First rainout in three years a welcome sight for A's; game rescheduled

First rainout in three years a welcome sight for A's; game rescheduled

UPDATE (2:15pm PT on Sunday): The game between the A's and Astros that was rained out Sunday will be made up on Saturday, Sept. 9 as a traditional doubleheader.

The first game will be played at the regularly scheduled time of 1:05pm. First pitch of the second game will occur approximately 25 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.

Tickets for the originally scheduled Sept. 9 game will be valid for both games. April 16 game tickets will not be valid for the Sept. 9 doubleheader.

Fans holding tickets for the postponed April 16 game can be exchanged for any future 2017 A's game.

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OAKLAND — The A’s had their first home rainout in three years Sunday, with no makeup date immediately announced for their game against the Houston Astros.

Players and coaches scattered about shortly after the late-morning announcement came down, some heading out to celebrate Easter with their families, or to watch the Warriors’ playoff game, or perhaps both.

Rainouts are a rarity indeed at the Coliseum. The A’s last home rainout came April 1, 2014, though three days after that, the team was forced to postgame a game when the traps weren’t put out and early-morning rain made the field unplayable.

At any rate, Sunday’s postponement was welcomed by A’s manager Bob Melvin from the standpoint that his overworked bullpen received an unexpected day off.

“You look at how the bullpen has been taxed here the last couple of days. We went from having a fresh bullpen to not having a fresh bullpen,” Melvin said. “If there’s silver linings as far as that goes, that would probably be the one that stands out the most for me.”

A’s starters Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea threw just five innings each over the past two days, pressing the relief corps into action early. Melvin called four relievers into duty Friday and five Saturday to cover a total of eight innings, including Ryan Dull throwing both days. So as the Warriors and their fans geared up next door for Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals, the tarp was out on Rickey Henderson Field inside the Coliseum.

The A’s are keeping their rotation the same, meaning all the starters simply get an extra day off. Jharel Cotton will pitch Monday’s series opener against the Texas Rangers, with Andrew Triggs going Tuesday and Jesse Hahn on Wednesday.

One date being considered for the makeup game, according to Melvin, is Sept. 7. That's an off-day for both the A's and Astros, as they're scheduled to begin a series at the Coliseum the very next day.

Also Sunday, the A’s placed shortstop Marcus Semien on the 10-day disabled list and recalled infielder Chad Pinder to take his roster spot. Semien has been diagnosed with a bone contusion in his right wrist, but a CT scan is scheduled for Monday to explore whether the injury might be more severe.

“They want to rest it and find out through the CT scan tomorrow what exactly it is,” Semien said. “(Is it) what initially the doctor said, which was a bone contusion, or if anything else is going on in there. We’ve gotta find out what the timetable would be either way. If it’s not broken, fractured or whatever, we’ll just take this 10 days to rest it and see where we go from there. We want to get it better than it is for sure.”

Melvin said Adam Rosales takes over as the primary shortstop for now, with Pinder backing up both him and second baseman Jed Lowrie.

 

Alonso strikes a chord with fascinating account of Cuba defection

Alonso strikes a chord with fascinating account of Cuba defection

ANAHEIM — As Yonder Alonso was preparing for the 2017 season last winter, he was tackling another challenge too.

Over the course of three months, the A’s first baseman gathered his thoughts and pieced together a fascinating first-person account for The Players’ Tribune about his childhood experience defecting from Cuba with his parents and younger sister.

Alonso framed the article as him penning a letter to his 8-year-old self, describing the grueling struggle he and his family would go through while reassuring his younger self that it would all be worth it when he finally made it as a major leaguer. Alonso describes in vivid detail the hardships he went through, caring for his sister, Yainee, at night as they dined on meals of microwaved hot dogs and microwaved eggs, while his parents were away from home working multiple jobs to support their family.

Alonso goes on to describe how he would return from college baseball road trips, while he was attending the University of Miami, and immediately head to a night job to help his father clean warehouses and scrub bathrooms.

The story struck a chord within the A’s clubhouse but also among so many people from the Miami area, where Alonso’s family settled after they defected. Alonso said he’s received text messages from many of them.

“I think everybody in this locker room, or any locker room, they definitely have a story to tell,” Alonso said. “And I think it’s awesome when you see a guy just kind of open up a little bit. I’m (usually) not one to open up.”

Athletes are used to reporters peppering them with questions and trying to draw stories out of them. Seldom do athletes take to penning their own story.

Representatives from The Players’ Tribune, an online publication started by Derek Jeter in 2014, reached out to Alonso in early December about writing something. Alonso had a trip planned to Cuba for later that month, before any request for an article came, and his return visit to his native country helped persuade him to go through with it.

“I saw a lot of people,” he said. “For me it was very touching. For my wife as well.”

Alonso met with an editor from The Players’ Tribune during spring training, and they began hashing out ideas. Alonso said he wrote the story himself with assistance from the editor.

“We had ideas, different ways of going about it,” he said. “I think from day one I knew the way I wanted to write it and how I wanted it to come out, which is a letter to my younger self.”

Even after finishing the project three weeks ago, Alonso said he wasn’t sure he wanted to share it publicly. He showed the article to some friends and teammates, including A’s reliever Sean Doolittle and outfielder Matt Joyce. After reading the piece, Joyce strongly persuaded Alonso to carry through with it.

“I told him it was awesome,” Joyce said. “From my perspective, you don’t really get a good sense of what those guys go through, coming over to the States. You just see them later. So to kind of read it in his own words, it was a really cool perspective and a good story to see what a kid across the water, from a different country, goes through to get to this point. I think it’s a very powerful story and message.”

Alonso said his motivation was simple.

“Just letting my family know, and people in this world know, that if you want to strive for something, it can be tough at times. But there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Manaea felt 'little sharp pain', but status of shoulder not immediately known

Manaea felt 'little sharp pain', but status of shoulder not immediately known

ANAHEIM — Sean Manaea is hopeful his left shoulder injury isn’t serious, but the A’s likely won’t have a full read on the starter’s condition for a couple days.

As of Wednesday night, no MRI was scheduled after Manaea left after just two innings of an eventual 8-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels with tightness in his shoulder.

“I felt it a little bit in the bullpen,” Manaea said. “I thought it was just one of those days where it took me longer to warm up, and that just wasn’t the case. It’s just really unfortunate.”

Just as the A’s are about to welcome Kendall Graveman back to the active roster Thursday, when he starts the series finale at Angel Stadium, and just as it appears Sonny Gray might be ready to come off the disabled list following one more rehab start, the A’s are hoping they don’t see Manaea subtracted from their rotation for any period of time.

Manager Bob Melvin said it was the top of Manaea’s shoulder that was bothering him.

“The velo was down, and it didn’t make sense to have him keep pitching,” Melvin said. “But we won’t know anything probably for a day or two, how he feels.”

Once he started throwing in the game, Manaea said he felt “kind of a little sharp pain. I mean, it’s nothing serious. I’ve dealt with it before and it only took me a few days to get back on the mound. To me, I’m not really worried about it.”

The pitcher added that he experienced a similar situation with his shoulder while a minor leaguer in Kansas City’s organization, toward the end of spring training, and he missed minimal time.

Things didn’t get better for the A’s (10-11) after Manaea exited, as they struck out 13 times and played sloppy defensively in dropping their third in a row. Catcher Stephen Vogt couldn’t handle Ryan Dull’s glove flip to the plate on a seventh-inning squeeze play, ending a streak of six errorless games for Oakland, but Melvin can live with occasional physical misplays. More problematic were occasions when right fielder Matt Joyce and center fielder Jaff Decker both seemed caught by surprise to see Angels runners take off for an extra base. Whether it was a lack of communication from infielders or the outfielders themselves needing to be more aware, the A’s can’t afford those kinds of mistakes.

“As a group, we can’t let that happen,” Melvin said. “We talk about it in advance meetings the way these guys run the bases. It’s not something we can do and expect to beat this team.”

Added Vogt: “We were on our heels quite a bit. This was obviously not the prettiest baseball game we’ve played.”