Athletics

Nostalgic weekend awaits Reddick in his return against A's

Nostalgic weekend awaits Reddick in his return against A's

KANSAS CITY — The A’s come right off the road and begin a 10-game homestand Friday night, and there will be some emotion tied to the storyline this weekend.

Josh Reddick, now playing right field for the Houston Astros, makes his return to the Coliseum, the ballpark he called home for 4 1/2 seasons and where he blossomed into a starting major league outfielder.

He’s expecting the series to tug at his heartstrings.

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Reddick recalled the final home game he played at the Coliseum last season in late July, shortly before he and Rich Hill were dealt at the Aug. 1 trade deadline to the Dodgers for pitchers Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas and Grant Holmes.

Reddick said he soaked in every last moment he could before leaving the field after that last home game against Tampa Bay.

“I sat in the dugout for probably a good 15 minutes after the game was over, the last one in there,” Reddick told the newspaper. “Kind of emotional. You cry because you've played in some emotional games there. I mean, look at what we did in '12 and '13 and even ’14.”

Reddick hit 32 homers and was a core member of the 2012 A’s team that made a mad rush to a division title in the season’s final week. Injuries ate into his next two seasons, but he was still a key man on the division-winning club of 2013 and the team that earned a Wild Card berth in 2014.

Looking beyond the stats, Reddick built a strong bond with A’s fans, particularly the die-hards in the right field bleachers who set up shop right behind him while he played defense.

“It’ll be a little different,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said before Thursday’s 3-1 loss at Kansas City. “I’ve never seen him, other than a short time in Boston, in a different uniform than ours.”

With Reddick poised to become a free agent for the first time after the 2016 season, it became apparent as the A’s fell out of contention by midseason that he likely would get traded. He hit .258 over 47 games with the Dodgers, then hit .364 in an NL Championship Series loss to the Cubs, before heading into the offseason and landing a four-year, $52 million contract with the Astros. He’s hitting .333 (9-for-27) with no homers and two RBI so far, serving as Houston’s primary right fielder but drawing one start in left.

In the Houston Chronicle story, Reddick recalled how after signing his deal with Houston, he talked to Melvin and told him that he wanted Stephen Vogt to catch his first game against the A’s so he could give Vogt a hug at home plate. As it turns out, Josh Phegley will get the start at catcher Friday against Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel, but surely Reddick will spread the love around before the game as he catches up with old friends.

But the A’s will quickly shift to the business of a 10-game homestand featuring all AL West opponents — three games against Houston, three against Texas and four against Seattle. Oakland returns home with a 5-5 record, having gone 3-3 on its first road trip to Texas and Kansas City.

One area the A’s really need to tighten up right now is their defense. They’ve committed a league-high 11 errors — five by their pitchers. Starter Jesse Hahn dropped an easy flip while covering first base Thursday night and Mark Canha dropped a catchable liner in right field.

“That kind of skews the hard work we’re doing with our guys,” Melvin said. “That’s a play we should make (in right). I can’t explain the ones on the pitching end right now. In spring training, that’s all we do is work on (pitchers’ fielding) stuff.”

Ryon Healy downplayed a moment in Thursday’s game where he had words with Royals catcher Salvador Perez after an inside pitch from Jason Vargas.

“The way the pitch took me, I kind of looked back to him like, ‘Hey, that was inside,’” Healy said afterward. “There was nothing else that I said. Salvy kind of jumped on me and it escalated form there.”

As quickly as things heated up, the situation was defused.

“I told Salvy (later in the game), ‘Hey, we’re good man,’” Healy said.

A's adjust rotation in order to give one struggling starter extra rest

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AP

A's adjust rotation in order to give one struggling starter extra rest

The A’s announced a shuffling in their upcoming starting rotation, with Daniel Gossett being called up from Triple-A to start Wednesday at Baltimore and Sean Manaea being pushed back to get some extra rest.

Following Thursday’s day off, Kendall Graveman will now take the ball in Friday’s series opener against Texas at the Coliseum, with Manaea going Saturday. That gives Manaea three extra days of rest from his originally scheduled turn Wednesday. The lefty has seen his fastball velocity diminish in recent starts, even though he had better results Friday at Houston, when he went six innings and gave up three runs.

Gossett was sent down to Nashville on Aug. 3 because the A’s had an upcoming day off in the schedule and they wanted him to keep pitching on turn in the minors. He’s coming off back-to-back strong starts in the minors, striking out 16 with just four earned runs over 12 innings.

Inserting Gossett into the rotation will temporarily give the A’s six starters and also provide a little extra rest for Paul Blackburn, who left Tuesday’s start against Baltimore in the fifth inning after he was struck on the right wrist/hand area by a line drive. X-rays afterward showed no fracture, and Blackburn appeared visibly relieved by that as he addressed reporters in Baltimore after the A’s 6-4 win.

“It’s definitely sore, but I got X-rays and they were negative, so that’s good,” Blackburn said. “But it’s definitely sore. I’m just glad it’s not broken. When I was out there, I couldn’t move my hand. I couldn’t squeeze.”

He said he was hopeful of being able to make his next start but did not know the chances of that.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 6-4 win over the Orioles

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AP

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 6-4 win over the Orioles

BOX SCORE

The A’s showed they can make themselves at home in one of the majors’ most homer-happy ballparks.

A day after Baltimore homered four times, Oakland did the same at Camden Yards to power to a 6-4 victory over the Orioles. Ryon Healy went deep twice and continued his hot streak of late, and Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis also homered. The win ended the day on a good note for the A’s, but they hope they don’t get bad news on starting pitcher Paul Blackburn.

He left the game in the fifth after getting hit on the right wrist by a liner. After the game, manager Bob Melvin said Blackburn has a bruised hand/wrist.

Healy has a 10-game hitting streak, and he’s hitting .375 over his past 14 contests. He entered the night having homered just twice over his last 41 games.

The A’s led 5-2 in the eighth before Baltimore rallied for two runs, helped by a missed check-swing appeal call, on which first base ump Angel Hernandez didn’t ring up Tim Beckham on what appeared to be a sure third strike on replays. That extended the inning and made for a tense ninth inning, but the A’s improved to 2-3 on this six-game road trip that concludes Wednesday afternoon.

EARLY EXIT: Blackburn, after getting knocked around a bit in his previous two starts, was locked in Tuesday and impressed through four scoreless innings. Then Trey Mancini led off the bottom of the fifth by lining a comebacker that appeared to hit Blackburn flush near his right wrist. He walked around the mound in obvious pain as A’s head trainer Nick Paparesta came out to check on him. Blackburn was removed from the game.

EXTENDED DUTY AGAIN: When the Orioles loaded the bases in the eighth with two outs, closer Blake Treinen was summoned from the bullpen in the eighth for the second time in three games. He ended the eighth and stranded three by retiring Adam Jones on a groundout. The bottom of the ninth began with a throwing error from shortstop Chad Pinder, but Treinen closed out the game with help from a 5-4-3 double play and a strikeout of Chris Davis.

UNDERRATED PLAY OF THE GAME: Treinen got the ground ball he needed with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth. But it came down to Matt Olson making a great scoop at first base when Pinder short-hopped his throw across the diamond.

ENCORE FROM JED: Jed Lowrie homered for the second day in a row, and the A’s went deep four times total. Along with Healy’s two blasts, Khris Davis connected for his 34th of the season in the top of the ninth to make it a 6-4 game and provide some breathing room.

CONTINUING TO IMPRESS: It was an eventful day for Boog Powell even before he took the field. He enjoyed some barbecue with former Orioles slugger Boog Powell, the man who inspired his own nickname. Then those two held a Face Time chat with a third “Boog” Powell, — a youngster from Tennessee who played in the Little League World Series.

Then Powell, hitting leadoff for the second time in three games, singled in his first two at-bats and scored a run. He’s continued to find ways to provide the A’s a spark since being called up from Triple-A Nashville.