A's lineup: Cespedes returns

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A's lineup: Cespedes returns

PROGRAMMING NOTE: A's Pregame Live begins at 5:00 on Comcast SportsNet California, followed by A's-Rockies at 5:40, and A's Postgame Live immediately after the final out.A's lineup (27-35)Weeks, 2B
Cowgill, CF
Smith RF
Cespedes LF
Inge 3B
Donaldson C
Moss 1B
Pennington SS
Milone LHP
Instant AnalysisYoenis Cespedes returns to the lineup after straining his left hamstring on Thursday against the Rangers. He has missed 27 games this season, and the A's struggle without him. With Cespedes in the lineup, the A's are 19-16, compared to 8-19 without him. Cespedes will be back in left field, with Collin Cowgill playing center field. Playing in a corner outfield spot should limit the amount of running he will have to do. The A's slugging outfielder has six hits in his last six plate appearances, which hasn't been done since Mark Ellis did it in 2006. The A's record for consecutive plate appearances with a hit is seven. Noticeably absent from the lineup card is right fielder Josh Reddick. He is likely getting routine rest. He hasn't had a game off in a while, and hasn't hit a home run in the month of June, after hitting 10 in May. Top of the orderJemile Weeks went 2 for 4 on Tuesday. He is hitting .302 (19-63) over his last 16 games. He is hitting .429 on breaking pitches in the month of June.Cowgill returns to the A's lineup after sitting for a while in favor of veteran center fielder Coco Crisp. When in the lineup, Cowgill has impressed, hitting .359 (14-39) over his last 11 games. Heart of the orderSeth Smith moves up to the third spot in the lineup. Batting Smith third against a left-handed pitcher appears to be a big leap of faith for A's manager Bob Melvin. Smith is typically a platoon player, and he is only hitting .217 against left-handed pitching this season, while hitting .273 against right-handers. The former Colorado outfielder has been on a tear lately, batting .542 (13 for 24) with four doubles, one triple, one homer, and seven RBIs over his last seven games. He has a five-game hitting streak. Cespedes is batting fourth, with Brandon Inge batting fifth. Inge has a .500 on-base percentage over his last eight games. He is the only hitter in the A's lineup that has faced Outman, going 0 for 1 against him. Bottom of the orderKurt Suzuki gets a day off, with Josh Donaldson catching. Brandon Moss who hit the first third-deck homer of the season in Colorado on Tuesday is in the lineup batting seventh. Moss has four hits since joining the A's one week ago, three of them are home runs.Tommy Milone is the most effective hitter in the A's pitching rotation. Last year with the Nationals, he hit a three-run homer in his first career at-bat. He also got a two-run hit against the Diamondbacks in his first at-bat with the A's. Colorado Rockies (24-36) lineupNote: Carlos Gonzalez is not in the llneupFowler CF
Scutaro SS
Colvin LF
Cuddyer RF
Helton 1B
Pacheco 3B
Rosario C
Nelson 2B
Outman LHP

A's spring training Day 13: Gossett part of fifth starter mix

A's spring training Day 13: Gossett part of fifth starter mix

MESA, Ariz. — An unexpected opportunity came Daniel Gossett’s way Sunday, and the young right-hander took it in stride.

When the A’s adjusted their starting rotation, Kendall Graveman got bumped to Monday and Gossett learned he’d be taking the ball to start Sunday’s Cactus League home opener against the Los Angeles Angels.

“I’m here for what they need me for,” Gossett said. “So anything they need, gimme the ball.”

He spun two scoreless innings in a game Oakland lost 5-3 at Hohokam Stadium. A nice first impression for Gossett, indeed, but the truth is A’s officials were already quite familiar with him.

A second-round pick out of Clemson in 2014, Gossett impressed at three levels of the farm system in 2016, beginning the year with Single-A Stockton and finishing it with Triple-A Nashville.

This is his first big league camp, and manager Bob Melvin even mentioned Gossett as being part of the fifth starter conversation.

“He impressed everybody in the organization last year, so when talking about that fifth spot, who knows?” Melvin said before the game.

The only blemishes on Gossett’s day were the pair of walks he issued. After walking Jefrey Marte to lead off the second, he got a lift from his catcher, as Josh Phegley fired a strike to second to nail Marte trying to steal.

“A pitcher’s best friend, I guess,” Gossett said. He went 10-6 with a 2.69 ERA across 27 starts at all three levels of the minors last year, and his 151 strikeouts led the A’s farm system. Gossett’s fastball ranges anywhere from 90-95 on the gun. He throws a changeup that gets the most swings and misses, plus a slider and curve.

Grady Fuson, an A’s special assistant to the general manager, liked the adjustments he saw with Gossett over the course of last season.

“He’s a super kid, a grinder,” Fuson said over the winter. “He’s a guy that hadn’t struck many guys out and had been very hittable in the strike zone. (In 2016), he started executing to different parts of the zone that limits the hard contact.”

CAMP BATTLE: Alejandro De Aza sparked the A’s first rally in the third Sunday with a triple, then scored on Mark Canha’s double. With Jake Smolinski sidelined currently by a shoulder issue, it’s a good time for De Aza, a non-roster invitee to camp, to make his mark. The door could be open for him to make a push to make the roster as a fifth outfielder.

“He’s an interesting guy,” Melvin said of the nine-year veteran. “He knows how to play the game, he can play all three outfield spots. We’ve seen him before when he’s given us trouble, too, with the White Sox.”

Another contender for a reserve outfield spot is Jaycob Brugman, who has yet to crack the majors but is already on the 40-man roster. He singled home a run in the seventh. Like De Aza and Smolinski, Brugman can play center field, and it stands to reason the A’s will want to carry someone who can back up Rajai Davis at that position.

NOTEWORTHY: Phegley admitted to some butterflies before getting behind the plate for his first game since July, when a right knee injury wiped out the rest of his season.

But he looked good springing up to nail Marte on the second-inning steal attempt. The A’s are counting on Phegley returning to his role as the right-handed hitting platoon partner with Stephen Vogt behind the plate.

STOCK RISING: Melvin was impressed, and entertained, by the first look he got at reliever Simon Castro on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. Castro retired Kris Bryant to strand a runner at third, the only hitter he faced. But it was what happened before the at-bat that caught Melvin’s attention.

“When he came to the mound he was pretty vocal,” Melvin noted. “He was fired up, telling the guys ‘Let’s go!’ I haven’t heard that too many times out of pitchers, let alone in spring training. So he impressed me with his eagerness to pitch.”

FAMILIAR FACES: Campy Campaneris and Blue Moon Odom each threw out ceremonial first pitches before Sunday’s exhibition home opener, which drew a smallish crowd of 4,072.

A’s reliever, movie buff Axford makes 2017 Oscars predictions

A’s reliever, movie buff Axford makes 2017 Oscars predictions

Update: Axford finished the night correctly predicting 19 of 24 Oscars this year.

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A's reliever John Axford is not your casual movie fan. 

Axford majored in Film at Notre Dame and has a proven track record when it comes to the biggest night for movies. 

The last two years, Axford correctly predicted 17 of 24 winners for the Academy Awards. In 2014, Axford went a perfect 18-of-18 with his predictions. 

On Saturday, Axford offered 24 predictions for the 2017 Oscars. 

Axford is a clear believer in La La Land, choosing the film for eights Oscars, after winning a record-breaking seven Golden Globes. 

Will he go a perfect 24-for-24 this year?