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The long and short of it is that Canha’s having a fine start: Vogt’s ankle OK; Melvin sticks with same lineup third time

Mark Canha is hitting in luck -- both good and bad -- to start his MLB career.

Mark Canha is hitting in luck — both good and bad — to start his MLB career.

Mark Canha is a sports fan, follows the Sharks, the Warriors and the 49ers, but mostly he’s a baseball fan.

Monday night he got a reminder why baseball appeals to him so much, something about the sheer unpredictability of it.

Batting to lead off the third inning, he got on top of a ball that dribbled about three feet in front of the plate. He dropped his bat, started running and the A’s left fielder found himself at first base with a single.

Two innings later, he came up with one out and one on and simply crushed a ball, hitting it about as hard as he could, which in the case of the San Jose product out of Cal is on the upper levels of crushing. This time he didn’t make it out of the batter’s box. No need. The ball was hit on a line to third base where the Astros’ Luis Valbuena caught it.

“That’s just the way baseball goes,’’ Canha said Tuesday. “You get a hit on one in front of the plate like that, then you sting one and get nothing.

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Kazmir fights off moisture, calf cramps en route to 2nd win

Scott Kazmir survive a moist, sometimes slick mound at Minute Maid Park to beat the Astros 8-1 Monday.

Scott Kazmir survive a moist, sometimes slick mound at Minute Maid Park to beat the Astros 8-1 Monday.

Talk about a slippery slope.

Scott Kazmir was born in Houston, still lives in the area and yet was completely baffled by the pitching mounds at Minute Maid Park Monday night, likely a product of the mega-humid Houston weather.

“It started in the bullpen and was the same on the field,’’ Kazmir said. “The mounds felt wet. I don’t know why. But I had real trouble in the pen and in the first inning.’’

Bullpens generally are groomed and groomed and groomed again to get the right feel, a feel that includes no moisture. That made Monday more than a tad odd for the lefty starter.

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Astros’ Lowrie not particularly surprised not to be with A’s, but he loved his two `awesome’ years playing with Oakland

Shortstop Jed Lowrie has traded green-and-gold for Astros orange in 2015.

Shortstop Jed Lowrie has traded green-and-gold for Astros orange in 2015.

Jed Lowrie made no secret last October of his hope that the A’s would keep the core from the 2013-14 A’s together in Oakland.

Coming off three consecutive post-season appearances, the A’s did no such thing. Proof lies in Lawrie’s new job as the Astros shortstop. He got Monday night off after Houston played a 14-inning game Sunday, his sixth game in the season’s opening week.

“It’s not like I ever sat down with Billy Beane to talk about it,’’ Lawrie said. “So it’s not for me to say about what the A’s did. But it’s more than a little strange to look at them now, because they’ve had so much turnover.

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HBP explosion has mostly to do with Rangers crowding plate

Catcher Stephen Vogt says Rangers lefties were crowding the plate, that some of six HBPs were "borderline strikes."

Catcher Stephen Vogt says Rangers lefties were crowding the plate, that some of six HBPs were “borderline strikes.”

For the second time in three days, A’s catcher Stephen Vogt said the Rangers batters, particularly the left-handers, are crowding the plate.

A’s pitchers hit six Rangers batters, all lefties, in the just-completed four-game series. Oakland pitchers don’t generally have those kinds of issues.“They are on top of the plate, and there is no rule that says they have to move,’’ Vogt said. “There were a couple of pitches I thought were borderline strikes that hit them, but that’s part of the game.’’

In Tuesday’s game, Vogt and manager Bob Melvin took exception to catcher Carlos Corporan getting hit by a pitch, the A’s contending that Corporan all be leaned into the pitch.

Corporan was hit by a pitch again Thursday, but it was a relatively insignificant part of a 10-1 loss, and the A’s didn’t say if Corporan was moving in on the pitch this time.

“They have guys are willing to crowd the plate and not move,’’ Vogt said. “That’s worth a couple of hit by pitches.’’

Oakland pitching had one stretch where the A’s didn’t hit anyone over the course of 19 games last season. And the A’s didn’t hit six batters in any four-game stretch a year ago, although they did hit five in four games once, in two road games each against the Mets and Marlins July 24-28.

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A’s lose OF Alex Hassan to Rangers on waiver claim

The A’s lost outfielder Alex Hassan to the Rangers Thursday when Texas claimed Hassan less than 24 hours after the A’s had requested waivers.

The A’s waived Hassan in order to make room on the 40-man roster for veteran outfielder Cody Ross, signed after he’d been released by Arizona. Ross started Wednesday and singled home two runs in five at-bats.

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Cody Ross could be a short-term replacement for Coco Crisp

Veteran corner outfielder Cody Ross, put on waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend, could be joining the outfield-deprived A’s in the next couple of days, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal at Fox.

The A’s have expressed some interest in Ross with left fielder Coco Crisp on the disabled list for about eight more weeks, and he would be an inexpensive pickup.

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Bassitt needs to throw at lefties to manage inside corner

Chris Bassitt is trying to get his pitches inside to left-handed hitters.

Chris Bassitt is trying to get his pitches inside to left-handed hitters.

The lessons Cactus League hitters are administering to Chris Bassitt aren’t being lost on the A’s right-hander.

Bassitt was knocked around for five runs in 4.1 innings Monday in an 8-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians, leaving his ERA for the spring at a staggering 8.76.

Each time out, the story is the same. He does just fine against right-handed hitters, but lefties keep crushing his fastball.

“I have to be able to throw inside to left-handed hitters,’’ he said. “I’ve always been able to get away with it in the minor leagues. But up here, they hit that. I’ve been working at that my whole life, honestly. At this level you can’t beat anyone if you can’t.

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Zobrist may yet wind up in right field for the A’s

When Ben Zobrist came to the A’s, it was with the understanding that he would be Oakland’s starting second baseman.

But Zobrist, who played in the outfield nearly as much as the infield in helping build Tampa Bay into a power, including 47 outfield starts in 2014, may be asked to put that versatility on display again as the opening day right fielder.

The A’s will almost certainly start the season with right fielder Josh Reddick on the disabled list after he came down with a right oblique strain late last week. That being the case, manager Bob Melvin is looking for options, and the versatile Zobrist is at or near the top of the list.

“I think Zobrist enjoys moving around some,’’ Melvin said. “But you never get as comfortable as possible moving positions. This team is built around depth and versatility, and he is a big part of that.’’

Zobrist has not played right field this spring, and in the day-ahead lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Diamondbacks, he’s listed as being the second baseman. But he carries two gloves with him at all times and it’s likely he’ll be in right field before too much longer.

There are, of course, other options. Melvin said that Mark Canha, the Rule 5 first baseman/outfielder, is one if he makes the roster. Craig Gentry, who is down to split time in center fielder with Sam Fuld, is another.

And look for first baseman Ike Davis to get some work in the outfield before too much more of the spring has passed. He could be freed to go out to right field by having current DH Billy Butler play at first base.

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Freiman won’t blame weight room work for his back injury

Nate Freiman will miss a couple of weeks with a back strain, setting back his chances of making the A's roster out of spring training.

Nate Freiman will miss a couple of weeks with a back strain, setting back his chances of making the A’s roster out of spring training.

First baseman Nate Freiman said that he injured his back lifting weights this off-season, and even while the resultant muscle strain is causing him to miss a couple of weeks of Cactus League work, he defends against the suggestion that too much work in the weight room is bad for a baseball player.

“Respectfully, I have to disagree with that. I think work in the weight room is very important,’’ Freiman said. “The benefits enormously outweigh the risks.

“I think for every injury you see coming out of the weight room, there are many more injuries on the field that don’t happen because players who work with weights are in such good shape.’’

Freiman does admit this is a major setback to his hopes of making the A’s 25-man roster coming out of spring training. He was going to be hard-pressed to win a job with the A’s having a Rule 5 first baseman, Mark Canha, in camp who has to make the roster or be offered back to the Marlins.

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Zito, Crisp take center stage today for A’s vs. Cubs

Barry Zito's gets his first Cactus League start Thursday against the Cubs.

Barry Zito’s gets his first Cactus League start Thursday against the Cubs.

It’s a quiet morning in Mesa with only a little bit of news coming out of A’s camp

That figures to change this afternoon as former Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito makes his fist Cactus League start of the spring in what he hopes will be a first step toward winning a job in the A’s rotation.

And Coco Crisp will start in left field, marking his move there from center field, his home for most of his big league career.

Zito has a long road to go to make the A’s rotation. The A’s have three spots open behind Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir, but the club is leaning toward giving Jesse Chavez and Drew Pomeranz the first shots at two of those jobs, and Oakland went out and got handful of not-quite-ready-for-primetime pitchers for the fifth spot, including Jesse Hahn, Kendall Graveman and Chris Bassitt.

It’s a virtual certainty that one of those last three makes the rotation, and two of them making it isn’t out of the question.

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