Neshek's loss reverberates through A's

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Neshek's loss reverberates through A's

The Oakland Athletics have never been truly happier, whether they were the young and very impressionable ones who just emerged to begin their careers, or the veterans who have known the force of the games backhand. They had made history, and their euphoria would last forever.

Then Pat Neshek, one of their own, tweeted the ghastly news that the boy, Gehrig, he and his wife Stephanee had brought into the world only the night before had died suddenly and without explanation. And suddenly even historic achievements became insignificant, almost as if they had never happened at all.

REWIND: A's Neshek loses newborn baby boy

Neshek had flown back to Florida be with Stephanee, and had tweeted the good news Wednesday morning, the day before the As biggest day in 23 years. Life was good, life was exciting, and after the As crushed the Texas Rangers, 12-5, life was as good as it could ever be.

And then it stopped.

There is no better way to explain it, not until the Neshek feel up to talking about it. An infants death is universally horrible, but for anyone who hasnt experienced it to try to explain it is the zenith of presumption and arrogance. It is life at its most cruel and capricious.

And the As, stuck with the same feelings of shock and horror because, though Neshek is the second oldest player on the roster at age 32 and only came to the As at midseason, he is one of them based on shared space and experiences. Gehrig was the couples first child, and many of the younger married As are in roughly the same place in their family time line.

In sum, this was a collective punch in the stomach -- one that devastated the Nesheks, and one that all his teammates and coaches and manager and front office people felt.

And it stopped the party cold. One of theirs was in unimaginable pain, a pain that the wives and girlfriends felt just as strongly as the men. The As as an extended family took the secondary blow, and now the effervescence of the day cannot be regained. It is, in the most horrible way, time for them to get back to work.

The As have made no announcements about what they plan to do about Nesheks spot, nor do they have to. They will leave it to the family to decide if and when he should return, be it the division series against Detroit, or later, if there is a later. This isnt the sporting world of 30 years ago, where family does not intrude. The teams needs come second, unless the player chooses to put them first.

Neshek has pitched in postseasons before, in 2006 for Minnesota against the As, but his climb back to the majors has been derailed by injuries and releases. This was going to be his dream season, too. Now, it is his annus horribilis, in which he can never think of his first year in Oakland without thinking of his son.

And for the moment, neither can his mates. They can deal with lots of hard turns in life, because baseball is a daily experience where life often intrudes. But an infants death hits home, and Gehrigs passing, coming when it did, hits them all.

The As fly to Detroit today, and work out tomorrow before Saturdays first game of the division series against the Tigers. They will field all the questions about the magnificence of Wednesday, and of the past three months, and they will give stock answers that will satisfy everyone a little bit.

But the larger truth is this: They arent as euphoric as they were, and they wont be again. The day they beat the odds and became Americas new instant darlings is also the day that one of theirs lost their day-old child. His empty locker will bear testament to it every day, a reminder that every moment is just that -- a moment. The best and worst times collide every now and then, but time never stops. Pat and Stephanee Neshek just learned that the hardest way imaginable, and the emanations struck their friends across the country with a force that will linger through the October of their dreams.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Manaea felt 'little sharp pain', but status of shoulder not immediately known

Manaea felt 'little sharp pain', but status of shoulder not immediately known

ANAHEIM — Sean Manaea is hopeful his left shoulder injury isn’t serious, but the A’s likely won’t have a full read on the starter’s condition for a couple days.

As of Wednesday night, no MRI was scheduled after Manaea left after just two innings of an eventual 8-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels with tightness in his shoulder.

“I felt it a little bit in the bullpen,” Manaea said. “I thought it was just one of those days where it took me longer to warm up, and that just wasn’t the case. It’s just really unfortunate.”

Just as the A’s are about to welcome Kendall Graveman back to the active roster Thursday, when he starts the series finale at Angel Stadium, and just as it appears Sonny Gray might be ready to come off the disabled list following one more rehab start, the A’s are hoping they don’t see Manaea subtracted from their rotation for any period of time.

Manager Bob Melvin said it was the top of Manaea’s shoulder that was bothering him.

“The velo was down, and it didn’t make sense to have him keep pitching,” Melvin said. “But we won’t know anything probably for a day or two, how he feels.”

Once he started throwing in the game, Manaea said he felt “kind of a little sharp pain. I mean, it’s nothing serious. I’ve dealt with it before and it only took me a few days to get back on the mound. To me, I’m not really worried about it.”

The pitcher added that he experienced a similar situation with his shoulder while a minor leaguer in Kansas City’s organization, toward the end of spring training, and he missed minimal time.

Things didn’t get better for the A’s (10-11) after Manaea exited, as they struck out 13 times and played sloppy defensively in dropping their third in a row. Catcher Stephen Vogt couldn’t handle Ryan Dull’s glove flip to the plate on a seventh-inning squeeze play, ending a streak of six errorless games for Oakland, but Melvin can live with occasional physical misplays. More problematic were occasions when right fielder Matt Joyce and center fielder Jaff Decker both seemed caught by surprise to see Angels runners take off for an extra base. Whether it was a lack of communication from infielders or the outfielders themselves needing to be more aware, the A’s can’t afford those kinds of mistakes.

“As a group, we can’t let that happen,” Melvin said. “We talk about it in advance meetings the way these guys run the bases. It’s not something we can do and expect to beat this team.”

Added Vogt: “We were on our heels quite a bit. This was obviously not the prettiest baseball game we’ve played.”

Instant Replay: Manaea hurt in A's 8-5 loss to Angels

Instant Replay: Manaea hurt in A's 8-5 loss to Angels

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM – The A’s endured one of those nights Wednesday when the scoreboard couldn’t convey the extent of their blues.

The tone of an 8-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels was set early, when starting pitcher Sean Manaea left after two innings with what was announced as tightness in his throwing shoulder.

From there, things gradually unraveled as the A’s lost their third in a row and took on what looks to be another injury to a key player. The seriousness of Manaea’s injury wasn’t immediately known, but his early exit added to the recent run of medical misfortune, as center fielder Rajai Davis, shortstop Marcus Semien and starter Kendall Graveman have all hit the disabled list over the past 12 days.

Graveman will be activated Thursday and start against the Angels, but Manaea’s condition will loom large as the 25-year-old lefty is considered a foundation piece for the A’s, now and for the future.

The A’s trailed 4-3 in the seventh when the Angels pulled away with four runs off Ryan Dull. Matt Joyce’s two-run homer in the eighth pulled them closer but they lost for the second night in a row at Angel Stadium and will have to win Thursday night to avoid a sweep. Wednesday’s loss dropped them back below .500 at 10-11.

Starting pitching report:
It was obvious early that something was bothering Manaea. His fastball, which usually sits in the low 90’s and gets into the mid-90’s, was hovering in the 88-89 range. The A’s led 2-0 before the Angels struck for three runs in the second. Danny Espinosa and Martin Maldonado each delivered RBI doubles that landed just past the diving reach of right fielder Matt Joyce and center fielder Jaff Decker, respectively. Another run scored on Cameron Maybin’s single.

Bullpen report:
Frankie Montas gave up a run over 2 1/3 innings after being called into early duty when Manaea got hurt. Dull, trying to keep it a 4-3 game, did not have his command in the seventh. He threw a wild pitch, hit Danny Espinosa with a 1-2 pitch and then allowed Maybin’s two-run single that keyed Los Angeles’ four-run seventh.

At the plate:
It was a big night for Yonder Alonso, who had a two-run single in the first and then homered in the sixth to pull Oakland within 4-3. Alonso already has four homers, putting more than halfway to his 2016 total of seven in the season’s first month. The A’s struck out 13 times, giving them 24 strikeouts over the first two games of this series.

In the field:
It took until the seventh inning for the A’s to be charged with an error that snapped their streak of six consecutive errorless games. Stephen Vogt couldn’t hold on to Dull’s glove flip on Martin Maldonado’s squeeze bunt. But even before then, this wasn’t a sharp defensive effort. Joyce got caught off guard in the fourth when Maybin tagged up and made it to second on a fly to right. Joyce’s gesturing afterward seemed to suggest nobody was letting him now the runner was tagging. An inning later, Decker seemed stunned as the lumbering Albert Pujols went first to third on Andrelton Simmons’ single.

Attendance:
The announced crowd was 30,248.

Up next:
Kendall Graveman (2-0, 2.00) is set to come off the D.L. on Thursday and make his first start since April 14, when he was lost to a strained right shoulder. He’ll be opposed by Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 4.76), who took the Opening Night loss against the A’s at the Coliseum when he allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings. First pitch is 7:05 p.m.