OAKLAND -- As the days flip on the calendar it is starting to look less and less likely that Jordan Norberto will return to the Oakland Athletics bullpen before season's end. Norberto was placed on the disabled list with left shoulder tendonitis on Aug. 21 and has been out since Aug. 17. It is his second DL stint this season with issues in his throwing shoulder.Norberto, 25, hopes to begin playing catch soon. The team can't make any estimates on a potential return date until he picks up a ball and throws. "My arm is making progress and when I am stretching now I am not feeling pain like I used to feel before," Norberto said. "We are going to start throwing this week, I feel a lot better.""We'll take it day to day with him once he starts throwing. I am not sure how long it would take to get him in game shape," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We do feel like we have good depth in our bullpen, but man, he was a major contributor." Norberto says this injury is similar to the previous one. He missed 18 games with a left shoulder strain from May 31 to June 20. Yet, he has already missed 26 games during his latest DL stint. That may have to do with the cautious approach the A's are taking with him. "Now we have to be more careful because I don't want to be hurt again," Norberto said. "They want me to take care of it 100 percent before I come back." Norberto seemed to be fully recovered when he was activated from the DL on June 21; in 18 appearances he posted a 1.69 ERA. He emerged as a key component to the A's bullpen this season. In 39 games he had a 2.77 ERA, struck out 46 batters and walked 22 in 52 innings. Of those 39 appearances, 19 went for more than an inning. "If he doesn't pitch again he's already had a spectacular year for us," Melvin said. "He got righties out, he got lefties out, he gave us length, he pitched late in games, he could pick up a starter if he was struggling, he was as versatile as we have." Even without Norberto the A's bullpen has been one of the strengths of the team. A's relief pitchers rank first in the American League and second in the major leagues with a 2.80 ERA. Forced to sit back and watch, Norberto likes what he sees in his teammates' performances. "They've been doing a really good job in the bullpen," Norberto said. "They pick each other up like Jerry Blevins the other night coming in for Grant Balfour and getting a save, Ryan Cook made an adjustment and he's been very consistent. Sean Doolittle too, Pat Neshek, all those guys, they pitch really well."
After five seasons in Oakland, Stephen Vogt begins a new chapter of his career in Milwaukee.
The 32-year-old was designated for assignment by the last-place A's on Thursday and claimed by the first-place Brewers on Sunday.
On Monday, the two-time All-Star catcher discussed his new opportunity with a contender on MLB Network Radio.
"Obviously I was ecstatic to hear I was headed to Milwaukee. We all watch baseball and they are such a fun team to watch right now. And your buddy Eric Sogard is there, so I've got some familiarity. It's an opportunity to win and I think anybody, when you get to the stage I'm in in my career, where I'm 32, I want to win. I'm at the point where that's kind of the goal in the big leagues where all you care about is winning and that's where I'm at. So, to get the news that I'm headed to a first-place team, I couldn't be more excited," Vogt said.
After making the AL All-Star team the last two seasons, Vogt struggled to the tune of a .217 batting average with four home runs and 20 RBI in 54 games.
But with a new team in a new league comes a fresh slate.
"You get that rejuvenation feeling, you get that feeling that this is the change you needed especially going to a winning team where when you're winning, everyone plays better, when you're winning, everyones happier. No matter where you are in life, you want to have that feeling that somebody wants you. So to have Milwaukee come in and say 'We wanted you,' Yeah, it recharged the batteries. I'm ready to go," Vogt said.
The A’s sprung to life offensively in the late innings Sunday and polished off their first road sweep of 2017.
They scored all five of their runs over the final three innings to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3, continuing an odd stretch of streakiness. The A’s swept the New York Yankees in four at the Coliseum, then turned around and dropped four in a row to the Houston Astros before arriving in Chicago and taking all three from the Sox. It’s their first sweep on the road since they won four in Kansas City from Sept. 12-15 of last season.
The weekend’s events provided a morale boost for a team that began the series an American League-worst 9-25 away from home. The sweep also featured numerous contributions from a pack of recently promoted young players fresh from the minors.
The A’s had no answer for left-hander Derek Holland through six-plus innings, mustering just four hits off the veteran. But trailing 2-0, they got on the board with Jed Lowrie’s pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh. The next inning, Khris Davis singled home the tying run and Yonder Alonso followed with a go-ahead single down the left-field line to put the A’s up 3-2.
They tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth on back-to-back homers from Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce.
Sonny rebounds: Sonny Gray (3-3) avoided the early trouble that plagued his last start, working seven innings and being rewarded with a victory thanks to the A’s eighth-inning rally. He struck out seven and walked just one. That was a key as Gray had issued seven free passes combined in his previous two starts. Adam Engel hit a 2-1 fastball for a homer in the third, then Jose Abreu scored on a passed ball in the fourth to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. But Gray held the Sox to just four hits over his seven innings.
Sign of things to come? Franklin Barreto got a look as the No. 2 hitter in the order Sunday, a spot that some scouts feel he’ll be well suited for as his career unfolds. He singled to the opposite field in his first at-bat, then struck out looking in his next two trips to the plate. In the eighth, his broken-bat single to left jumpstarted Oakland’s two-run go-ahead rally. Barreto is 4-for-10 in his first two games with the big club.
Joyce provides a lift off the bench: Joyce entered as a pinch runner in the seventh and connected for his 10th homer, right after Rosales had gone deep himself. Joyce became the fourth Athletic to crack double figures in homers, and the A’s improved to 31-26 when they hit at least one home run (they’re 3-16 when they don’t).
Doo does it again: Lefty reliever Sean Doolittle continued to deal since coming off the disabled list. He threw a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts and has allowed just one hit over five innings in six appearances since his return.
An unwanted milestone: The Sox scored their second run on a passed ball by Josh Phegley, which accounted for Oakland’s 50th unearned run, most in the majors. They had just 43 unearned runs all of last season.