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Moss a first baseman, but still armed and able in outfield

After catching a strong throw from Brandon Moss, Derek Norris tagged Orioles Nick Markasis at plate to extend Friday's game to 11th inning, when A's won, 4-3

After catching a strong throw from Brandon Moss, Derek Norris tagged Orioles Nick Markasis at plate to extend Friday’s game to 11th inning, when A’s won, 4-3

On the All-Star ballot, Brandon Moss is listed as a designated hitter.

On the A’s lineup card most days, Moss is listed as a first baseman.

So it’s easy to forget that Moss began his baseball life as an outfielder.

The Baltimore Orioles won’t soon forget, not after Friday night, when Moss threw a bullet from right field to the plate, enabling Derek Norris to tag out the sliding Nick Markakis, thereby denying the Orioles a 10th inning win.

The A’s went on to win the game 4-3 in the 11th, when Moss, as he does from time to time, struck out.

“I’m not a great outfielder as far as range and stuff,’’ Moss said. “But people don’t remember that I have a real good arm. That’s really my only defensive tool, but I’ve always had a real good arm. And when you don’t play the outfield a lot, and you play first base, people don’t remember.’’

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Tough roster move faces A’s before Tuesday in New York

Setup man Ryan Cook should be activated for Tuesday's game in New York.

Setup man Ryan Cook should be activated for Tuesday’s game in New York.

As May turned to June, the A’s found themselves closer to the roster they thought they might have in April.

Sunday’s recall of catcher Stephen Vogt gives the club three catchers, meaning manager Bob Melvin can play two of them on any given day (one of them as the designated hitter) and still have the ability to pinch-run.

That’s the way things worked for much of the middle of the 2013 season before injuries got in the way.

More than that, having a three-catcher ensemble means Melvin doesn’t have to fret about the scenario of having to either give up the designated hitter or have third baseman Josh Donaldson, a former catcher, get back behind the plate.

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Vogt family heads in different directions with callup news

Stephen Vogt and his family were excited with the news the A's were recalling him.

Stephen Vogt and his family were excited with the news the A’s were recalling him.

Stephen Vogt’s Sunday night was all planned out. The Sacramento River Cats were playing in Fresno, about 30 miles from where he great up.

With Sacramento and Fresno scheduled to play a 2 p.m. game, he was going to have a big dinner with a large group of friends and family.

So it wasn’t surprising after Saturday’s game that has grandmother said, “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow night.’’

What was surprising was Vogt’s answer.

“I had to tell her, `no, you won’t,’’ Vogt said. He’d just gotten the news that he was being called up by the A’s. Oakland was desperately short of left-handed sock with Brandon Moss (calf) and Josh Reddick (knee) unable to play until at least Tuesday, and Vogt was the club’s best option.

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All-Star voting underscores phasing-out of A’s platoon

Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie (right) are two of the four A's who rank in the AL All-Star balloting announced Tuesday.

Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie (right) are two of the four A’s who rank in the AL All-Star balloting announced Tuesday.

You have to dig deep to get to the last A’s position player to make an American League All-Star team.

Try catcher Ramon Hernandez, back in 2003.

If the first release of AL All-Star votes are any indication, that streak may be about to end. Third baseman Josh Donaldson had a lead of over 50,000 votes on the Rays’ Evan Longoria, Derek Norris was third at catcher behind Matt Wieters and Brian McCann while Brandon Moss (DH) and Jed Lowrie (shortstop) both ranked fifth at their positions.

“It’s not a new story,’’ Moss said of the lack of representation before this year. “We know J.D. should have been there last year. Red (Josh Reddick) should have been there in 2012.’’

Donaldson said the voting isn’t just about him but about the overall quality of the names on the roster that are producing.

“I feel like we have a bunch of guys in this clubhouse who are very good players and who are eventually going to garner national attention,’’ he said. “There’s a reason we’ve won the number games we have the last few years (94 in 2012, 96 last year and 31 in 51 games this year). It’s because we have really good players in the clubhouse.’’

The A’s have 221 regular-season wins since the start of the 2012 season. The second-best team in the AL over that stretch has 210, Texas.

Donaldson took it a little bit personally last week when college basketball voice Dick Vitale described the roster as composed of “no names.’’

“I don’t think that we are no-names,’’ he said. “We have guys in this clubhouse who go out there on a daily basis and prove to people across the country that they’re pretty good baseball players.’’

This could be, maybe even should be a breakthrough year for the A’s offense vis-à-vis the All-Star Game. Oakland came into Thursday having scored 258 runs the most in the American League.

Since the All-Star break last year, Donaldson has scored more runs (81) than any other player in the league. Lowrie has hit the most doubles (36). Moss is tied with the Blue Jays’ Edwin Encarnacion for the most homers (28) and has the outright lead with the most RBIs (85).

The odd part is that Norris, and to a lesser extent, Moss, has garnered the recognition without playing every day. Norris (.316, five homers, 24 RBIs) has only started 30 of the 51 games and wasn’t in the lineup Tuesday. Moss had started 44 times in left, right, at first base and as the DH.

Manager Bob Melvin, who hadn’t been willing to say it explicitly before Tuesday, said neither should be considered a part-time player.

“They started out as platoon guys,’’ Melvin said. “Moss has played all but one game this year (including coming off the bench). So I wouldn’t consider him a platoon player. And really Derek has thrust himself into this role based on production. Today’s a day off for him. He’s had a pretty rough schedule catching.

“You get that moniker and it’s difficult to get past that at times. But certainly if you look at the voting, they are getting looked at the way that they should.’’

The manager suggested that the A’s are being seen more now as a team comprised of good players rather than as “the little engine that could.’’

“Nationally we are getting recognition as a team,’’ he said. “So I think as a whole, people are starting to look at us other than as `that team’ but are starting to notice the individual players.’’

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A’s ignore clubhouse note and club Tigers 10-0

On Monday, the following was written on the white board next to where the A’s lineup is posted daily in their clubhouse.

Slow torture vs. Instant kill

Slow torture is a team approach.

Instant kill is an individual approach.

Home runs end rallies, not start them.

Keep pitchers in the stretch and trust your teammates.

Pass the torch if necessary….

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A’s level of respect for Abad continues to soar

The A’s had been perfectly delighted with what Fernando Abad has done for them this season.

That level of respect skyrocketed Wednesday with the way he pitched the A’s out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam against Tampa Bay with the A’s clinging to a 3-2 lead over the Rays.

It’s true that Abad came in with men on first and third after Luke Gregerson gave up back-to-back hits with one out and walked pinch-hitter David DeJesus to load the bases. And it’s true that Abad induced an inning-ending double play from Yunel Escobar, leaving Sean Doolittle the one-run lead to protect in the ninth.

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Norris makes eternity work for him in 14-pitch at-bat

Derek Norris's 14-pitch at-bat Tuesday wore down Tampa Bay pitching.

Derek Norris’s 14-pitch at-bat Tuesday wore down Tampa Bay pitching.

Eight pitches into his fourth inning at-bat Tuesday, Derek Norris asked himself a simple question.

“Will this at-bat never end?’’

It almost never did. With Norris fouling off every pitch that was close to the plate, it was not until the 14th pitch that the battle between Norris and Tampa Bay pitcher Jake Odorizzi reached a conclusion. Norris walked in the longest single plate appearance of the season for the A’s.

And if you think that perhaps it was just Norris feeling that way, consider Odorizzi’s point of view of his fourth-inning ordeal. He called it “an eternity.’’ In all he threw 40 pitches in the inning

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A’s getting most mileage from their catchers in the AL

Derek Norris (above) and John Jaso have given A's most muscle from catching position.

Derek Norris (above) and John Jaso have given A’s most muscle from catching position.

Sometimes the A’s hear words of praise for their willingness to use a platoon. Just as often the words are of scorn.

Oakland has made the platoon thing work, however, particularly at catcher where John Jaso and Derek Norris have formed a 1-2 punch that has helped the A’s put together an offense that has scored 187 runs (heading into Monday), the second-best total in the American League.

It’s no stretch to say that the A’s have gotten more mileage from their catchers than any team in the American League. Together Jaso and Norris have combined for a .338 average, a .419 on-base percentage, a .507 slugging percentage and a .927 OPS (on-base plus slugging).

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3-0, D-No powers A’s over Gio

Derek Norris blasted a pair of 3-0 count, three-run home runs off former A's All-Star Gio Gonzalez in Sunday's 9-1 win. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Derek Norris blasted a pair of 3-0 count, three-run home runs off former A’s All-Star Gio Gonzalez in Sunday’s 9-1 win. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

I’m going to keep this pretty short and sweet since we had a nice easy game and I’m going to try to get home in time to enjoy the rest of Mothers’ Day.

Most of the talk of the day can be found in the game story, which is posted here and should be updated shortly. This was all about Derek Norris’ domination of Gio Gonzalez, the player for which he was once traded.

That December 2011 deal in which the A’s sent away their All-Star Gonzalez netted Tommy Milone and Derek Norris along with Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole. Considering the events of this weekend, including Milone’s eight innings of shutout ball in a win Friday, that trade looks pretty good right now.

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Is more playing time in Derek Norris future?

Derek Norris is on a 13-for-27 tear in his last nine games.

Derek Norris is on a 13-for-27 tear in his last nine games.

Is it time for Derek Norris to get more playing time?

If it’s not now, it never will be. The catcher doubled in his first two at-bats Tuesday, driving in three runs while leading the A’s offense to a 9-3 win over Texas.

He’s 13-for-27 over his last nine games and with four consecutive multiple-hit games, he has eight hits in his last 13 at-bats.

The thing is, Norris is a right-hander and as such gets to play against left-handed starting pitching such as Martin Perez of the Rangers, who came into  Tuesday as the American League’s ERA leader.

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