A’s lose another catcher as Carson Blair needs knee surgery

Catcher Carson Blair needs surgery on his left medial menisicus and his season is over.

Catcher Carson Blair needs surgery on his left medial menisicus and his season is over.

Maybe there is something in the local water that negatively impacts Oakland catchers.

The A’s lost rookie catcher Carson Blair for the season Saturday, the club announcing that Blair needs season-ending surgery for a medial meniscus tear. Manager Bob Melvin said Blair felt some discomfort in his left knee in a start Thursday, played through it only to have an MRI Friday reveal the problem.

The A’s have already lost catcher Josh Phegley for a year to a concussion and Stephen Vogt is just back and healthy after missing the better part of three weeks after taking a vicious foul tip off his groin.

Continue Reading


Davis’s season over with lip hip surgery due Thursday

Ike Davis will undergo surgery on a torn labrum in his left hip Thursday and won't be playing again this season for the A's.

Ike Davis will undergo surgery on a torn labrum in his left hip Thursday and won’t be playing again this season for the A’s.

A’s first baseman Ike Davis’s season is over thanks to a labrum tear in his left hip that will require surgery Thursday in Colorado.

Manager Bob Melvin said the results of the MRI Davis underwent Wednesday showed that Davis wasn’t healthy enough to keep on playing. The A’s had cut down his workload in recent weeks in the hopes he’d be able to stay on the field, but that didn’t work.

It’s been an injury-plagued year for Davis, who missed part of the spring with back problems and then spent over a month on the disabled list in May and June with quad problems. The first baseman said Wednesday he believed both those injuries were related to the hip problem, which has dogged him for several years.

“We took a while to get him back (from the quad injury),’’ Melvin said. “I thought once we got him back, he was over that hurdle. I guess it got progressively worse, and he wasn’t saying a whole lot about it.

“Recently, the last couple weeks, it got to where he wasn’t comfortable either swinging or running. It came to a head then, but it just wasn’t getting any better, and the MRI revealed he needed to have surgery.’’

Davis, a potential power bat who had 32 homers as recently as 2012, had just three homers for the A’s this year to go with 20 RBI and a .229 average. He had lost some bad speed this season as the hip injury got progressively worse, and his return to the A’s in 2016 is problematic.


–Closer Sean Doolittle could be back in the next couple of days after Thursday’s rehab performance for Triple-A Nashville., one inning in which he struck out the side.

The left-hander, who probably be eased back in as closer once he returns, missed the first couple of months of the season with a strained left rotator cuff, pitched in one game, then went back on the disabled list three days later with a left shoulder strain.

He’s made six appearances on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Nashville, giving up three hits and two runs while striking out 13. Melvin said he talked to Doolittle Friday and the conversation was mostly about the four pitches Doolittle threw Thursday that weren’t strikes.

“He feels great; we’ll probably see him here real soon,’’ Melvin said, adding that the radar gun clocking Doolittle’s fastball was at 92 or 93 mph, depending on the reading.

Asked about another rehab game or if he’d just be activated, Melvin said “we’ll see,’’ adding that the left-hander was still in Nashville Friday night.

“Currently,’’ Melvin said. “He’s currently there.’’


–Right-handed starter Kendall Graveman normally would have been down to pitch Saturday, but he’s being held back to Sunday so that ace Sonny Gray can pitch on his regular fifth day.

Graveman said he’s been scouring video to get to the heart of his recent troubles, and said that the extra day will be a help in that regard. After beginning the season 6-4 with a 3.16 ERA through July 4, he has a seven-game stretch in which he is 0-5 with a 6.89 ERA, leaving him at 6-9 and 4.27.

“When I’m going well, I don’t look at video that much,’’ Graveman said. “I do when things start not going my way. I’m trying to evaluate mechanics and my pitch selection.’’

He said that late-season fatigue, common in pitchers in their first full big league season, isn’t an issue.

“My body is feeling pretty good now,’’ he said. “I hit a patch there for a while where I wasn’t feeling good, but lately I’ve been better.’’



–The altercation involving a group of fans in Section 112 of the Coliseum Tuesday night in the first game of the two-game Dodgers series resulted in about half a dozen ejections, A’s director of stadium operations David Rinetti said Friday. He said he didn’t know of any arrests from the biggest fan uprising of the Coliseum season.

–Left fielder Coco Crisp (ankle, neck) and second baseman Brett Lawrie were back in the lineup Friday after both had missed the previous three games. Melvin said the return was fortuitous because he wants to use both against left-handed pitching – the Rays started lefty Drew Smyly Friday – and “we’re going to face quite a few left-handed pitchers coming up.’’

–The A’s and the rest of the American League West are down to face American League Central teams in interleague play. For Oakland, that means road trips to St. Louis and Milwaukee. The actual schedule has not been released.

–Friday was the return of John Jaso, who was part of the A’s three-man catching platoon of the last two years along with Derek Norris and Stephen Vogt. Jaso is wearing dreadlocks now which, Melvin said, was “not a surprise.’’ Concussion problems mean he’s no longer a catcher, getting an occasional start in the outfield but serving mostly as the DH. Jaso said he misses catching, “but my legs feel a lot fresher now than they would have if I was still behind the plate.’’  He’s had hamate injury problems that have limited him to 37 games and a .309 average.

–Melvin said the at-bats the club has seen from Mark Canha “are as good as we’ve seen from him all year, and that’s including a stretch earlier in the season when he was doing really well and hitting some balls out of the ballpark.’’ He’s playing even against right-handed pitching because he’s hit right-handers, including a .289 average and off of his nine homers. Canha came into Friday with eight hits in his last three games.

–Tyler Ladendorf was activated off the disabled list Friday after missing four months with a fractured ankle and optioned to Triple-A Nashville. He’s likely to be called up when the roster expands in September and the infielder probably would have spent much of the season with the A’s were it not for the injury, “especially with his versatility,’’ Melvin said.

–Melvin said disabled starting pitcher Jarrod Parker is “on the verge’’ of playing catch after his comeback from a second Tommy John surgery was delayed when he suffered a fracture of the medial epicondyle. Even so, he’s a longshot to pitch for the A’s this season.



Vogt still sore after foot surgery but feeling good once again

A's catcher Stephen Vogt has been cleared to run after spending 9.5 weeks in a surgical boot following foot surgery.

A’s catcher Stephen Vogt has been cleared to run after spending 9.5 weeks in a surgical boot following foot surgery.

Stephen Vogt has sore feet, but the A’s catcher isn’t complaining.

He spent 9½ weeks in a boot following surgery on his right foot Oct. 14, and the soreness is just a matter of getting acclimated to not having his foot encased in a boot for all that time.

His surgeon, Dr. Kenneth Jung, cleared him to start running last week and Vogt says he expects to be good to go when spring training starts in Mesa, Ariz. in a month’s time.

“There is soreness, but there is no pain, so that’s a huge improvement for me,’’ Vogt said. “I played in pain for the last three months of the year, and that’s gone. So even with the soreness, I’m feeling good physically.

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading


Healthy Jaso will catch, but wonders if it will be with the A’s

John Jaso wants to be back with the A's, but doesn't know if a trade is in his future.

John Jaso wants to be back with the A’s, but doesn’t know if a trade is in his future.

It’s possible that the A’s have done their damage at the 113th Winter Meetings and will cool their heels the rest of the week, but it’s not a solid bet.

Oakland still has at least one other player the A’s might consider moving, catcher John Jaso. To be sure, general manager  Billy Beane is a huge fan of Jaso, who works the count, has a habit of coming up with timely hits and who is an on-base machine.

On the down side, he’s had concussions the last two years that have taken him out of back-to-back stretch drives with Oakland. Doctors have given him the go-ahead to resume catching.

“I think that’s ancient history now,’’ Jaso told me Tuesday morning. “I’m moving on, starting my workouts and I’m ready to go. As of right now, I’m still planning on taking up catching again, whatever team I’m on.’’

Continue Reading


A’s could see all seven of their free agents gone in 2015

Starter Jon Lester is one of seven potential free agents the A's could see leave this off-season.

Starter Jon Lester is one of seven potential free agents the A’s could see leave this off-season.

Now that Madison Bumgarner is going to stop grabbing all the headlines, which should happen any day now, the clock is up and running on the 2015 season for the A’s, and for everyone else.

The A’s had visions that starter Jon Lester would have the same kind of impact on Oakland’s October as Bumgarner did for San Francisco’s. Lester, after all, had the second-best World Series ERA, 0.43, in history before Bumgarner’s MVP performance against the Royals lowered his career World Series ERA to 0.25, pushing Lester to third.

Now Lester is all but gone from the A’s. He said he loved his time in Oakland, and the A’s would like to have him back, but the money doesn’t work. Lester is going to get a contract in the range of $150 million from someone – the Red Sox, the Yankees and the Cubs lead the list of the usual suspects – that would all but break the bank in Oakland.

Continue Reading


A’s did well to get to post-season given their injury issues

Sean Doolittle's intercostal strain, putting him out for 18 games in August and September, rattled the A's bullpen.

Sean Doolittle’s intercostal strain, putting him out for 18 games in August and September, rattled the A’s bullpen.

Had they advanced to the American League Division Series against the Angels, the A’s likely would have been heavy underdogs.

That has nothing to do with how the A’s played the Angels this season, but because of the personnel Oakland would be able to put on the field.

Center fielder Coco Crisp suffered a hamstring injury not long before the A’s suffered a 9-8, 12-inning loss to the Royals in Kansas City. Catcher Geovany Soto jammed his thumb in the first inning and had to come out of the game in the third.

Manager Bob Melvin said Wednesday the injuries were not short-term.

“We would have had to go without Coco and without Soto in the next round if we’d gotten that far,’’ Melvin said.

Continue Reading


Soto catching on for A’s during race to post-season

Geovany Soto's big swing in the first inning Monday was A's biggest hit of the night in 8-4 win over Angels.

Geovany Soto’s big swing in the first inning Monday was A’s biggest hit of the night in 8-4 win over Angels.

Some deals get more notoriety than others.

But for the final 10 days of the season, the trade that brought Geovany Soto to the A’s could rank there with any of them. Oakland picked him up from the Rangers in a little-noticed Aug. 24 transaction. Since then the A’s have been down two starting catchers, Soto and Derek Norris.

And for Sunday and Monday at least, it was just Soto. Norris is dealing with a shoulder problem and has taken a wild pitch off his jaw, so he could use the break.

All Soto has done has been to deliver three RBIs for the A’s in Sunday’s 10-inning win over the Phillies, then get the key hit of the game Monday, a bases-loaded single that drove in the middle two runs of a six-run first.

Continue Reading


A’s could give Anderson his first start behind plate vs. Felix

Derek Norris is the only healthy experienced catcher the A's have left for the moment.

Derek Norris is the only healthy experienced catcher the A’s have left for the moment.

Bob Melvin faced a decision Friday that hadn’t cropped up all year.

Catcher Geovany Soto felt his back go when he dug a strike thrown by starter Jason Hammel out of the dirt and fired to first base.

Soto had to come out of the game. In better days, Melvin could have thrown one of his multitudes of other catchers out there. But John Jaso and Stephen Vogt are both injured and not even with the team.

So his choice was between moving Derek Norris from DH to catcher and giving up the designated hitter for the rest of the night or inserting catcher Bryan Anderson in.

Continue Reading


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.

Continue Reading