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Cespedes, Reddick out of lineup as A’s return home

cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes has a pair of RBIs in the A’s 3-2 win over the Red Sox on Sunday, but a hamstring injury will keep him from starting Monday’s game. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick are both out of the lineup as the A’s return home to face the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.

Reddick sprained his left ankle trying to get out of the batters box when he hit into an inning-ending double play in the ninth inning of the A’s 3-2 win in 10 innings against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said before Monday’s game that Reddick won’t be available for “a day or two. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

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Will ragged running game catch up to front-running A’s?

Tye Waller hasn't much liked what he's seen of the A's running the bases.

Tye Waller hasn’t much liked what he’s seen of the A’s running the bases.

To look at the A’s stolen base numbers – they had been successful on 19 of 21 steal tries entering Saturday – you’d think the Oakland running game is a fine-tuned machine.

It’s not. Stolen bases, while important, are only part of the base running package. And the rest of the package isn’t much to look at.

Twenty nine games in to the season, the A’s have made more than a half dozen outs running the bases. The latest came Friday when with men on first and second, Yoenis Cespedes hit a bullet to deep center. Josh Donaldson was already around second base when the ball was caught by Jackie Bradley Jr., and a great relay flip from Dustin Pedroia beat Donaldson back to first base.

“We keep doing it,’’ first base coach Tye Waller said Saturday. “We keep working on it, but we keep doing it.’’

Manager Bob Melvin talked to Donaldson about the play. The A’s were down 6-1 at the time en route to a 7-1 loss. It’s not like Donaldson was going to tie the game if he scored.

“We haven’t been very good base-running wise, no question,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “There is over-aggressiveness at times on our part, running with your head down. There is no reason to be aggressive in that situation. And he knows that, and it’s been addressed.’’

This road trip has seen the A’s running out of control at times. Monday in Arlington, Texas, Brandon Moss was picked off first base by Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos in the third inning and Josh Reddick was doubled off first base in the eighth. Texas’ center fielder Leonys Martin made a terrific catch with the A’s up 4-0 and Reddick, running with the pitch, had insufficient time to retreat.

“That’s the kind of thing we’ve done too much of,’’ Waller said. “When the play is in front of you like that, you have to make sure the ball isn’t caught. We can’t be getting doubled off like that.

“We’re constantly talking about it, keeping them aware. We’re going to get better. We can’t keep making these kinds of mistakes. We’ve been winning despite it, but you can’t keep doing that over six months without it catching up to you.’’

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Reddick resurgence prepares him for this Fenway visit

Josh Reddick

Josh Reddick (16) is riding high as he and the A’s head into Fenway Park this weekend

Josh Reddick returns this weekend to where it all started for him in a professional sense, Fenway Park, as the A’s visit the Red Sox for three games.

Actually, Reddick got a jump on the Fenway experience by using the A’s off-day Thursday to drop by as the Red Sox played a day-night doubleheader necessitated by a Wednesday rainout.

Reddick reappearance in Fenway happens just as he seems to be getting his game track back on course. He hit 32 homers for the A’s in 2012, the year after Boston traded him to Oakland in order to get its hands on reliever Andrew Bailey. The 2013 season was a wash thanks to Reddick’s season-long wrist injury, but when he led the A’s in RBIs during spring training, it seemed his bat had resurfaced.

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Even after being Reddicked, Josh has a good night

Josh Reddick got Reddicked Monday in Arlington, Texas

Josh Reddick got Reddicked Monday in Arlington, Texas

The Texas Rangers clearly had a target painted on Josh Reddick.

They know the A’s right fielder as an aggressive base runner. They tried to take advantage of that, catcher Robinson Chirinos repeatedly throwing behind him at first base in an effort to pick him off.

It didn’t work, although it was close enough that in the eighth inning the umpires had to have a video review to determine if Reddick was out or had been tagged by first baseman Prince Fielder.

“They were treating me like I was Coco (Crisp),” Reddick said through a grin, referring to the A’s top base runner.

Later in the inning, center fielder Leonys Martin climbed the wall in right-center to bring back Daric Barton’s bid for a home run. Martin then threw to first base. Reddick, already past second base, raced back to first and beat the tag.

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Moss’s Intentional Talk appearance fires up A’s (updated)

Brandon Moss likes to crowd the plate, one reason he was hit by a pitch four times in four games in Houston

Brandon Moss likes to crowd the plate, one reason he was hit by a pitch four times in four games in Houston

Brandon Moss’s appearance on MLB Networks’ Intentional Talk Monday afternoon was a major hit in the A’s clubhouse.

They loved the riffs he did on fellow Georgia native Josh Reddick, his talk about being scared of grizzlies and his singing and dancing (if you could call it that) to Merle Haggard.

Check it out here: http://bit.ly/1lriDaZ

He got Reddick’s attention, though. The right fielder tweeted (@joshreddick16) “I cannot wait to go back on IT and keep this war with Moss goin’. Make it happen.”

Moss isn’t on Twitter, but he’s sure to be back on IT after that performance.

Before the interview was show (on tape delay), Moss was talking up his series in Texas when he was hit four times by pitches in four games, including twice in the same inning Friday.

“Who else set two records?’’ Moss said. “I’m so pumped.’’

Moss became the only A’s player ever to be hit by pitches twice in the same inning, and his getting hit four times in the same series is the club record dating back to at least 1914.

Asked if he’d ever heard of Ron Hunt, Moss’s face went blank. He never heard of the second baseman, who played with the Mets, the Dodgers, the Giants, the Expos and the Cardinals. The one-time All-Star with the Mets – he was, in fact, the Mets’ first-ever All-Star – Hunt had six consecutive seasons being hit by 24 or more pitches, and in 1971, the year after the Giants shipped him to the Expos, Hunt set the big league record for being hit, ringing up 50 HPBs.

Moss, who has never been hit more than six times in a season but who has five now with five months of the season to go, doesn’t want to chase Hunt.

But he does crowd the plate much in the way Hunt did.

“I’m always going to be right on top of the plate,’’ he said.

His manager, Bob Melvin, couldn’t recall anyone getting closer to the plate than the left-handed Moss.

“I throw batting practice to him quite a bit,’’ Melvin said. “Sometimes he looks like a right-handed hitter, he so on the plate. So, yeah. He crowds the plate.’’

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Reddick says awesome throw was one of his two best

Josh Reddick has a T-shirt he likes to wear from time to time.

It says simply, “Don’t Run on Reddick.’’

It may be time to break that one out again after the otherworldly throw that Reddick unleashed Saturday night, a bullet from deep right to third base on the fly, enabling third baseman Josh Donaldson to slap a tag on the suitable surprised base runner, George Springer.

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Reddick hasn’t lost his touch for delivering a pie in the face

Coco Crisp circles bases after walkoff homer. Minutes later, he'd be hit by a whipping cream pie in the face and take a Gatorade bath.

Coco Crisp circles bases after walkoff homer. Minutes later, he’d be hit by a whipping cream pie in the face and take a Gatorade bath.

Right fielder Josh Reddick was in the Oakland clubhouse in the 12th inning Thursday when Coco Crisp delivered the walkoff homer that made the A’s 3-2 winners over the Mariners.

Not being on the field didn’t stop Reddick from doing what he knew he had to do.

“I was too late for the (home run) tunnel,’’ Reddick said, “but there was enough time for everything else.’’

The “everything else’’ Reddick referred to was the tradition of loading up a paper plate with whipping cream and catching Crisp flush in the face with it during the post-game television interview on the field.

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Regardless of numbers, it’s a stretch for Taylor with A’s

The A’s backup outfield job was originally supposed to go to Craig Gentry, and while Gentry had a full workout Monday, things have changed because Gentry’s ongoing recovery from back pain may well keep him from starting the season on the roster.

The options then for the A’s are Sam Fuld, signed as a free agent, or Michael Taylor, who is out of options after playing his entire career in the A’s minor league system.

Taylor’s having a big sprint with a .310 average and just Sunday threw out a runner at the plate from right field. And while the A’s like to hold on to players who are out of options, it’s difficult seeing how Taylor makes the team no matter how good his spring is.

Because both Brandon Moss and Daric Barton seem locked in at first base/DH, there are only four open outfield spots on the roster. And manager Bob Melvin Monday said that the ability to play center field is a major factor in the decision-making process for someone to play behind Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick.

Gentry can play center. And so can Fuld, who has a deal in his contract that he can walk as a free agent later this month if he’s not on the roster. Taylor is seen as a corner outfielder only.

Now since Gentry is likely back in early April, the A’s could go for a week or two with Taylor and without a true backup center fielder, knowing they could shove Cespedes into the role for a game or two if needed. Moss can move to left, freeing up Cespedes, if needed.

But if they stick to their center field predilection, it seems that Fuld’s the guy over Taylor, if for no other reason than the club might be able to hold onto him for the season.

That being the case, it would make sense for the A’s to try and trade Taylor in the next week or so because they risk losing him now that he’s out of options and is unlikely to make the roster.

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Sogard’s #FaceofMLB run `like going to Disneyland’

The bespeckled face of nerdpower isn’t, ultimately, the face of baseball.

A’s second baseman Eric Sogard’s wild ride through the Twittersphere came to an end Friday morning when a late push got the Mets’ David Wright over the top and a victory in MLB Networks’ #FaceofMLB competition.

“It was like going to Disneyland,’’ Sogard said Friday after the results were announced. “I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.’’

Sogard did nothing to promote his own candidacy, and said he was shocked when A’s fans originally picked him as the Oakland contestant in the competition. But as he rolled past the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo, the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki, the Giants’ Buster Posey and the Jays’ Jose Bautista, his momentum morphed from a strong surge into a tidal wave.

Were fans into it? Just a little. They took photos of the man whose black-rimmed glasses have had him crowned the face of #nerdpower, digitally imposed them on every picture they could think of and inundated Twitter with them.

There was Sogard in a poster for the movie Fight Club. And Raiders of the Lost Ark. And Toy Story. And the list goes on.

“There were so many amazing memes,’’ Sogard’s wife, Kaycee, said. “Eric took it all in stride, but we loved them all. I’m going to track them all down and make a book of them. They’re too good to lose.’’

Sogard just laughed when asked if he was going to ask for a recount of the vote, which saw him lose to Wright by two percentage points, 51-49. Sogard had been ahead when the West Coast went to bed Thursday night, but the East Coast rallied early.

None of which bothered Sogard.

“It goes to show the passion of A’s fans,’’ Sogard said. “It’s not just about me, it’s about this team and the fans we have. They are amazing.’’

Reliever Sean Doolittle has a theory on how the Sogard phenomenon got so big so fast.

“Who are the Oakland A’s?’’ Doolittle said. A’s fans had a chance to flip baseball on its side and they did a great job of it.’’

As did the A’s players, at least those who are on Twitter.

“We had a blast with it,’’ Doolittle said. “It got to be seeing who could come up with the coolest things to say to promote Sogie.’’

Josh Reddick dropped a few names and got Larry the Cable Guy and WWE wrestler The Big Show on board on Sogard’s behalf.

Starting pitchers Sonny Gray and Dan Straily orchestrated a scam in which Gray directed to Straily a tweet of support of Sogard his “new’’ phone number, asking that Straily call him. The number was the A’s ticket office.

Jarrod Parker, Josh Donaldson, A.J. Griffin, Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt and Tommy Milone all were out in front in leading the charge for Sogard. Even former A’s pitcher Travis Blackley, now pitching in Australia, chipped in, as did Brett Anderson and Pat Neshek, both of whom spent 2013 with the A’s.

Tweeted Norris: “Vote for the guy whose glasses are so powerful he can see the future.’’

Tweeted Crisp: “Who do you think showed @Coco_Crisp all his dance moves? Yup!! It was #EricSogard #FaceofMLB Sogie’s got skills.”

Tweeted Cook: “My timeline is a joke …  #EricSogard #FaceofMLB all over the place!

“I think you saw the personality of this team come out through all this,’’ Gray said. “Everybody was into it.’’

Sogard, a second baseman who has a fight ahead of him to hold the job he won last spring, won’t soon forget any of this.

“We may not have the most fans, but we have amazing fans,’’ Sogard said. “They get the credit for all this. This was them.’’

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O’Flaherty glad A’s will keep him under wraps as he recovers; Cook receives good news on favorite fan in K.C.

For a guy who’s not healthy enough to pitch quite yet, Eric O’Flaherty is sure of himself.

He’s sure that he could be pitching again by late May, early June at the latest after recovering from Tommy John surgery.

And then he laughs.

“That’s why I don’t make those decisions,’’ he said.

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