McCarthy headed back to DL, Griffin on the way

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McCarthy headed back to DL, Griffin on the way

OAKLAND -- Brandon McCarthy will not be making his scheduled start on Sunday against the Giants. Instead, he will be hitting the disabled list. Sunday morning, the the A's will announce that River Cats' right-handed pitcher A.J. Griffin will make his Major League debut in his place. He will be opposed by Matt Cain.The news is particularly frustrating for McCarthy, who will be making another trip to the DL after returning from a previous stint on June 2. He has battled through lingering shoulder soreness over his last seven starts, three of which have come on extra rest. He is 6-0 with a 1.96 ERA over that span."It sucks," McCarthy said. "The last two weeks have been about as mentally harrowing as I have had in my career. Dealing with pain every day is miserable. If I can get out on the mound I can be fine, but it's just not doing it." McCarthy has undergone multiple MRIs and the tests show no significant damage. Yet after each appearance, the pain in his right throwing shoulder lingers. "The doctor is not telling you that your arm looked like a gun went off inside of it," he said. "They are saying it is fine and it's healthy. It just doesn't feel right. It's just kind of miserable. You obsess over the pain. It's a big stressful game. It hasn't been a whole lot of fun."The 28-year-old righty mentioned possibly getting another opinion on his shoulder. He keeps being told he can pitch. He has taken short breaks of nine, 15, and 11 days off between starts this season. The longest break came when he went on the DL. At this point rest seems to be the only solution. "There's been so few answers, the frustration level just kind of goes off the charts," he said. "Nobody can look at me and say, 'This is why, let's address this.' That's how I like to handle things. You just kind of want to pull your hair out."McCarthy is in his seventh season, this will be his eighth career trip to the DL, his third in his two seasons with the As.Last year at this time, he experienced a similar problem in the shoulder. He missed the entire month of June as part of a six-week DL stint. He ended up coming back to finish the season making 16 starts after injury. "I can't keep doing this for the next three months. Let's get this done where I can make a big run of starts and be done with it." A.J. Griffin's last start came on June 19. Coincidentally, that is the last time McCarthy pitched -- so he is on turn. He is 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA in Sacramento. Griffin has 40 strikeouts and seven walks in 51 innings pitched. He is listed as six-foot-five, 215 pounds. Griffin, 24, isn't on the A's 40-man roster though, so another corresponding move will have to be made to clear a spot for him.

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

PHOENIX — Bruce Maxwell homered twice against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, and his reward was a demotion to the minors.

Awkward timing, for sure. But the news itself wasn’t much of a shock to the A’s catcher, who knew he was the odd man out in a three-man roster battle. The A’s like the left-right platoon behind the plate. Stephen Vogt, who like Maxwell hits left-handed, wasn’t going anywhere. Josh Phegley is back healthy after knee surgery and has the advantage of being a right-handed hitter.

“I mean, I could have come out here and hit 1.000 and I probably still would have been in the same situation,” Maxwell said. “I can’t really do much about it. I try not to worry about it. At the end of the day everybody wants to play in the big leagues, but if the opportunity is not there you can’t stress about it.”

Manager Bob Melvin gave Maxwell the news in the dugout after he exited Oakland’s 11-1 victory, and Melvin certainly couldn’t give Maxwell a justifiable reason for the demotion except that the roster math doesn’t add up.

“Great day to have to do that,” Melvin said sarcastically. “But, he’ll be here at some point. We saw his progression last year, he did a great job for us. There’s nothing he did to suggest he needed to be sent down. It’s just a numbers game for him right now.”

The A’s batted around in a five-run third, knocking Brewers starter Matt Garza from the game after he recorded just seven outs. They tacked on four more in the fourth, with Maxwell going deep to left-center for a two-run homer off Jhan Marinez. In the sixth, he hit a solo shot off Corey Knebel to right-center and also added a run-scoring single to complete his four-RBI day.

Melvin has spoken often of the improving power shown by the 26-year-old Maxwell, who hit .283 with a homer and 14 RBI in 33 games with Oakland last season in his first major league call-up.

“If you look at the power numbers over the years, he’s getting better and better,” Melvin said. “He’s got the chance to be a 20-home run guy in the big leagues.”

NOTEWORTHY: Jharel Cotton held Milwaukee to just a run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He bounced back from a wobbly start against Seattle in which he walked five. On Sunday, his toughest challenge was staying loose as the A’s offense put up two time-consuming rallies. Twice, Cotton had to play catch while his teammates paraded around the bases.

But it sure didn’t affect him, as he struck out seven and walked one in his second-to-last spring training start.

“This one, I was more on the attack, using my fastball more so I can set up my changeup and off-speed pitches,” Cotton said. “I know everybody raves about the changeup, but I need my fastball to be there so I can throw that pitch off the fastball.”

He had an entertaining ongoing battle with six-time All-Star Ryan Braun. He struck out Braun on a cutter in the first, gave up a homer to left in the fourth, then battled back from a 3-0 count to get Braun swinging through a fastball in the sixth.

“I got him twice, he got me once,” Cotton said. “I think I won that battle today.”

HEALTH UPDATE: Daniel Mengden, who has missed all of spring with a broken right foot, is scheduled to get his walking boot removed Monday. Mengden said he’ll stay in Arizona for anywhere from two to four weeks, taking part in extended spring training. The good news for the right-hander: He’s been able to play catch while wearing the boot, so that’s a bit of a head-start for him once he gets full mobility with his foot. There’s no timetable yet for his return.

ODDS AND ENDS: The A’s knocked out 16 hits and recorded double-digit runs for the fifth time this spring. They improved to 16-12. … Alejandro De Aza, fighting for an outfield roster spot, went 2-for-3 with an RBI to raise his average to .300. … With few regulars making the trip to Maryvale Baseball Park, second baseman Max Schrock came over from minor league camp and once again made an impact, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. … John Axford threw a scoreless inning of relief. Frankie Montas handled the final two innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts and a walk. The hard-throwing prospect is a candidate for the bullpen as a multi-inning guy.

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

The A's optioned catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A Nashville Sunday, the club announced

Maxwell, 26, went 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI in the A's 11-1 win over the Brewers Sunday. Both home runs were his lone of the spring. 

In 2016, Maxwell played in 26 games with the A's after his promotion from Triple-A. He hit .283 with one homer. 

The 2012 second-round draft pick is a career .266/.346/.370 hitter in the minors with 25 home runs. Maxwell is the A's No. 10 prospect by Baseball America. 

The A’s now have 37 players in big league camp.