Norris builds momentum with 'memorable moment'


Norris builds momentum with 'memorable moment'

OAKLAND -- Derek Norris has only thrown out five attempted base stealers this season in 33 tries. He'll have to hope the dramatic fashion in which the fifth one occurred will help turn around his season defensively. Clinging to a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning on Friday night, Norris threw out pinch runner Xavier Avery to end the game -- sort of in walk-off fashion. "You don't see too many games end like that," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "It was not only exciting for him it was exciting for all of us to end the game like that."The last time the A's caught a runner stealing to end a game was April 5, 2007 when Jason Kendall threw out Erick Aybar to give the A's a 4-3 win over the Angels. After Norris made the successful throw he let out an emotional scream and walked to first base looking like Dr. Bruce Banner just before turning into the Hulk.
"I don't think I've ever got an adrenaline rush like that before," Norris said. "The crowd was great and hopefully they keep coming back and it was something that I'll remember for a while."Norris' 15.2 caught stealing percentage leaves a lot of room for improvement. Melvin thinks his struggles behind the dish have a lot to do with irregular playing time this season."When you are not playing every day at the big league level it can be tough to keep your rhythm," Melvin said. "In Triple-A they stopped running on him he was throwing the ball so well. He has the ability to do it."Norris has issues gunning down runners but he hasn't had any trouble handling the pitching staff in Kurt Suzuki's absence. A's pitchers have a 2.97 ERA with Norris behind the plate. With a rookie catcher handling a predominantly rookie staff the A's have performed surprisingly well. Both Norris and catcher George Kottaras have filled in admirably in Suzuki's absence because they have a strong support structure in place. "Both of our guys understand what we expect and Curt Young has been great about putting together a game plan for them," Melvin said. "The pitchers too are starting to get a little bit more involved where there is give and take between the pitchers and catchers." "When you have a guy like Suzuki some of the pitchers just say 'OK, whatever he puts down, we'll throw.' It's actually helped them out some in that they're probably more aware of what their strengths and weaknesses are too," Melvin added.Norris may have lost a veteran leader when Suzuki was traded, but he still has a very accomplished instructor in Melvin who was a big league catcher for 10 years. "He's meant a lot to me, ever since Day 1 of Spring Training and being traded he's treated me well," Norris said. "He's been a great influence, positive, and you really can't ask for anything more from him."With a helping hand from the skipper maybe Norris can look less like Dr. Banner and more like the incredible green beast that he morphs into.

A's call up Cotton, shake up rotation for Yankees series

A's call up Cotton, shake up rotation for Yankees series

NEW YORK -- The A's announced a shakeup in their starting rotation, with Sean Manaea moving up a day to pitch Friday's series opener against the Yankees in place of Kendall Graveman.

In addition, Jharel Cotton will be called up to start Saturday afternoon. 

Graveman is experiencing more soreness in his throwing shoulder, manager Bob Melvin said before Friday's game. The right-hander is scheduled to see a doctor in the Bay Area, and both he and Jesse Hahn (strained triceps) are likely to hit the disabled list. Neither pitcher is with the team in New York.

Graveman, the A's Opening Night starter, seemed fine coming out of his last start, but Melvin said he experienced discomfort in his shoulder following a recent bullpen session. Graveman missed 10 games on the DL earlier this season with a shoulder strain, and given that a problem has surfaced for a second time, Melvin said: "This DL (stint) is gonna take longer, if indeed he goes on the DL."

There was a mild bit of good news in that Hahn underwent an MRI for his triceps issue that showed no structural damage.

Cotton arrived at Yankee Stadium about 4:15 p.m. local time, saying one of his focuses while down with Triple-A Nashville was pitching inside more effectively. 

"It could help my changeup, open up the outside corner," Cotton said. 

Melvin said the team would likely wait a day or two before announcing Hahn's replacement in the rotation.

A's lineup: Vogt back in to catch Manaea against Yankees

A's lineup: Vogt back in to catch Manaea against Yankees

Sean Manaea has been bumped up to start Friday night at Yankees Stadium and his battery mate Stephen Vogt is back in the squat.

Oakland A's (21-25)

1. Rajai Davis (R) CF
2. Matt Joyce (L) RF
3. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
4. Khris Davis (R) LF
5. Ryon Healy (R) 1B
6. Trevor Plouffe (R) 3B
7. Stephen Vogt (L) C
8. Mark Canha (R) DH
9. Adam Rosales (R) SS
Sean Manaea -- LHP

New York Yankees (27-17)

1. Brett Gardner (L) LF
2. Aaron Hicks (S) CF
3. Matt Holliday (R) DH
4. Starlin Castro (R) 2B
5. Aaron Judge (R) RF
6. Didi Gregorius (L) SS
7. Chase Headley (S) 3B
8. Chris Carter (R) 1B
9. Austin Romine (R) C
Masahiro Tanaka -- RHP