OAKLAND -- With the Oakland A's in postseason contention and the Sacramento River Cats in the playoffs, fewer players were added as Sept. 1 call ups. With rosters expanding from 25 men to 40, the A's re-instated pitcher A.J. Griffin and third baseman Brandon Inge from the disabled list and added shortstop Brandon Hicks and outfielder Collin Cowgill from Triple-A. All of the moves were first reported by Comcast SportsNet. Second baseman Jemile Weeks will stay in Triple-A for now, but can still be eligible for the A's playoff roster according to Major League Baseball rules. The A's felt Griffin was an obvious choice to return to the team after two rehab starts in Sacramento. The right-handed pitcher was 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in eight starts with the A's. He has been on the DL since Aug. 5 after leaving a start early with shoulder tightness on Aug. 4. Griffin became the first rookie pitcher to start his career 3-0 since Rich Harden in 2003. He will have missed a total of 24 games for Oakland. Brandon Inge returns to the team after experiencing his own variety of shoulder issues. He sprained his right throwing shoulder making a diving attempt on Aug. 11. His shoulder actually dislocated, but he was able to pop it back into the socket before finishing the game -- even collecting a go-ahead RBI single in the game after sustaining the injury. Inge missed a total of 18 games with his recent injury. He played in six rehab games for the River Cats batting .200 (4 for 20) with two doubles, one RBI and four walks. Inge said the shoulder doesn't bother him at all when hitting, but he feels occasional pain when throwing. He insists he can play through the discomfort. "It doesn't effect anything," Inge said before Friday's game. "That's the bottom line."The A's will make more roster moves down the stretch, but for now reinforcements will come in the form of Hicks and Cowgill. Both players have spent time with Oakland this season. Hicks is batting .183 (11-60) with five home runs and seven RBI in 20 games with the A's. Cowgill hit .271 (26 for 96) with one home run, nine RBI and 11 walks in 32 games in Oakland. The A's also recalled reliever Pedro Figueroa on Friday and optioned Jim Miller to Stockton. With Stockton's season ending Monday, the A's will bring Miller back on Tuesday when he is eligible to return.For the latest A's news follow @CaseyPrattCSN and @KLongworthCSN.
MESA, Ariz. — Ryan Madson goes about his business getting ready for the season, without much clarity on what his bullpen role will be and hardly wringing his hands over the mystery.
A’s manager Bob Melvin has four veteran relievers with closer experience to choose from to be his ninth-inning man. He said Saturday morning he likely won’t announce that decision until the Bay Bridge Series that leads into Opening Day.
Madson, who rang up 30 saves as Oakland’s primary closer last season, prepares the same during the spring regardless of what inning he might pitch. He sees the numerous closer options as being a benefit for whoever ultimately gets picked for the ninth.
“If I’m doing it and I don’t get it done, there’s guys that will,” Madson said. “It’s not just a one-man show, so that takes the pressure off actually. People would think maybe it adds pressure — you gotta do good so you can have it. To me, it does the exact opposite. That helps me, knowing the more guys you’ve got that can do the job, the easier that job becomes.”
It wouldn’t be a shock if Melvin goes with the 36-year-old Madson as closer to begin the season. He’s the incumbent, and, though he had a 7.50 spring ERA before throwing a scoreless inning Saturday, no one among the trio of John Axford, Santiago Casilla and Sean Doolittle has made an emphatic statement for the job with their Cactus League performance. Axford’s 5.06 ERA is the lowest of those four.
From his comments so far this spring, Melvin seems inclined to use Ryan Dull as an escape artist to enter with men on base, a situation that he excelled in last season.
Regardless of how Melvin lines up his bullpen for the regular season, he’s said that he’s likely to utilize multiple guys in save situations depending on who’s available and who needs rest on a given day.
At this time last year, Madson was assumed to be the eighth-inning setup man with Doolittle handling closer duties. Melvin wound up flip-flopping them for the start of the regular season, and Madson got off to a strong start and remained the closer for most of the year. In his first extended ninth-inning duty since 2011, he notched his second 30-save season but also had seven blown saves, tied for second most in the American League.
“The emotions are different” in the ninth inning, Madson said. “They’re heightened, and so I had to adjust that way. … As long as I can navigate those emotions and put them in the right place, I usually do well when I can do that.”
Entering the second year of a three-year, $22 million contract, Madson said he likes the way he’s rounding into form on the mound despite less-than-glittering numbers.
“When I have good angle on the ball, good deception and good movement, then I get outs and I get ground balls,” he said. “I get strikeouts with the changeup. So if I focus on that, everything else falls in where it needs to.”
MESA, Ariz. — Gaudy run totals in spring training usually don’t mean a whole lot once the regular season hits.
For A’s manager Bob Melvin, it’s the manner in which the A’s are going about things offensively that’s encouraging to him.
Oakland jumped on another opponent early, scoring five runs in the first Friday and rolling to an 8-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox. Granted, Chicago scratched starter Carlos Rodon in the morning and had to piece the game together with its bullpen.
But that only takes so much luster off the way the A’s are going about their business right now. They’ve won four in a row, and over their past five games they’ve racked up 71 hits and are averaging more than eight runs per contest in that span.
“The good thing is it’s contagious throughout the lineup,” Melvin said. “In the first inning alone we had four situational at-bats and four situational plusses. That’s something Bushy (hitting coach Darren Bush) really has been stressing all spring. We’ve had a lot of games where we just pass it on to the next guy, and if we’re gonna be successful this year, that’s what we’re gonna have to do is get contributions throughout the lineup.”
It’s interesting to watch how Melvin utilizes Matt Joyce. Early on he said he prefers the right fielder batting third when he’s in the lineup. But Joyce also is drawing starts at leadoff, as he did Friday, and the No. 2 spot. Increasing on-base percentage is a big need for the A’s, and Joyce entered Friday tied for the Cactus league lead with 10 walks.
He singled to spark a five-run first that included RBI singles from Trevor Plouffe, Yonder Alonso, Mark Canha and Chris Parmelee.
ELITE COMPANY: Melvin threw out some big-time names when asked who young third baseman Matt Chapman reminds him of.
One was Melvin’s former Giants teammate, Matt Williams, a five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glover.
“The defense, Matty was as good as anybody I've seen over at third base,” Melvin said. “The power, there are a lot of similarities. That’s probably the best comp I could think of.”
Melvin also mentioned current Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado, who has won four consecutive Gold Gloves and posted back-to-back 40-homer seasons.
Not a bad couple of guys to be compared to.
“That’s exciting,” Chapman said. “It’s always nice to have people speak well of you. Those are two guys that I’m aware of how good they are.”
NOTEWORTHY: It was another start Friday where Kendall Graveman seemed to be on auto pilot, retiring hitters with ease and holding the White Sox to one run over seven innings. All the more impressive was that A’s hitters put together some very long half-innings, where Graveman had to make sure he stayed loose.
He simply took it as a good challenge to prepare for all those cold night games at the Coliseum. Named the A’s Opening Night starter just a day earlier, Graveman also used this start to focus on his cutter, being that his sinker has been locked in.
“It was good to have some innings where you have to sit for a while and go back out there,” Graveman said.
His ERA is 2.29 through five starts. He has one more tune-up before the April 3 opener against the Los Angeles Angels.
HEALTH UPDATES: Outfielder Jaff Decker continues to progress from his oblique injury. Now the key is whether he can return to games in time to make a final push for the 25-man roster. Alejandro De Aza appears to be his biggest competition to be the fifth outfielder, if the A’s end up carrying five.
“It just depends on when he gets in a game,” Melvin said of Decker. “I mean, he’s done enough obviously to make a big impression on us. But whether or not he’s even healthy enough at the end, we’ll see.”
ODDS AND ENDS: Ryon Healy swatted his fifth homer of the spring, a two-run shot, in the second inning. Entering Friday evening, Healy was tied for the major league lead in RBI (16) with Boston’s Pablo Sandoval. … Plouffe is on a recent tear and has lifted his average to .395. … Parmelee, a non-roster outfielder, is impressing in under-the-radar fashion. The left-handed hitter is batting .367. … Melvin is having a heck of a time getting switch hitter Jed Lowrie at-bats from the right side. He purposely switched things up to have Lowrie face the lefty Rodon on Friday, only to have Rodon get scratched. The A’s face lefties each of the next two days, and Melvin also mentioned sending Lowrie over to face minor league lefties if need be.