Athletics

Melvin maintaining hope for Drew, Gomes

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Melvin maintaining hope for Drew, Gomes

Programming note: The Final Cut: 2012 Oakland A's, the story of Oaklands incredible 2012 season, debuts tonight, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California!

OAKLAND -- A's pitchers and catchers report spring training on Feb. 11, and if that were tomorrow, manager Bob Melvin wouldn't have a problem with it.

"I'm thrilled to death about the team we have here," Melvin said after conducting a press conference as 2012 AL Manager of the Year. "But we have a propensity to make some moves to make our team better."

Indeed, the A's front office still has close to 90 days to add new toys before the team reconvenes in Arizona.

Melvin spoke specifically about three players Wednesday, updating their standing with the team.

Stephen Drew:

The A's declined Stephen Drew's 10-million option for 2014, but it's still possible he returns to man shortstop for Oakland in 2013.

Owner of a 1.35-million buyout, Drew is a free agent with the ability to test the market.

"We hope he comes back," Melvin said. "At the end of the day it comes down to what he wants to do -- whether or not he wants a long-term deal or to be closer to his home."

The A's acquired Drew from the Diamondbacks in August for minor league shortstop Sean Jamieson. Drew hit .250 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 39 games with the A's.

Oakland has a hole to fill at shortstop after they traded away Cliff Pennington in acquiring Chris Young.

There are no free agent shortstops ranked higher than Drew, but Japan's Hiroyuki Nakajima, Alex Gonzalez and Jason Bartlett are all unemployed.

With significant outfield and pitching depth, it's also possible the A's trade for their next shortstop.

Jonny Gomes:

Jonny Gomes was not an every-day starter for the A's in 2012, but his impact was apparent in the clubhouse and on the field. His recognition with the 2012 Jim "Catfish" Hunter Award was evidence enough.

Melvin acknowledged the A's made Gomes an offer, but that the 10-year veteran elected to test the free agent market after the expiration of his one-year, 1 million deal.

"He probably has a bunch of people bidding on him right now," Melvin said.

It spurred the A's into a deal that landed them another All-Star center fielder in Chris Young.

NEWS: A's acquire Chris Young

Young joins Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick to comprise a deep and talented outfield. It seems to leave no place for Gomes, but the manager wasn't ready to concede his departure.

"You never know," Melvin said. "And I'd like to keep that hope alive because of what he meant to this team last year."

Bartolo Colon:

Bartolo Colon already inked his one-year, 3 million contract to return to the A's next season.

NEWS: Colon returning for 2013

And although he has five games remaining on his 50-game suspension and will turn 40 early next season, the decision was obvious to the A's for one reason.

"He's a strike-throwing machine," Melvin said of the veteran.

Another reason is Colon's flexibility. His contract, reportedly laden with 2 million in potential incentives, also contains language that leaves the bullpen door open.

"The focus is to bring him in as a starter," Melvin assured, "but we're keeping our options open."

Colon went 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts for the A's in 2012 and led the team in innings pitched at the time of his suspension.

Aside from Colon, the A's staff features only Brett Anderson with significant MLB experience. Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin and other options like Dan Straily and Travis Blackley were all rookies a year ago, so Colon's 15 years of MLB service are welcome -- in the rotation or 'pen.

Melvin was sure that Colon's PED-induced suspension would be forgottenamongA's fans.

"This is a true gentleman and a great guy," Melvin said. "He'll be embraced here again."

A's find two bright spots in tough shutout loss to Astros

A's find two bright spots in tough shutout loss to Astros

HOUSTON — Some losses go down tougher than others, and that’s true for Bob Melvin whether it’s April or whether it’s August and his team is playing out the string.

The body language and demeanor said it all for the A’s manager Saturday after a 3-0 loss to the Astros, in which Oakland didn’t advance a single runner past second base.

Houston right-hander Collin McHugh brought a 4.88 ERA into the game over five starts since returning from a shoulder injury. He wound up celebrating his first victory of 2017 after six stellar innings.

“He threw the ball good, (but) I expected us to score some runs tonight,” Melvin said.

The A’s were done in by five ground-ball double plays, including a game-ending 5-4-3 job from Ryon Healy, which was reversed on replay review after Healy initially was called safe.

“Those things are killers,” catcher Bruce Maxwell said. “It just didn’t roll our way today.”

So the A’s (53-70) were left to pick through the scraps of this one to find some silver linings, and there were a couple.

Kendall Graveman held Houston to two runs over six innings, and the damage off him came on a two-run single from Marwin Gonzalez that glanced off the glove of second baseman Jed Lowrie. It was the second strong outing in a row for Graveman, who’s now got four starts under his belt since returning from his second stint on the disabled list this season for shoulder issues.

Most encouraging from his standpoint was he didn’t really have his best stuff, yet still managed to limit an opponent that leads the majors in every significant offensive category, including runs, batting average and homers.

“I think it’s the first one where I’ve been back when I had to kind of pitch and grind through,” said Graveman (3-4). “I didn’t have my best stuff. It’s just one of those where you’ve got to get out there and compete.”

The highlight of the game for the A’s came when center fielder Boog Powell unleashed a strike to home plate that nailed Alex Bregman trying to score from second on Jose Altuve’s single in the fifth.

Maxwell barely had to move his mitt to apply the tag, and count the A’s catcher as the most surprised person in the ballpark that Powell even gave him a chance on the play.

“It caught me off guard,” Maxwell admitted. “I haven’t played with Powell in a long time. I didn’t expect there to be that big of a play at home. He was fairly deep in the outfield as well.”

Powell, a 24-year-old rookie who was acquired from Seattle for Yonder Alonso, said he’s worked on his throwing in the minors in recent seasons.

“I didn’t (have a good arm) back in the day,” Powell said. “I’m definitely improving my arm strength. I pride myself on getting the ball out as quick as I can.”

It’s the kind of play that sticks in the memory bank as Powell tries to make his mark in the wide open battle to be the A’s center fielder in 2018. His throw to ring up Bregman was at least one moment from Saturday night that gave Melvin reason to smile.

“He can play the outfield, no doubt about it,” Melvin said. “It was a big play at the time, and it should give you a little momentum to go back out there and do a little better offensively.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 3-0 loss in Houston

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USATSI

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 3-0 loss in Houston

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON — The A’s pitching staff endured a rough series against Kansas City to finish out the last homestand.

Go figure that Oakland arrived in Houston to start a six-game road trip, and it’s the offense that has been non-existant. The Astros blanked the A’s 3-0 on Saturday at Minute Maid Park, negating a strong effort from right-hander Kendall Graveman.

Through 18 innings of this series, the A’s have advanced exactly one runner as far as third base. That came Friday night on Matt Joyce’s eighth-inning homer, accounting for the only run scored by Oakland so far in Houston.

Getting runners on base wasn’t really the tough part Saturday. Grounding into five double plays was what did them in offensively. It was fitting that the game ended on a replay overturn that gave the Astros’ a 5-4-3 double play on Ryon Healy’s grounder to end it. Healy originally was ruled safe.

GRAVEMAN ROUNDING INTO FORM: In his fourth start back from a shoulder injury, Graveman built on his previous outing when he beat the Baltimore Orioles. He went six innings Saturday and gave up two runs. The only damage off him came with the bases loaded in the fourth. Marwin Gonzalez hit a sharp grounder to the left of second baseman Jed Lowrie. The ball glanced off his glove, allowing two runners to score. It was ruled a two-run single, but it appeared a makable play that should have resulted in at least one out for Graveman.

BREGMAN STRIKES AGAIN: Astros third baseman homered for the second time in two nights. His solo shot off Ryan Dull in the eighth added some breathing room for Houston.

FAMILIAR FACE: Former Athletic Tyler Clippard, who the Astros just recently acquired, finished out the ninth to close it out.

SHOWING OFF THE ARM: Houston had a chance to build on its two-run lead in the fifth, but A’s center fielder Boog Powell made an on-the-money throw to the plate to nail Bregman, who tried to score from second on Jose Altuve’s single. Powell got the ball to the plate on the fly, with catcher Bruce Maxwell simply having to apply the tag. The Astros challenged the call but it stood upon replay review.

SHOWING OFF THE ARM, PART II: Khris Davis’ name doesn’t often appear under this subhead, but the A’s left fielder nearly threw out Astros speedster George Springer as he legged out a double in the third. Actually, Davis should have gotten the assist as the throw beat him to the bag. But Springer was safe on a nifty slide to avoid Jed Lowrie’s tag. Davis fielded the liner off a ricochet from the left field wall, then made one of his strongest throws in an A’s uniform. It’s worth noting that since Davis wrote a story in The Players Tribune, detailing the mental battles he endures with his outfield throwing, his throws have actually appeared to be stronger.