Henderson Alvarez closing in on a spot in A’s rotation

Starter Henderson Alvarez is probably two more minor league starts from being in the A’s rotation.

Alvarez threw 4.2 innings for Triple-A Nashville, giving up one run on three hits and three walks. The control wasn’t quite what the A’s had been looking for, but Oakland manager Bob Melvin said the reports he got were that the strike zone was tight.

“He felt good,’’ Melvin said. “It’ll be five days and 75 pitches, and then after seven and 90. Maybe those will be his last two.’’

After that, the 2014 National League All-Star with the Marlins could fit nicely into a rotation that has seen three potential starting pitchers, Jarrod Parker, Felix Doubront and Chris Bassitt, out for the season needing surgery.  Alvarez is becoming available 10 months after having shoulder surgery.

The most recent is Bassitt, who underwent Tommy John surgery in Cincinnati Friday morning and he came out of it pleased.

“Surgery was a success,’’ Bassitt said in a tweet. “Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers.’’

The surgery, performed by Dr. Timothy Kremchek, involved an ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction with an ipsilateral palmaris longus graft, the ipsilateral palmaris longus being a small tendon near the flexor carpi.

A statement put out by the A’s said Dr. Kremchek was pleased with the surgery and the outcome of the procedure. Bassitt will return to Oakland on Sunday and his rehab is due to start Monday.

Bassitt began the season in the A’s rotation, where he spent about half of the 2015 season. He was 0-2 with a 6.11 ERA and .294 opponents’ batting average, but before his right elbow started to trouble him he’d been effective, 0-0 but with a 2.79 ERA and .213 opponents’ batting average.


–Saying that at this point in the season “no one is 100 percent healthy,’’ Danny Valencia is back on the A’s roster and in the starting lineup for Friday.

With heavy rains having inundated Baltimore for most of the day, the Camden Yards infield doesn’t figure to be in prime shape, but Valencia, back after missing 15 days on the disabled list thanks to a hamstring issue, isn’t concerned for the extra strain the wet grounds might put on a not-quite-perfectly healthy left hamstring.

Valencia said “you can’t go out and play’’ with concerns like that on his mind, and said he’s ready to go after playing games with Class-A Stockton Monday and Wednesday as part of an injury rehabilitation assignment.

“We’ve have all played in the rain before,’’ Valencia said. “Nothing is going to stop me.’’

He said he’s anxious to see if he can help turn around the fortunes for the A’s, who come into the series having lost a season-high four consecutive games.

Melvin had him in the lineup batting seventh both because Khris Davis has hit well lately in the cleanup spot but because the manager wants to ease Valencia back in.



–Coco Crisp is back with the A’s after missing Wednesday’s game while visiting a doctor for a non-baseball issue. The time off has given his heel injury time to clear up, although Melvin said he would have liked to have had Crisp have dry grounds to he could do some pregame running.

–Billy Butler got hit second consecutive start against a right-handed pitcher Friday. He had two RBI Wednesday in a game started by Felix Hernandez, and he was in Friday because in 35 plate appearances against the Orioles Ubaldo Jimenez he has 10 hits and six walks, good for a .457 on-base percentage. It’s just the fifth start against a right-hander for the right-handed Butler this year but “we are trying to get our best matchups,’’ Melvin said.

–The A’s were among the approximately two dozen teams taking a look at Tim Lincecum as the free agent pitcher had a Friday showcase. Melvin said he’d seen Lincecum at his best when he pitched for the Giants against Melvin’s Arizona Diamondbacks and said depending on what kind of velocity he shows, the right-hander “could be very impactful. Being from the Bay Area, you can’t help but pull for a guy like that.’’

–The day off for Chris Coghlan was his first non-start since April 16. He’d taken over for Valencia at third base while he was on the disabled list.



So much for the trades

Day Three of the Winter Meetings is headed into the evening, and that’s generally when you start hearing about potential action. But as of now, this has become the most-hyped, least-substance event since the Super Bowl. No trades Wednesday (though the Miguel Cabrera-Dontrelle Willis trade to Detroit was officially announced). Here are some notes from the lobby:

— One A’s official said he’d be “shocked” if the team moves Dan Haren or Joe Blanton before the meetings are over or anytime soon thereafter. When presented with that information, an A’s executive said that’s a “safe” assumption. The Arizona Diamondbacks supposedly had assumed the lead in the sweepstakes for the two pitchers, but apparently there’s nothing imminent.

— One A’s source said the team had no meetings scheduled with any teams planned on Wednesday night. This, of course, could always change. The A’s were scheduled to meet with an agent, believed to be Alan Hendricks, who represents Huston Street.

— Don’t anticipate a Johan Santana trade getting done, even in principle. The Red Sox, according to several sources, has backed down on their interest. One intriguing team linked to Santana is the Seattle Mariners, and they’re reportedly willing to give up center fielder Adam Jones for him. Jones, according to the buzz, is supposed to be another Torii Hunter.

— Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi headed out of Nashville on Wednesday, lessening the chance that a Alex Rios-for-Tim Lincecum deal will be made. The Giants brass haven’t met with the media today, so clearly, they’re busy.


The Big Trade

Thoughts from the Winter Meetings on a bleary-eyed morning here at the Opryland Amusement Park, er Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.

— The acquisition of Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis by the Detroit Tigers in the biggest move of the meetings does two things. 1) It puts the Tigers in a class with the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels as the big dogs of the American League, and 2) It increases the necessity for the Minnesota Twins, their fellow rival in the AL Central, to deal Johan Santana. Even with Santana, it’s impossible to picture the Twins hanging with both Detroit and Cleveland; thus, better to get what you can for your best asset. It could portend a trade of Minnesota closer Joe Nathan, too.

— Speaking of Santana, the guess here is that he’ll go to the Red Sox, and that wouldn’t be a terrible thing. Can’t you picture the Tigers potential lineup against a potential Red Sox rotation of Santana, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Curt Schilling in an October showdown.

— Would love to be a fly on the wall to hear the internal discussions the Giants are holding regarding the possibility of trading Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain to Toronto for outfielder Alex Rios. Personally, I wouldn’t move Cain unless I could have the entire Tigers lineup.  Lincecum might be less painful to move, but not much. Keep in mind that Rios would be entering his second year of arbitration this winter, so he’s not nearly the financial bargain that Lincecum is.

— Continue to get the feeling that the A’s are more likely to deal Joe Blanton than they are Dan Haren, and that such a move likely won’t come until the meetings are over. One report says the Diamondbacks are offering a “Herschel Walker-type” deal for Haren, but I’ve heard just the opposite, namely that they don’t have nearly enough. That’s the nature of these meetings: Deciphering what’s true and what isn’t is like reading Beowulf.

— Speaking of the A’s, general manager Billy Beane summed up the nature of the meetings perfectly: “You don’t get any sleep, you don’t eat well, you don’t get any exercise. Everything grinds to a halt and not much actually happens.”