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A’s hoping Crisp’s time out due to pinkeye will be short; Muncy’s RBI single drives in only run of intrasquad game

Coco Crisp will miss some time after coming down with conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye.

Coco Crisp will miss some time after coming down with conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye.

The A’s are looking at being without Coco Crisp for Tuesday’s start of the Cactus League season after the center fielder missed Saturday’s workout having come down with a case of pinkeye.
“He wasn’t here today; we hope he’ll be here tomorrow, but we don’t know,’’ manager Bob Melvin said.
Crisp didn’t start for nine consecutive days from Sept. 19-27, 2012, with the same problem.
“We’re hoping we’ve caught it early,’’ Melvin said. “He came in with it yesterday and we’ve got him at home now hoping this resolves itself quickly.’’
Pinkeye, known medically as conjunctivitis, manifests itself in redness as swelling of the eyelid and eye surface, which becomes red and swollen. It’s a contagious affliction, but is usually not serious and goes away in 7-10 days without medical treatment.
Crisp, who was wearing sunglasses indoors Thursday, when he talked with the media about his new iPhone game app, Coco’s Fro Patrol, didn’t start a game from Sept. 19-27 in 2012 because of pinkeye as the A’s were in the middle of their dramatic rally to edge Texas on the season’s last day for the American League West title.
“We’re hoping very much that it’s not going to take him that long this time,’’ Melvin said. “But if it had to happen, this is a good time, with so much of the spring left.’’
Even before this, Melvin wasn’t planning on putting Crisp in center field in the early going of the Cactus League, which opens Tuesday with the A’s hosting the Giants with lefty Brad Mills on the mound.
Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld have plenty of experience in center field, but Melvin pointed to infielders Matt Olson, Tyler Ladendorf, Andy Parrino and Alden Carrithers as being likely to pick up playing time with Crisp out.
The manager said he felt Crisp, who has a history of being able to return to play quickly after being sidelined, would only need one or two nine-inning games to be ready to go for the season.
Crisp, 36, is the A’s leadoff hitter and the man who usually makes the offense go. Oakland is protective of his health, and the A’s would love to see him start more than the 126 games in which he played last year.
Since 2010, the A’s are 303-252 with Crisp in the lineup, a .546 winning percentage, and 130-125 without him, .510.

–Threatening skies held off Saturday morning and early afternoon as the A’s got in a four-inning intrasquad game.
Only one run was scored, that on an RBI single by minor league infielder Max Muncy, who drove in Billy Burns. Burns was hit by a Brock Huntzinger pitch in the second, took second on an Eric Sogard single and scored on Muncy’s one-out hit.
The game was played with particular attention to the new baseball rules on batters staying in the batter’s box between pitches if they don’t swing.
“We’re just trying to get a feel for the new rules,’’ Melvin said.
Fernando Rodriguez, who threw a scoreless second inning, was singled out by the manager for his performance, as was R.J. Alvarez, who walked the first two men he faced, then came back to strike out the next two before getting an inning-ending grounder.
And then there was switch pitcher Pat Venditte. He warmed up as a left-hander, then started the inning as a right-hander against right-hander Rangel Ravelo before moving back to the left side to close out the inning.
Melvin also singled out the defensive work of outfielders Gentry and Fuld and infielders Brett Lawrie and Marcus Semien.

–Chad Smith, claimed off waivers from the Tigers, reported to camp Saturday. The A’s will work him into the pitching mix in the next day or two.
“I’m excited to be here,’’ Smith said. “You really don’t expect to be traded. You think it will be the other guy. But I have some family in the Bay Area, which is nice.

–The A’s starters for the first three games of the Cactus League season will be lefty Brad Mills, right-hander Jesse Chavez and lefty Barry Zito.
–Ryan Doolittle, the right-handed brother of A’s lefty Sean Doolittle, pitched the final half inning Saturday and showed a lively fastball.
–Alex Hassan, picked up on a waiver claim from the Orioles, should be in the A’s camp Sunday

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Nolin’s ongoing pain has him out of rotation mix for now

The A’s will not get a look at left-handed starting pitching candidate Sean Nolin for a while.

Oakland had hoped a flat ground throwing session Saturday would indicate Nolin was ready to throw off a mound following off-season sports hernia surgery.

Manager Bob Melvin said that the throwing did not go well.

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Chavez’s `mid-season form’ in spring debut impresses Melvin

Jesse Chavez starts this year as he did last year, feeling he has something to prove to the A's.

Jesse Chavez starts this year as he did last year, feeling he has something to prove to the A’s.

Here’s what A’s manager Bob Melvin said about Jesse Chavez’s first session throwing off a mound in camp Friday:

“He looks in mid-season form every time I ever see him,’’ Melvin said, “whether he’s throwing bullpen, or in a game early. Impressive. He’s a very focused kid who comes here with the mindset he has something to prove. That’s always what you like to see.’’

Twelve months ago he said virtually the same thing and Chavez went out and won a job in the starting rotation after beginning the spring with 12.2 scoreless innings in the Cactus League.

Chavez will have something to prove again. Last year he got an unexpected chance to start when Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin went down with season-ending Tommy John surgeries. Chavez lost his job in the rotation after 21 starts in which he posted a 3.44 ERA as the A’s traded for veteran starter Jon Lester at the trade deadline.

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A’s likely not done dealing after Norris exits for two arms

The trade of Derek Norris brings two good arms into the A's camp and leaves open more possible moves.

The trade of Derek Norris brings two good arms into the A’s camp and leaves open more possible moves.

You have to wonder what’s next for the A’s.

Billy Beane & Co. have spent the last six weeks stocking up on young talent, most of it pitching, including right-handed starter Jesse Hahn and right-handed reliever J.R. Alvarez who are the newest additions with Derek Norris having been traded to the Padres Thursday night.

Already five of the seven players the A’s had at the All-Star Game this season are off the roster, and as Norris told me Thursday night, it seems like the A’s “are looking to rebuild’’ heading into 2015.

Norris may be right about that, but it seems more than a little possible that Beane is loading up for one big swing between now and the start of spring training. With Matt Kemp off the block now, the biggest bats known to be available are outfielder Justin Upton of the Braves and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies.

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A’s need Doolittle badly, but they won’t rush him off DL

Sean Doolittle wants to come back badly, but the A's won't rush him, even in a bullpen crisis.

Sean Doolittle wants to come back badly, but the A’s won’t rush him, even in a bullpen crisis.

How much do the A’s miss closer Sean Doolittle?

It’s not just that Oakland has blown one-run leads in the ninth inning the last two days and have lost 11 times in their last 15 games with their closer out to see a once firm grasp on the playoffs start to squirm away.

It’s that the A’s whole bullpen works better when he’s around. Over a longer stretch the A’s are 8-19, but the bullpen was holding together when before Doolittle landed on the disabled list with an intercostal (right side) muscle problem.

The A’s were 4-8 in the stretch from Aug. 10 to the time of Doolittle’s injury two weeks later. When he was around, the A’s had a 1.53 ERA in those dozen games. The team was losing, but not because of the bullpen.

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A’s aren’t same as three months ago, but they need to be

Celebrations like this May 27 grand slam from Derek Norris have been hard to come by for the A's lately

Celebrations like this May 27 grand slam from Derek Norris have been hard to come by for the A’s lately

The A’s could get Coco Crisp and John Jaso back this weekend and Sean Doolittle back early next week.

When they do, the A’s will start looking a little more like themselves.

This team is not the team it was at the end of June.

Back then they were trotting out a three-catcher platoon, with Jaso, Derek Norris and Stephen Vogt all major contributors. Yoenis Cespedes was in left field. Brandon Moss was at first base.

Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz and Brad Mills were all in the starting rotation.

With such a drastic makeover, it’s small wonder that the A’s aren’t playing like they did in April, May and June.

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A’s: Starters Gray, Kazmir and Chavez earn extra time off

Sonny Gray will get extra time off thanks to the All-Star break, as will Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez.

Sonny Gray will get extra time off thanks to the All-Star break, as will Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez.

The A’s have asked much of their starting pitchers in the first half.

Between then, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez have averaged 119 innings per man in the first half, during which they’ve gone 28-12 with a combined 2.77 ERA.

They are using a rejiggered rotation after the All-Star break to maximize the amount of time each will get off. To do that, manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young have gone with newly acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to handle the first two games after the All-Star break Friday and Saturday against the Orioles in Oakland.

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A’s: Unicorn mask latest bit of oddity in Oakland clubhouse

Reliever Joe Savery had charge of the A's unicorn backpack earlier this season.

Reliever Joe Savery had charge of the A’s unicorn backpack earlier this season.

It’s really true that you can never tell what you’ll see upon walking into the Oakland A’s clubhouse.

It could be players challenging themselves to coat their gums with nuclear hot sauce.

It could be a full sized Darth Vader helmet painted in the A’s Green and Gold gracing the center of the room.

Or it could be players taking turns wearing a large white unicorn mask.

Saturday pregame, it was the unicorn’s turn.

To be clear, the A’s have had a unicorn with them for a couple of years now. The backpack that the relievers fill with sunflower seeds, candy and nuts for the couple of hours they will spend in the bullpen has a unicorn on the back of it.

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One-third of the way through 2014, A’s numbers imposing

A's have had plenty to celebrate in first one-third of the season.

A’s have had plenty to celebrate in first one-third of the season.

The last week hasn’t been much for the A’s, what with being swept in a three-game series in Toronto and then coming home and having to settle for getting a split with the Detroit Tigers.

It’s as well to be noted that the Blue Jays have the best record in the American League East. The Tigers have the best record in the AL Central. And, yes, the A’s have the best record in the AL West exactly one-third of the way through the 162-game schedule.

For the first 54 games they’ve played, the A’s have been perhaps the most dominant team in the league. It doesn’t always get reflected in the winning percentage – Toronto, Detroit and Oakland are all in the range of .600, which over the course of the year would come out to 97 wins.

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Kazmir says he’s available to pitch if needed after ejection

Scott Kazmir is ready to pitch again if needed.

Scott Kazmir is ready to pitch again if needed.

Scott Kazmir had been looking forward to pitching Saturday as much as he’d looked forward to any start this season.

He was in the Cleveland starting rotation in 2013 and this was going to be his one chance to pitch against the Tribe in Cleveland this season as a member of the A’s rotation.

Then he got ejected in the second inning by umpire Jerry Layne.

“It’s very frustrating,’’ Kazmir said of being tossed after getting only four outs. “I was looking forward to this start. I actually felt really good.

“Actually this was the best I’ve felt going out there. I was hitting all my spots. It just didn’t work out.’’

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