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Joey Wendel, Chad Pinder A’s new platoon at second base

Joey Wendle will be half of A's second base platoon.

Joey Wendle will be half of A’s second base platoon.

Joey Wendel, who was almost certainly going to be called up after the rosters expanded from 25 to 40 on Thursday, got a jump on the competition when he was promoted Wednesday from Triple-A Nashville to Oakland and immediately went into the A’s starting lineup.

The arrival of Wendel, picked up from the A’s in the Brandon Moss trade of two winters ago, does a minor remake of the A’s infield. Max Muncy, who had been getting most of the work at second base, will step into the outfield as a backup with Wendle and Chad Pinder, called up last week, moving into a platoon at second base.

“I didn’t think it would be this soon,’’ Wendle admitted. He was called into Nashville manager Steve Scarsone’s office Tuesday night and told him he’d been promoted.

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A’s demote Eric Surkamp; Andrew Triggs up; Hahn likely to start Friday vs. Astros, but Manaea remote possibility

Lefty Eric Surkamp was sent to Triple-A Nashville Monday after giving up six runs in 4.2 innings in Toronto Sunday.

Lefty Eric Surkamp was sent to Triple-A Nashville Monday after giving up six runs in 4.2 innings in Toronto Sunday.

The A’s demotion of left-handed starter Eric Surkamp Monday leaves Friday’s spot in the rotation open, and while that will likely be filled by Jesse Hahn, the A’s aren’t ready to commit to him or to lefty Sean Manaea.

“We’re not sure yet,’’ manager Bob Melvin said after the club brought up reliever Andrew Triggs to take Surkamp’s name on the roster. “We’ll make a decision at the proper time for that.’’

The proper time may well depend on the weather for this week’s four-game series in Comerica Park. Rain had the potential to be a problem Monday and rain is expected again for the getaway game on Thursday afternoon.

The A’s had expected Hahn to make the starting rotation out of spring training, but he struggled throughout Cactus League play. Surkamp made the rotation when Felix Doubront was injured and Hahn was ineffective. Surkamp’s signature game was a seven-inning relief performance in his Bay Bridge Series start against the Giants April 2 in the Coliseum.

Even at the time, Melvin said he’d “be shocked if Hahn wasn’t back, and in our estimation very soon, too.’’ If the A’s make the move now, it would be after four Pacific Coast League starts for Hahn with the Nashville Sounds.

Manaea was one of the A’s big finds of the spring, and while he has a 2-0 record, 1.50 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, he’s not on the 40-man roster, and the A’s would have to find space on the 40-man rotation, not always an easy thing to do.

The right-hander had been expected to be the second or third starter in the rotation, but he fought his control all spring and didn’t look anything like the pitcher he’d been with the A’s last year, compiling an 11.15 ERA in spring training.

Hahn had allowed one run in his first 14 innings for the Sounds before Sunday, when he allowed three runs in 3.1 innings, giving up seven hits. His ERA sits at 2.04 with a 1.42 WHIP and .246 opponents’ batting average.

 

–The A’s claimed Triggs on waivers in March from Baltimore, which apparently wasn’t willing to wait on a 27-year-old who’d pitched in just one game above Double-A level.

But he’d had a tremendous 2015 season at Double-A Bowie with a 1.03 ERA, 17 saves and .196 opponents’ batting average.

“It would have been nice to see in the spring,’’ Melvin said. “But we’ve seen some video of him, people in development like him, he’s got some deception to his delivery and all reports are good.’’

Triggs’ numbers with Nashville aren’t bad if you look past his 5.14 ERA. He’s 2-1 and opponents are hitting just .214 against him. His bloated ERA stems from an April 14 appearance in which he allowed three earned runs in one-third of an inning. Beyond that, he’s allowed just one run in 6.2 innings this month.

Triggs has been with three organizations – the Royals, Orioles and now A’s – in the last 13 months, and the claim by Oakland worked out well for him. Nashville, in addition to being the A’s Triple-A location, is Triggs’ hometown, so he’d been pitching in front of family consistently.

And his parents, Betty and Austin, flew Monday from Nashville to Detroit with the hope of witnessing his big league debut.

Triggs said Nashville manager Steve Scarsone played a trick on him in telling him he’d been promoted.

“I was the bullpen coach yesterday, and I had the walkie-talkie,’’ Triggs said. “Scar brought me in after the game and told me I’d broken it, and I’d have to pay for it. And then he said I could do it in Oakland. That was cool, obviously a thrill.’’

 

NOTES

–Jed Lowrie said he’s been having calf problems with both legs, and while he said it was good to get a day off Sunday to rest in Toronto off Rogers Center’s artificial turf, he probably could have played. With the A’s having games on the next 10 consecutive days “that probably went into their decision,’’ Lowrie said.

–It will be interesting to see if Billy Butler starts Wednesday’s game when the tigers are scheduled to throw Justin Verlander. The DH generally doesn’t start against right-handers and the right-handed Verlander has a long history as an A’s killer. But Butler’s slash line against him is staggering – .405/.468/.536 – with two homers. Butler credits that in part to playing in the AL Central and seeing the Tigers 19 times a year when he was with the Royals.

–Josh Reddick got a new supply of bats, and not a moment too soon. He broke eight bats in his first starts on this road trip.

–Nashville pitcher Dillon Overton was named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week for throwing his first career complete game. They lefty allowed one run in seven innings in the second game of a doubleheader against Colorado Springs on April 20. He allowed five hits but no walks and struck out five.

 

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Minor league jobs: Christenson moving up, Prieto staying on

The A’s made their minor league managing, coaching, instructing and training positions for 2015 official today.

It’s nice to see one of baseball’s great guys, Ryan Christenson, moving up the managerial ladder. He was at Class A last year and is moving up to take over Double-A Midland after he got Stockton into the California League playoffs last year.

Ariel Prieto, who spent the last few seasons coaching with the big league team and serving as interpreter for fellow Cuban Yoenis Cespedes, is staying with the organization, moving back to the job he had previously as the pitching coach for the A’s Arizona Rookie League team.

And Steve Scarsone, who managed the last two years in Sacramento, will move to Nashville with the A’s moving their Triple-A affiliate there.

Here’s the complete release from the A’s:

Garvin Alston was named minor league pitching coordinator after spending the previous six seasons as minor league pitching rehab coordinator.  Greg Sparks will take over as minor league hitting coordinator after spending three seasons as hitting coach at Triple-A Sacramento.  Sparks is in his 18th season in the A’s organization, which includes eight years as minor league roving hitting instructor from 2004-11.  Juan Navarrette is in his 21st season with the A’s and will be the minor league defensive, base running and bunting coordinator. Craig Lefferts, who spent the previous 12 seasons as pitching coach in the A’s farm system, replaces Alston as minor league rehab pitching coordinator.  Aaron Nieckula was named minor league field coordinator and will oversee minor league spring training, extended spring training and instructional league.

Steve Scarsone was named manager of the A’s new Triple-A affiliate at Nashville.  This will be his third consecutive season as manager of the A’s Triple-A club as he guided Sacramento to a 79-65 record in each of the previous two seasons.  Scarsone now has a 568-554 record in eight seasons as a minor league manager, including stints in the A’s system with Midland from 2011-12, Stockton in 2010 and Kane County in 2009.  Don Schulze and Webster Garrison earn their first Triple-A assignments in 2015 as pitching coach and hitting coach, respectively.  This will be Schulze’s 10th year as a pitching coach in the A’s system, including the last four at Double-A Midland, and Garrison’s 15th as a coach or manager.  Brad LaRosa returns as the athletic trainer and Terence Brannic was named strength coach.

Ryan Christenson takes over as manager at Midland after leading Single-A Stockton to an 85-55 record and a playoff appearance in 2014.  He made his managerial debut in 2013 at Single-A Beloit after spending six seasons as a player in the Major Leagues, including four with the A’s from 1998-2001.  John Wasdin will be the pitching coach on Christenson’s staff for the third consecutive season and Eric Martins was named hitting coach.  Martins served as a scout for the A’s for the past seven seasons.  Justin Whitehouse returns as the athletic trainer and A.J. Seeliger is the new strength coach.

Rick Magnante assumes the managerial reins at Stockton, his 13th season as a minor league manager.  He has a 457-497 record in his previous 12 seasons, including 55-84 last season with Single-A Beloit.  Rick Rodriguez will be the pitching coach after two seasons in that capacity at Sacramento.  Rodriguez is in his 31st season in the A’s organization, which includes seven seasons as a player and two years as bullpen coach in Oakland (2011-12). Brian McArn returns as hitting coach, his 18th in that role with the A’s and his fourth at Stockton (2011-12, 14).  Travis Tims returns as athletic trainer and Henry Torres takes over as strength coach.

Fran Riordan joins the A’s organization as manager at Single-A Beloit after spending 14 years managing in independent leagues.  Riordan spent the last four seasons at the helm of Florence in the Frontier League, guiding the Freedom to a 190-194 record over that stretch. Steve Connelly, who had his first professional coaching assignment as pitching coach at Short Season Single-A Vermont last year, takes over those duties at Beloit in 2015.  Lloyd Turner returns for his second consecutive season as hitting coach with the Snappers and Brian Thorson returns as athletic trainer.  JD Howell will serve as strength coach.

In addition to his duties as field coordinator, Nieckula will manage the A’s Short Season club at Vermont, his ninth year as a manager in the A’s farm system.  He has spent the last two seasons at Midland and guided the RockHounds to a 77-63 record and the Texas League Championship in 2014.  Carlos Chavez will be the pitching coach after two seasons with the A’s affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League. Tommy Everidge returns for his second consecutive season as Vermont’s hitting coach and Toshi Nagahara returns as the athletic trainer.

Ruben Escalera will manage the A’s affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League for the second consecutive season and ninth season overall.  He previously managed from 2002-08 and spent the five years in between in various roles as an instructor in the A’s system.  Ariel Prieto was named pitching coach after serving as a coach on the Major League staff the previous three seasons.  He previously served as pitching coach with the A’s rookie club from 2009-11 and will also serve as a liaison between the A’s Dominican Republic and United States based operations.  Juan Dilone returns for his seventh season as hitting coach and Gabriel Ortiz is in his second season as coach.  Chris Lessner returns as the athletic trainer.

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Gibson won’t be A’s bench coach; Hansen could be bat coach

Kirk Gibson, who had been thought to be on the short list as the next bench coach of the Oakland A’s, will not be heading to Oakland, sources told this newspaper Friday.

Gibson, a longtime friend of A’s manager Bob Melvin and one of Melvin’s coaches when he managed in Arizona, was fired by the Diamondbacks in the final week of the season.

And with Dave Magadan apparently having pulled out as a candidate for the A’s batting coach, Oakland management seems to be getting closer to settling on the makeup of the coaching staff for the 2015 season.

The A’s are negotiating with current Angels’ assistant batting coach Dave Hansen to take over for Chili Davis as batting coach. Hansen previously has spent time as batting coach for the Mariners and the Dodgers.

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