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.

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.