Athletics

A's lineup: Is Norris team's starting catcher?

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A's lineup: Is Norris team's starting catcher?

PROGRAMMING NOTE: A's Pregame Live begins at 6:30 on CSN California, followed by A's-Mariners at 7:05, and A's Postgame Live immedately after the final out.

Oakland Athletics (41-42)
Coco Crisp, CF
Jemile Weeks, 2B
Josh Reddick, RF
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Seth Smith, DH
Brandon Moss, 1B
Derek Norris, C
Brandon Inge, 3B
Cliff Pennington, SS
Instant AnalysisDerek Norris is getting another start at catcher over Kurt Suzuki. It looks like Norris is getting the larger portion of the starts in this new A's catcher timeshare. He has a hit in seven of nine games played and Bob Melvin was impressed with the game he called for Jarrod Parker Monday night.
Yoenis Cespedes remains in left field. The only way to get him comfortable out there is to keep getting him reps. He will have to get used to seeing how the ball comes off the bat from that vantage point. On Wednesday he broke in on a ball that eventually sailed over his head for a double. Top of the orderCoco Crisp has been on fire since taking over the leadoff spot in the lineup. The speedy veteran is hitting .289 with a .362 on-base percentage, and 12 runs while batting first. Crisp has played 22 games at the top of the order and the A's are 14-8 in those contests. Since June 13, Crisp is walking in 11.6 of his plate appearances, which is up from 6.8 prior to 613. Heart of the orderCespedes is proving to be more dangerous at home than on the road. That is impressive considering the Oakland Coliseum is a tough place to hit. In Oakland he has six homers, and goes deep every 14.7 at-bats. On the road he only has three home runs, averaging 33.7 at-bats per homer. At the Coliseum 23.1 percent of the fly balls he hits end up leaving the yard. Friday night will be Brandon Moss' 25th game with the A's. He has clubbed 10 home runs since joining the team. That is the second best start to an A's career since Dave Kingman hit 11 in his first 24 games in 1984.Bottom of the orderBrandon Inge is batting eighth for the A's. He has played 10 games while batting in the eighth slot. In those games he is hitting .185 with two doubles and three RBI. Most of his appearances this season have come in the fifth or sixth spot. Norris is crushing fastballs. Both of his home runs and eight of his 10 hits this season have come against fastballs. It may be a matter of time before pitchers start to attack him differently.

Could Franklin Barreto get a look in center field for A's?

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USATI

Could Franklin Barreto get a look in center field for A's?

Don’t count out top prospect Franklin Barreto as a possibility for the A’s in center field.

It’s long been speculated that the middle infielder might eventually get a look in center, and the idea has at least been discussed in team circles. It’s tied partially to whether the A’s exercise their $6 million club option on Jed Lowrie and bring him back as their regular second baseman in 2018.

Regardless, the battle to be Oakland’s everyday center fielder will be one of the A’s most intriguing storylines next spring. Grady Fuson, a special assistant to general manager David Forst who spends much of the season evaluating the team’s farm system, discussed several of the team’s center field options in the latest A’s Insider Podcast.

So much revolves around the health of 22-year-old Dustin Fowler, one of three prospects the A’s received from the Yankees for Sonny Gray. He’ll spend the winter continuing to rehab from a devastating knee injury suffered in his very first major league game in June while still with New York.

The A’s are hopeful he’ll be ready for spring training and believe he can be a solution in center.

“Fowler certainly is the guy we made this trade for, and I think everybody, top to bottom, in the system is counting on him taking that spot,” Fuson said. “But we all know he’s been hurt. How he comes back, who knows? Boog (Powell’s) been doing a very good job for us. And there’s other options.”

The 21-year-old Barreto, who has split time between second and short this season at Triple-A and with the big club, played some center in the Venezuelan Winter League in 2015. He’s always talked with enthusiasm about the idea.

The A’s experimented with another highly touted young infielder, Yairo Munoz, in center field in the minors this season.

“(We’ve) had discussions about taking Munoz out there, which we’ve done,” Fuson said. “We’ve had discussions about maybe Franklin Barreto, depending on what happens at second here at end of the year, over the winter, and early in camp.”

Lowrie has enjoyed a very strong season with Oakland, and A’s executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane has said the team is seriously considering picking up his option. Having Barreto be an option in center could be a way to keep him in the majors in 2018 even if Lowrie returns at second base.

Fuson stressed that the idea of Barreto in center hasn’t advanced past the early-discussion phase. No decisions have been made.

What’s interesting is that, in a short time, the A’s have gone from scarce few center field options to suddenly having several. Powell and Fowler may enter the spring as front runners, but Munoz, Jaycob Brugman, Chad Pinder, Jake Smolinski and, perhaps, Barreto may all have a shot too.

The A’s also used their first-round pick in June on high school center fielder Austin Beck, who represents another option down the road.

Bob Melvin provides update on Bruce Maxwell after 'pretty good shot' to face

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USATSI

Bob Melvin provides update on Bruce Maxwell after 'pretty good shot' to face

A's catcher Bruce Maxwell has a history with foul tips and concussion concerns, so there was cause for concern after he took a direct shot during Wednesday's game against the Tigers.

With one out in the ninth inning, Tigers shortstop fouled a ball square into Maxwell's facemask. The A's catcher immediately fell backwards. As manager Bob Melvin and the team trainer checked on him, he appeared dazed and rubbed his eyes. In an attempt to try to stay in the game, reliever Liam Hendriks tossed two warmup pitches. Maxwell missed the first one, but even after he caught the second one, it was clear he wasn't right and was removed from the game.

Afterwards, Melvin was asked about Maxwell's status.

"He went through all the protocol. It doesn't look like a concussion at this point. We'll probably know more in the next couple of days," Melvin told reporters in Detroit. "Took a pretty good shot. More sore on his face because of where the impact was, which was right in the middle of his face."

Josh Phegley replaced Maxwell for the final two outs of the game. Hendriks managed to close out the 3-2 win for the A's.