Kurt Suzuki homers in A's 12-6 loss to Hanshin


Kurt Suzuki homers in A's 12-6 loss to Hanshin

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TOKYO (AP) Kurt Suzuki hit his second home run in Japan on Monday in the Oakland Athletics' 12-6 loss to the Hanshin Tigers in an exhibition game.Oakland shortstop Cliff Pennington led off the fourth inning with a solo homer and Suzuki, who hit a two-run home run in the Athletics' 5-0 win over the Yomiuri Giants on Sunday, connected for a three-run shot at Tokyo Dome to cut Hanshin's lead to 7-4."I was just trying to put the barrel on the ball and keep it simple," Suzuki said. "When you go out there you can't take anything for granted and have to play hard."The Athletics are in Japan to open the season against Ichiro Suzuki and the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday and Thursday.Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes sat out Monday's exhibition after leaving Sunday night's contest because of cramps in his quadriceps. Cespedes was 0 for 4 in Sunday's game against the Giants but is expected to be in the lineup for Wednesday's game.The Tigers took a 7-0 lead through the first three innings, taking advantage of some sloppy defensive play by the A's.In the bottom of the third, Hanshin scored four runs. Former major leaguer Craig Brazell hit an RBI single to right, scoring Takeshi Toritani. Tomoaki Kanemoto drove in another run with a double and Brazell and Kanemoto both scored on a throwing error by Pennington."Today wasn't our best day," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "We had a good spring executing defense, but weren't able to do that today. Take nothing away from them, we just didn't play one of our better games and they took it to us."Brazell, who was 2 for 3 Monday and had three hits in his team's 5-1 win on Sunday, said it was good to face major league pitching again."I was a little nervous at first because it's been five years since I hit major league pitching," Brazell said. "But to be able to come out and hit like this gives me a lot of confidence for the season."Oakland starter Tyson Ross gave up eight runs - six earned - and 10 hits in just four innings.
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A's coach plays part in Schwarber's World Series comeback

A's coach plays part in Schwarber's World Series comeback

Ryan Christenson has a reason to follow the World Series even more so than most years.

Christenson, who manages the A’s Double-A Midland squad, is also skippering the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League. One of his players happened to be Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber, if only for the briefest of periods.

Schwarber, as is well-documented, played in two AFL games as a quick tune-up before joining the Cubs’ active roster for the Fall Classic. It’s an unprecedented path, as Schwarber hadn’t appeared in a game for Chicago since April 7, when he tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee.

When he crushed a double off the right field wall in Game 1 against the Indians’ Corey Kluber, Schwarber became the first position player in major league history to get a hit in the World Series after recording zero hits during the regular season.

His preparations for the grand stage took place in the relative anonymity of the Arizona Fall League, and it presented some unique conditions for Christenson to manage under.

“It’s such a unique situation to see someone thrust into that after missing so much season,” Christenson said in a phone interview before Game 1. “To have a chance to be activated this time of year, it’s something special if he can pull this off. If he (sparks the Cubs), literally the guy can be a legend.”

Schwarber appeared in just two games for the Solar Sox, going 1-for-6 as a designated hitter. Christenson didn’t have much hands-on interaction with Schwarber — the Cubs had their own staff members on site helping him with treatment — but Christenson saw Schwarber’s swing rounding into form even in his brief time in the batter’s box.

“The bat speed is there,” said Christenson, who hadn’t met Schwarber previously. “I love watching him work in the cage. He’s got a great swing. I don’t think it would take someone of his caliber long to get his timing and pick up where he left off. It’s a simple swing.”

The Cubs asked Christenson to work Schwarber into the top of the batting order with the Solar Sox so as to maximize his number of plate appearances. They also asked one other favor.

“The only request they had was that I took it easy with him on the bases … not trying to score him from first base on a gapper.”

Schwarber’s mere presence in the Arizona Fall League created a delicate dynamic. The league is geared toward up-and-coming prospects who have yet to break into the majors, and Christenson said AFL officials were concerned about Schwarber dropping in and taking playing time away from those players.

Each major league organization sends at least six players to the AFL. Of those six, one is designated a “priority player,” meaning they must play at least four days a week, so innings can be tricky to spread around.

Adding to the sensitivity of the situation, the Solar Sox’s roster includes not only Cubs prospects but also those of the Cleveland Indians. Christenson needed to avoid a situation where Schwarber was stealing at-bats away from prospects of the American League champs — the team that Schwarber was training to try to help the Cubs beat.

But things unfolded smoothly, and Schwarber showed appreciation for getting the chance to drop in for a couple games.

“I’ll definitely be pulling for him,” Christenson said.

A's claim left-handed reliever off waivers from Cubs

A's claim left-handed reliever off waivers from Cubs

CLEVELAND — Left-hander Giovanni Soto has been claimed by the Oakland Athletics off waivers from the Chicago Cubs.

Soto was designated for assignment Saturday to open a spot on the 40-man roster for slugger Kyle Schwarber, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list following knee surgery in April. Schwarber was put on the World Series roster Tuesday and went 1 for 3 with a double, walk and two strikeouts in the opening 6-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

Soto was traded to the Cubs from Cleveland on April 11 and was 1-3 with a 5.14 ERA in 33 relief appearances for Triple-A Iowa. He made his big league debut with the Indians in 2015 and appeared in six games and 3 1/3 innings.

Oakland claimed him Wednesday.