent elbow damage. Hahn said the pain was originating in his elbow, and elbow problems tend to be more problematic for pitchers.

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading


Lack of clutch performances suggest change is in the wind

A's GM Billy Beane has made to moves to tear up the roster, but it was at about this time in 2012 he did so, with great success.

A’s GM Billy Beane has made to moves to tear up the roster, but it was at about this time in 2012 he did so, with great success.

The A’s have built their entire season on statistical oddities, but none is quite as off the wall as having the worst record in the American League – 25-39 after Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Angels – while having outscored their opponents.

Albert Pujols homered in the first inning off A’s starter Kendall Graveman, and that was it for this one, Oakland’s 18th loss in 22 one-run games.

When the A’s win, they often win big, as they did Thursday in a 7-0 win over the Rangers. When it comes to close games, however, the A’s have minimal success despite having outscored opponents 265-257.

Oakland has been shut out six times while A’s pitchers have thrown nine shutouts. In the losses, the A’s were one swing away from at least tying the game in five of them, the exception being a 13-0 loss to the Twins on May 6.

It’s a much different story when you look at the shutouts the A’s have thrown. Final scores in the shutouts the A’s have won have included 12-0, 10-0, 8-0, 7-0, 5-0 (twice), 4-0 (twice) and 3-0.

Scores like that are the reason the A’s have more runs scored than allowed. But a 12-0 or 10-0 victory only counts for one victory. When it’s crunch time, this team hasn’t gotten it done.

You can see that in the A’s record in one-run games, now 4-18. The last three losses have all been by one run.

Those numbers are not all about the offense, although the hitters have bogged down plenty with the game one the line. The bullpen with its 5-15 record, has contributed mightily to the one-run loss stat, as has the American League’s worst defense.

It’s just these kinds of chaotic performances that will induce a general manager to start cleaning house, although A’s GM Billy Beane has made no moves in that direction yet.

But it’s worth noting that three years and a week ago, Beane began scuttling what the A’s had in what was a disappointing season – eight games under .500 and nine games out of first place in the American League West. He did it by bringing up reliever Sean Doolittle, then outfielder-turned-first baseman Brandon Moss from Triple-A in the space of three days. Later that June they added catcher Derek Norris to the mix, called up starter A.J. Griffin for the first time and brought in first baseman Chris Carter.

As the summer wore on, catcher-turned-third baseman Josh Donaldson, pitcher Dan Straily and shortstop Stephen Drew were brought in.

The team that was at one point 13 games out of first place, turned around, kicked into gear and won the American League West.

It’s hard to see that happening this year – the winning the division part, that is. The freefall collecting of new faces, that’s easy to see.



Samardzija happy to be with White Sox, but a little disappointed A’s didn’t keep roster together for 2015

Jeff Samardzija says A's would have been a force in 2015 if the team had been held together.

Jeff Samardzija says A’s would have been a force in 2015 if the team had been held together.

Jeff Samardzija came back to the Coliseum as a member of the Chicago White Sox Friday, his first visit since the 2014 season ended with Samardzija due to pitch Game 1 of the American League Division Series for the A’s, a game that never happened.

With Oakland holding a 7-3 lead in the eighth inning and an 8-7 lead in the 12th inning in Kansas City, the A’s couldn’t hold off the Royals in the Wild Card game. That ended Oakland’s season.

And if you think injuries are costing the A’s now, Samardzija said losing catcher Geovany Soto, now a teammate with the White Sox, in the second inning and center fielder Coco Crisp late in the game cost the A’s a trip to the World Series.

“If we win that game, there’s no doubt in my mind we’re going to the Series,’’ Samardzija said. “The momentum going to the winner of that game was something else.’’

Continue Reading


A’s look at Viciedo after taking Hassan in waiver claim; Butler/Reddick team wins Friday’s situational hitting trophy; Crisp enters ditigal age with Coco’s Fro Patrol app for iPhone

A's Billy Butler, left, and Josh Reddick walk off the field with winning trophy from today's situational hitting competition (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

A’s Billy Butler, left, and Josh Reddick walk off the field with winning trophy from today’s situational hitting competition (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

It seems that the A’s are in the market for a little more pop in the person of outfielder/third baseman Dayan Viciedo.

That’s the word from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, two days after the Chicago White Sox signed infielder Gordon Beckham and designated Viciedo for assignment. Chicago has 10 days to trade or release Viciedo.

Going after Viciedo makes a bit of sense from the A’s point of view. He hit 21 homers for the Sox last year and 25 three years ago. Oakland is in a bit of a power vacuum with the losses over the last seven months of Brandon Moss, Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes.

Vicideo, a right-handed hitter, could fill in as the left fielder over the current pairing of Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry, but the A’s defense would take a hit. And the offense would, too, because Viciedo doesn’t walk much and his .294 on-base percentage over the last three years offsets the 60 homers he’s hit in that spell.

But he is young, just 25, so he seems to have some upside the A’s find appealing. The Blue Jays reportedly also have some interest.

Earlier in the day Oakland did make a roster claim, adding outfielder Alex Hassan from the Orioles and put Griffin on the 60-day disabled list to make room.

The A’s had claimed Hassan from the Red Sox on Nov. 17, but lost him to a claim from Baltimore about a week later.

Hassan, who made his big league debut with the Sox last year by going 1-for-8, hit .287 with a .378 on-base percentage at Triple-A last year. He also had a .326 slugging percentage.


–The A’s had an atypical day Friday, skipping batters vs. pitchers and closing out with a situational hitting.

The win went to a team led by Billy Butler and Josh Reddick, the winners walking off Field 1 at Fitch Park with a trophy of sorts – a coffee maker and an MC Hammer bobblehead cobbled together by minor league hitting coordinator Greg Sparks.

Butler put the trophy above his locker after the workout.

“We struggled in situational hitting last year,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. He said that Ike Davis was “perfect when I saw him,’’ and added that Butler, Reddick, Fuld and Gentry all had good days.

“That’s something I can do,’’ Davis said. “You give up some outs, and that hurts your batting average, but it’s OK as long as it helps the team.’’


–Coco Crisp took a step into the digital world Thursday night, launching a game app for iPhones call Coco’s Fro Patrol.

The idea is to catch as many fly balls in the outfield as possible while dodging obstacles including gum and trash cans.

He got 150-plus viewers overnight, including former A’s first baseman Daric Barton, who ranks third on the early leaderboard. Crisp is first; his mother ranked fifth early in the day Friday.

“I could have launched it last year, but I wanted to make it as perfect as possible,’’ Crisp said. The concept was his, although he needed the help of web designers to get the program off the ground. “I know there will be some people who will find little faults with it, but it’s starting in a good place.’’

The game is free, although there is the possibility of expenditures depending on how fast and how deep into the game a player wants to get. The player gets one free “umpire’’ per day, while more can be purchased.

Crisp is a longtime gamer who has been trying to pick up college-level programing classes the last couple of years.

Some of his A’s teammates, who learned about the launch Thursday and Friday, were experimenting with it Friday morning.


–Saturday and Sunday see the A’s scheduled for back-to-back intrasquad games, but there is a good chance of rain, particularly on Sunday.

–Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin and Raul Alcantara threw bullpen sessions Friday while the rest of the staff took the day off from bullpens. All three seemed to come through the process well, although Griffin has a bruise on his left (non-throwing wrist).

–Jason Pridie, the only non-roster outfielder in camp before Hassan was claimed Friday, figures to get plenty of spring starts with the A’s looking to have Coco Crisp ease slowly into playing shape. Oakland figures Crisp only needs a couple of nine-inning games to be ready for the season. Also likely to get outfield time are infielders Tyler Ladendorf, Alden Carrithers, Matt Olson and Andy Parrino.

–The A’s signed a new four-year radio deal with 95. FM The Game that will see the A’s games broadcast there through the 2018 season. The A’s have been on 95.7 since 2011.