A's lineup: Crisp returns

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A's lineup: Crisp returns

Programming note: Toronto-A's coverage begins tonight at 6:30 p.m. with A's Pregame Live, and baseball follows from Oakland on Comcast SportsNet California!

OAKLAND -- The A's may not have made a deadline deal but they are still shaking up their roster. Multiple sources say that Dan Straily is joining the A's and starting on Friday in place of Travis Blackley. The A's likely won't announce the move until Friday prior to his start but Blackley is already listed among relievers on the lineup card.The A's also recalled infielder Adam Rosales and optioned shortstop Brandon Hicks to Triple-A. This will be Rosales' third time with A's this season. He is batting .167 in 13 games in Oakland with a .394 on-base percentage. He was hitting .280 in Sacramento with eight homers, 47 RBIs and 26 walks.Brandon Hicks hit a game-tying homer that helped the A's win a 15-inning contest against the Rays on Monday, but badly misplayed a ball that lead to a run in Tuesday's 8-0 loss to Tampa Bay. He hit .183 in Oakland with his first three career homers in 20 games.In other noteworthy news, Coco Crisp who has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury is back in the starting lineup.Oakland Athletics (56-48) lineupCoco Crisp, CF
Seth Smith, DH
Josh Reddick, RF
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Brandon Moss, 1B
Brandon Inge, 3B
George Kottaras, C
Adam Rosales, SS
Eric Sogard, 2B
Instant AnalysisCoco Crisp's return to the lineup should provide a spark for an A's team that scored just six runs total over the four games he missed. The fact he is starting in center field is a very good sign that he has recovered from the hamstring issue that held him out.Eric Sogard is starting at second base for Jemile Weeks who has been struggling a little offensively and defensively. The A's likely chose to keep Sogard instead of Hicks because he is more versatile in the field. Rosales' addition might be a temporary one because Cliff Pennington is taking batting practice on the field and then likely starting a rehab assignment on Friday. In case you are wondering that is just one reason why Grant Green wasn't called up.Top of the OrderThe A's were 16-2 in July with Crisp atop the lineup. The veteran center fielder caught fire last month hitting .342 with three homers, two doubles, two triples, 11 runs scored.Heart of the OrderJosh Reddick is struggling lately offensively. He is stuck in an 0 for 21 slump since crashing into the wall in Baltimore. The A's say there is no reason for concern regarding Reddick's issues at the plate.Brandon Inge has an A's season-high 11-game hitting streak. He has been a steady source of RBIs since the A's acquired him. In his 54 hits with the A's Inge has 47 RBIs.Bottom of the OrderGeorge Kottaras is back in the lineup. The left-handed catcher will be used primarily in a platoon role with Kurt Suzuki. Expect to see Kottaras starting most times there is a right-handed pitcher on the mound. He went 1 for 3 in his A's debut. Catching Bartolo Colon should be a simple task. All the throws are fastballs. Starting PitchersColon (7-8, 3.78 ERA) will begin the four-game home series with the Jays. He will be making his 21st start of the season. Colon's 2.65 ERA in July was the 10th lowest in the American League that month.The Blue Jays will be sending Henderson Alvarez (7-7, 4.43) to the mound. Alvarez is 0-1 in his career against the A's with a 3.09 ERA in 11.2 innings.

A's spring training Day 10: Canha doubles off Gray in intrasquad game

A's spring training Day 10: Canha doubles off Gray in intrasquad game

MESA, Ariz. — The A’s had four lineups sketched out for two intrasquad games taking place simultaneously Thursday.

You couldn’t help but notice that one of the lineups in particular was packed with Oakland’s regulars, and there were plenty of highlights delivered by notable names during the two-inning game at the A’s minor league facility.

Sonny Gray gave up a run on Mark Canha’s RBI double to right-center in his inning of work but also struck out Ryon Healy with a good breaking ball. Gray’s stuff earned solid reviews from manager Bob Melvin.

Overall, Melvin was pleasantly surprised with some of the hard contact generated by his hitters, who had seen just two days of live batting practice prior to Thursday.

“Canha hits a pitch down that’s moving all over the place to right-center,” Melvin said.

In the same game, Rajai Davis hit a leadoff triple to center off Kendall Graveman and came home on Stephen Vogt’s single. Graveman got Matt Joyce looking on a fastball but gave up some hard contact in a brief 15-pitch outing. He’ll start Sunday’s game against the Angels, so Thursday’s outing acted like a between-start bullpen session.

In the other game, Sean Manaea got his three outs so quickly that they had to extend the inning a bit for him to get his work in. That game was highlighted by a long home run from infield prospect Yairo Munoz off Daniel Coulombe.

Melvin said bench coach Mark Kotsay handled duties of sketching out the rosters for the two intrasquad games, and while it will be interesting to see how Melvin writes out the lineup for Saturday’s exhibition opener against the Chicago Cubs, keep in mind that the early Cactus League games will only feature a handful of regulars in each of them.

PROSPECT WATCH: Shortstop Franklin Barreto, the A’s top-rated prospect, will also see some time at second base this spring but not in the outfield, Melvin said. Barreto has played some center field in winter ball, but general manager David Forst, during an offseason interview with CSN California, said the team envisions Barreto as an infielder. The A’s have Marcus Semien entrenched at shortstop right now, and there’s been some feeling among scouts that Barreto — whose bat is his biggest strength — is better suited for second base long-term anyway. Another highly touted prospect, Richie Martin, is a possible shortstop of the future as well.

NOTEWORTHY: The A’s have expressed optimism that reliever Santiago Casilla will arrive in camp shortly after being delayed by the visa process in the Dominican Republic. But Casilla remains day-to-day, with Melvin not giving a timetable for his arrival.

“We were going to slow-play him this spring anyway. He’ll throw some bullpens and probably throw to some hitters before we get him in a game,” Melvin said. “At this point in time I’m still not that concerned. I’ll start to be a little bit if we get into games (and he’s not in camp), but I still think we’re on a good schedule with him.”

ODDS AND ENDS: Oscar-nominated actor Mahershala Ali, an Oakland native who threw out the first pitch at an A’s game last season, arranged for a screening of his movie “Moonlight” on Thursday night for A’s players at a Scottsdale theatre. Ali is nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the movie, which is also up for Best Picture.

“It’s nice of him to think of that and want to set that up,” reliever John Axford said. “I’ve already seen it and I’ll be there again.”

Axford, a movie fanatic and Film & Television major in college, has created a social media buzz in recent years by doing incredibly well predicting the Oscar winners. He has yet to reveal all of his picks for Sunday’s show, but he gives rave reviews to “Moonlight.”

Patience is A's motto with touted 3B prospect Matt Chapman

Patience is A's motto with touted 3B prospect Matt Chapman

MESA, Ariz. — When the A’s finally sent Matt Chapman to the minors at the end of spring training last year, it seemed his return ticket to Oakland wouldn’t be far off.

So good was the young third baseman during his first big league spring camp, it was easy to assume he’d arrive in the majors shortly. But Chapman, the No. 3 prospect in the A’s system, found the road bumpy during a full campaign with Double-A Midland, even as he put together a season that landed him Texas League Player of the Year honors.

Chapman is back for his second spring with the A’s, a year wiser having discovered what it takes to navigate the peaks and valleys of a full professional season.

“I learned that no matter how high or how low you get, it’s important to maintain an even keel,” said Chapman, who only played 80 games in 2015 due to a wrist injury. “You can have a bad week or a bad couple weeks, and it doesn’t ruin your season.”

The A’s believe they have a potential star on their hands, a Gold Glove-caliber defender who can hit for power and eventually become a fixture at the hot corner. Yet their signing of veteran third baseman Trevor Plouffe in the winter shows that they also believe Chapman, 23, still has developing to do.

The power numbers were marvelous last year, as Chapman hit the third-most homers in the minors (36) to go with 96 RBI. But he also struck out 173 times in 135 games, dealing with some timing issues that had him swinging through a ton of pitches.

A’s player development officials rave about Chapman’s work ethic and desire to excel. But his manager at Midland, Ryan Christenson, also said Chapman’s electrifying spring performance last year (he led the A’s with six homers) may have worked against him early on when he arrived at Double-A. The A’s took Chapman north with them for the Bay Bridge Series just before Opening Day, giving him a chance to take the field at the Coliseum and AT&T Park.

“You talked to him, and he thought he was gonna go right to Midland and dominate the league and be in the big leagues by July,” Christenson said. “For sure, he thought that. But that didn’t happen, and he struggled and got his butt handed to him. And he understood there was still some work to be done at that level.”

But Christenson liked how Chapman dealt with the adversity, and he was all the more impressed with Chapman’s final stats given that his season wasn’t marked by numerous hot streaks.

“If you watched him it wasn’t a consistent, successful season to the eye,” Christenson said. “Now, the numbers at the end just shows you what kind of special talent he is.”

Chapman, who played 18 games with Triple-A Nashville in a late-season promotion, will be reunited with Christenson this season as Christenson takes over as Nashville’s manager. The A’s brass will be watching closely, though the comments from A’s GM David Forst all offseason stressed a theme of patience with not only Chapman but the team’s other top position-player prospect, middle infielder Franklin Barreto.

“We’re making sure guys are ready when they get here,” Forst said. “Matt has fewer than 100 at-bats at Triple-A. I don’t know what his timeframe is as far as getting to the big leagues, but it’s clear from a development standpoint he still needs some time at Triple-A.”

Christenson said any struggles Chapman had offensively in 2016 never carried over into his play at third base. And Christenson attests to the defensive talent the A’s saw when they drafted Chapman in the first round in 2014 out of Cal State Fullerton.

“One of the best I’ve ever seen,” Christenson said. “He’s lateral, he can go back on a pop-up and make a play. He’s very adept at coming in to barehand the slow roller. You put him over at shortstop in the shift and he can make the play, and the arm is about as good as you’re ever gonna see at third base.”