Hamilton slumping ahead of A's series

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Hamilton slumping ahead of A's series

It's hard to suggest that there's ever a good time to face Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton.

But if there is, the A's might be catching the perennial All-Star at less than his best in the two-game series that begins Tuesday night in Oakland.

Sunday, after going 0-for-3 for the second day in a row, Hamilton admitted to the Dallas Morning News that he was looking forward to Monday's day off.

Hamilton said that he was fatigued from the All-Star Game. Since returning from the break he has gone 1-for-10 with six strikeouts and one RBI.

I didnt think I was that much tired until today, Hamilton told the paper. Im looking forward to Monday. I need to get back into a routine. You cant have a routine at the All-Star Game because there is so much going on. Hopefully, I can start hitting.

RELATED: Hamilton stats splits game logs

Hamilton's 2-for-23 slump has dropped his average to a season-low .301 after being at a majors-best .404 in mid-May. he was the AL player of the month in both April and May.

"I've been struggling for the last month ... no excuses," Hamilton told the Rangers' official site. "Honestly I feel really good at the plate. Even before the All-Star Game and at the All-Star Game I had good at-bats, hitting the ball hard and hitting it right at people."

One thing that could be compounding his struggles at the plate is his attempt to quit chewing tobacco. He told reporters last month that he was trying to quit a 10-year habit.

Hamilton said hes now using toothpicks treated with tea tree oil, gum or sunflower seeds. In the first six games since he stopped, he struck out 14 times.

NOTES: The Rangers will be without former Giants catcher Yorvit Torrealba for the series with the A's. Torrealba returned to his home in Venezuela after Sundays game to be with his wife for the birth of their third child. Manager Ron Washington said that Mike Napoli, who bruised his knee last weekend, will be ready to go. As a precaution, the Rangers called up Luis Martinez from Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday. ... Texas plans to activate Colby Lewis (right elbow inflammation) on Wednesday to start against Oakland.

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

Lazaro Armenteros, the A’s 17-year-old stud outfield prospect better known as “Lazarito,” is believed to have become the youngest player in franchise history to appear in a Cactus League game.

Armenteros entered at the DH spot in the eighth against the Dodgers and went 0-for-2, flying out to right-center and popping up to shallow center. With the A’s short on position players, Armenteros was brought over from minor league camp and got a little exposure to the big league environment.

“He’s quite athletic, and I know they love him over there” at minor league camp, A's manager Bob Melvin recently said.

Armenteros also got a chance to mingle with Dodger outfielder (and fellow Cuban) Yasiel Puig before the game.

“Over there (in Cuba) you kind of play the game because you like it and you enjoy it,” Armenteros recently said through interpreter Juan Dorado. “Here, it’s more like a job. There’s more preparation.”

Armenteros will stay in Arizona through extended spring training and then head to play in the Dominican Summer League.

A's spring training Day 40: Manaea downplays struggles after walking five

A's spring training Day 40: Manaea downplays struggles after walking five

MESA, Ariz. — Something flipped a switch inside Sean Manaea in the third inning Saturday, and the A’s left-hander pitched with the aggressiveness he’s shown most of spring training.

It was a different story before that, as Manaea issued five walks, two of them forcing in runs, against the Cincinnati Reds. His final Cactus League outing ended after just three innings, his pitch count at more than 70, and he was charged with five earned runs.

“I was trying to nibble at the corners too much,” Manaea said. “The third inning I finally just said, ‘Throw it right down the middle and let them hit it.’”

The plan was to get Manaea close to 90 pitches, so he went to the bullpen and threw 10 more after he was pulled from the game. He entered the day with a 2.81 ERA in his first five outings, walking just one in each of those games.

He downplayed his struggles Saturday in Oakland’s 11-6 split-squad defeat at Hohokam Stadium, and manager Bob Melvin wasn’t expressing major concern either.

“He was just out of sync,” Melvin said. “Typically you don’t see him walk guys like that, let alone multiple guys in a row. It was just a tough day for him. We wanted to try to get him close to 90 pitches. But when you’re throwing that many pitches in three innings, I just couldn’t risk sending him back out there.”

Manaea was stressing the positives of his camp afterward. As he preps for one final tune-up start at AT&T Park against the Giants in the Bay Bridge Series, he particularly likes the way his slider has rounded into form.

“Just being able to have that confidence to throw it for a strike and get weak ground balls and swings and misses, it’s huge,” he said.

CAMP BATTLE: The A’s lost their other split-squad matchup by an identical 11-6 score to the Dodgers in Glendale. Jesse Hahn took the hill and struggled for the second consecutive outing, allowing two homers — including a grand slam by Andrew Toles — and surrendering seven runs (five earned) over 3 1/3 innings. Competing for one of two open rotation spots, Hahn hasn’t shown his best in the Cactus League stretch run. He gave up seven runs against Colorado in his previous start.

ODDS AND ENDS: Third baseman Trevor Plouffe had two more hits against the Reds to raise his average to .425 but left the game after tweaking an abductor muscle in his lower body. “He felt like he’s OK. We just didn’t wanna risk that,” Melvin said. … Rajai Davis connected for his first spring home run and scored three runs. … Sean Doolittle gave up two runs in his inning of work but struck out three. He sported his new eyeglasses for the first time in a major league game. … Matt Chapman hit a three-run homer off former Athletic Rich Hill in the game at Glendale.