OAKLAND -- He may not have white cleats yet, but he's an Oakland Athletic. George Kottaras has arrived in Oakland after being acquired in a trade on Sunday from the Brewers. He joins an A's team that is unquestionably the hottest in baseball, and will be tasked with catching a pitching staff that is first in the American League with a 3.44 ERA. No pressure. Kottaras' main goal is simply to fit in. Don't move anything, don't alter anything, just go with the flow. "Everyone is pitching great, so I want to kind of roll on from where they are now," Kottaras said. "I'm not going to change a thing. I'm going to see what they are doing and go along with that." The A's new catcher arrived late last night. He got a chance to meet his teammates for the first time on Monday. He likes what he sees."Great attitude in here, I see guys having fun and also getting their work in," he said. "That's the way it should be."Kottaras, 29, is left-handed so he adds another dimension to the A's offense from the catcher position. Kurt Suzuki and Derek Norris both bat from the right side. A's manager Bob Melvin likes to platoon hitters. He believes that has been one of the main reasons the A's offense is performing so well. His plan is to use Kottaras and Suzuki in that fashion.The idea of a platoon has a lot to do with why rookie catcher Derek Norris -- who had been seeing roughly two starts to every one Suzuki was getting -- was sent down. "I don't think we wanted to get in a position with him where we were platooning," Melvin said. "He knows he can play here. For a young catcher he was very well received by the pitching staff. Sometimes that's difficult to do." Norris played in 21 games with the A's since being called up on June 21. He batted .195 with three homers, 11 RBIs and a surprising three stolen bases in his time with Oakland. He gained a lot of valuable information on the A's starting pitchers and learned how to carry himself at the big league level."Norris handled himself very well," Melvin said. "We won a lot of games with him in the lineup. It was valuable experience for him. He is going to be a heck of a player down the road." You can trust Melvin's opinion when it comes to catchers. He spent 10 years in the big leagues donning the tools of ignorance. So what did Melvin think of his new backstop? "He works the count, gets on base, he's got a little power in his bat, and they say he calls a good game," Melvin said. Sounds like Kottaras has everything he needs to succeed here -- except white cleats. He was wearing someone else's white kicks in the clubhouse to fit in. "These were handed over for me," he said proudly while modeling them for us. "It's pretty cool walking around with white cleats." Notes:- Coco Crisp is still nursing a hamstring injury. He won't get in the field on Monday. They A's hope to run him around on Tuesday and re-evaluate him. - Cliff Pennington hit off the tee on Saturday. Monday he took some soft toss, hit off the tee and did some dry swings. Its the first day he feels pretty good and hasn't been sore while swinging. Melvin says that he'll have a better idea how soon they can get Pennington back when he starts taking batting practice. He noted that Pennington would have to go on a rehab assignment before returning. - Brandon McCarthy pitches for the Sacramento River Cats in Reno tonight. Brett Anderson goes Tuesday. Anderson will throw around 75 pitches.
Bob Melvin has issued his lineup as the A's try to snap a five-game losing streak in Game 2 of a series against the Astros.
Oakland A's (10-13)
1. Jaff Decker (L) RF
2. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
3. Ryon Healy (R) DH
4. Khris Davis (R) LF
5. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
6. Trevor Plouffe (R) 3B
7. Stephen Vogt (L) C
8. Chad Pinder (R) SS
9. Ryan LaMarre (R) CF
Andrew Triggs -- RHP
Houston Astros (15-8)
1. George Springer (R) CF
2. Josh Reddick (L) RF
3. Jose Altuve (R) 2B
4. Carlos Correa (R) SS
5. Carlos Beltran (S) LF
6. Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
7. Brian McCann (L) C
8. Evan Gattis (R) DH
9. Alex Bregman (R) 3B
Joe Musgrove -- RHP
HOUSTON — Enduring a five-game losing streak is tough enough on its own.
Watching a former teammate play a part in prolonging the misery is worse.
Josh Reddick wasn’t the most dominant player on the field Friday for the Astros, but he picked his spots to make his presence felt, and that added a little salt to the wound for the A’s in a 9-4 defeat that was their fifth in a row. They’ve now lost 10 straight times to Houston.
Reddick was mad at himself after not making the play on Ryon Healy’s double in the sixth inning. He got another chance in the eighth and robbed his former roommate with a terrific catch as he slammed into the wall to end the inning. That stranded two runners and preserved what was a 7-4 lead at the time.
“Any time you’re playing against your former team you wanna do well against them. Beating them makes it a little bit sweeter,” Reddick said. “But when you can make a catch against a guy you became pretty good buddies with in a tight situation, it adds more to that.”
After Healy got his first big league call-up last July, and before the A’s traded Reddick to the Dodgers on Aug. 1, Reddick invited the rookie to move into his house as he cut his teeth in the bigs.
“I’m going to be giving Ryon a lot of crap, I guess you could say,” Reddick said afterward. “He gave me a little signal and finger wave and shook his head on the (double). I got him back and a little bit of payback.”
Reddick, who signed a four-year $52 million free agent deal with Houston in the offseason, was a pest to the A’s in more unconventional ways too. Twice he reached base on catcher’s interference calls when his bat hit the mitt of Stephen Vogt, another of Reddick’s closest friends on the A’s. It happened in the bottom of the first and contributed to the Astros’ three-run rally that tied the game off Jharel Cotton after the A’s had grabbed a 3-0 lead on Khris Davis’ three-run homer.
Vogt talked about both interference plays with mild disgust, more upset with the situation itself than Reddick personally.
“Typically I’m pretty far back behind the batter," Vogt said. “Reddick, I guess, has a pretty long swing when he’s trying to go the other way. … It’s just one of those freak things that obviously I’m not real thrilled about. It’s just frustrating. You don’t see it very often. It’s not really how you swing the bat typically, but he does a good job going the other way, and it’s on me. I’ve gotta make sure I’m far enough back and not reaching for the ball.”
As for Reddick’s important catch in the eighth, Vogt said:
“It’s hard to see him in a different uniform, and I know he loved it here as well. It’s hard to see him playing against us 19 times. To see him making catches like that, it’s not very much fun when he’s not wearing green.”
However, the A’s have more pressing issues than getting stung by old friends. They’ve struck out 57 times over the past five games, and with each day that passes, it’s increasingly clear how much they miss the speed and playmaking ability of center fielder Rajai Davis, as well as the offensive production of shortstop Marcus Semien. Both are on the disabled list, Davis for the short term with a strained hamstring and Semien likely for a couple of months due to wrist surgery.
Cotton wasn’t sharp, allowing a career-high 10 hits and failing to protect two early leads he was given. Those are the growing pains that will come for a rookie pitcher. What the A’s can’t afford are three-error nights like they had Friday and continuing to whiff at their current rate.
“When we went through our winning streak, we played real clean games, and now we’re a little shoddy,” manager Bob Melvin said. “There’s a psychological play that goes with that. When you’re not making plays and giving extra outs, it makes it tougher on pitchers and tougher mentally.”