A's notes: Coliseum staged for playoff atmosphere, etc.


A's notes: Coliseum staged for playoff atmosphere, etc.

PROGRAMMING ALERT: Coverage of A's-Mariners begins at 6:30, followed by game action at 7:05, exclusively on Comcast SportsNet California!

OAKLAND -- The A's are preparing for their biggest game of the season, but you wouldn't know it in the team clubhouse. Brandon Inge is in the building, drawing smiles from one and all. Brandon Moss is boasting about a new bat he's trying. The team is loose.After 17 of their last 20 games on the road, the A's are back in Oakland for the remainder of the regular season."It feels like we've been gone for a month," manager Bob Melvin said.The A's won 12 of those 20 games, but despite success few thought they'd enjoy this year, the A's head-down approach to grinding out every day will remain."We've done very well," Melvin said. "We got ourselves back here with six games left in a good position. We feel good about it. We got some confidence coming out of Texas, and we'll take it day-by-day."Fresh from meaningful ball in front of 40,000-plus in Texas, the A's are excited to see their fans' support in the Coliseum."I hope they fill it up," relief pitcher Sean Doolittle said."Anytime you're at home and you have that (fan support) on your side, it's definitely an advantage," Seth Smith added. "It's always good to feel the fans supporting us."But at the end of the day, it's the quality of ball put on the field that will define the A's future. And they plan to scratch, claw, battle and compete to the bitter end."Until you have an asterisk," Melvin clarified.An asterisk, of course, would indicate the A's first playoff berth since 2006, and they're a magic number of five wins and AngelsRays losses away from it.Brett Anderson threw the baseball on Thursday as he continues to recover from a right oblique strain."All signs point to him being back," Melvin said. "We'll see when that is."The A's could use him next Tuesday, when the struggling Travis Blackley is scheduled to pitch again, but is a regular season return possible?"No," Melvin said. "I would say that's a bit of a stretch."It's old news that Jordan Norberto won't return for the regular season, but Melvin indicated that -- if the team makes the postseason -- there's a chance he would be ready.
Jonny Gomes is this year's Dave Stewart Community Service Award winner.As a Bay Area native who followed Stewart and the A's through the 80s and 90s, the cool factor is not lost on Gomes."Every day I come through those double doors, it's awesome," said Gomes.Gomes was an avid supporter of his hometown little league team, Petaluma National, whose journey to the Little League World Series left them as the United States runner-up. In addition, Gomes supported TroopsDirect, the Wounded Warrior Project, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Alternative Family Services and David Benzer Torture Cancer Foundation."It should be in the job description or the title of being a pro athlete," Gomes said of giving back.Stewart will present the award to Gomes prior to Saturday's game between the A's and Mariners at 12:53 p.m., approximately.Despite recent struggles, the A's are planning to use Travis Blackley in his upcoming scheduled start next Tuesday.Blackley has lasted just three innings over his last two starts combined, allowing seven earned runs in A's losses to the Yankees and Rangers."Just because he's had a couple tough outings, doesn't mean that we're not still confident in him," manager Bob Melvin said.Melvin reserved the right to make a change, but as it stands Friday, Blackley is the man who will oppose Matt Harrison in the penultimate game of the season.

A's lineup: Alonso returns for opener against Marlins

A's lineup: Alonso returns for opener against Marlins

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Marlins-A's coverage begins at 6pm with Pregame Live on NBC Sports California and streaming right here.

After missing four games, Yonder Alonso is back in the lineup as the A's begin a series against the Marlins Tuesday night.

Miami Marlins:
1. Dee Gordon (L) 2B
2. Giancarlo Stanton (R) RF
3. Christian Yelich (L) CF
4. Marcell Ozuna (R) DH
5. Justin Bour (L) 1B
6. J.T. Realmuto (R) C
7. Derek Dietrich (L) 3B
8. J.T. Riddle (L) SS
9. Ichiro Suzuki (L) LF
Jose Urena -- RHP

Oakland A's:
1. Rajai Davis (R) CF
2. Mark Canha (R) RF
3. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
4. Khris Davis (R) LF
5. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
6. Ryon Healy (R) DH
7. Stephen Vogt (L) C
8. Trevor Plouffe (R) 3B
9. Adam Rosales (R) SS
Jesse Hahn -- RHP


Pinder's potential 'coming to fruition' in chance with A's

Pinder's potential 'coming to fruition' in chance with A's

OAKLAND — With so much attention focused on who might be the next wave of A’s infielders coming up from the minors, Chad Pinder is making quite a statement in the present.

Pinder enjoyed another big day at the plate Sunday with a two-run homer and a double in the A’s 12-3 loss to Boston. That came on the heels of Saturday’s 460-foot home run that made him just the fifth player to reach the second deck just above the Coliseum’s first level of luxury suites.

For fans around the country who might have seen that mammoth blast on highlight shows, it likely was their first introduction to the 25-year-old Virginia native. However, those within the organization witnessed Pinder’s steady rise through the farm system since he was drafted as a sandwich pick between the second and third rounds of the 2013 draft out of Virginia Tech.

“I don’t think it’s a shock what he’s doing,” said A’s designated hitter Ryon Healy, who was part of that same draft class. “I think he’s always been that caliber of player. He’s always had that potential and it’s coming to fruition right now and it’s really fun to watch.”

Pinder, who made his big league debut in September but began this season with Triple-A Nashville, is hitting .286 over 21 games with Oakland. He’s homered in four of his past eight, and he provided a boost over the weekend as the A’s took three of four from the Red Sox.

The right-handed hitting Pinder was in the lineup all four games — with the Red Sox starting lefties on the mound for the final three contests, the A’s stacked their lineup with righties, giving Pinder a stretch of consistent playing time.

He’s provided enough of a spark that he warrants consideration to remain in the lineup even though the A’s are scheduled to face right-handers during their two-game series with the Miami Marlins that begins Tuesday at the Coliseum.

Granted, it’s not the biggest sample size either way, but Pinder is actually hitting better against righties (.348, 8-for-23) than he is against lefties (.231, 6-for-26). Four of his five home runs also have come against right-handers.

Asked whether Pinder could draw more starts against right-handers, A’s manager Bob Melvin replied: “Potentially, yeah. You want to try to stay consistent with the lineups you have, but if you have a hot hand, you look for ways to get him in there.”

Working in Pinder’s advantage is the versatility he’s shown since being recalled from Nashville on April 16. The A’s always knew Pinder could handle second, shortstop or third as needed, but he’s also shown to be a capable option in right field with a strong arm for the outfield.

Pinder was the Texas League (Double-A) Player of the Year in 2015 and ranked No. 7 on Baseball America’s preseason list of A’s prospects. He’s making the most of his time in the majors.

On the minds of many Oakland fans is when a couple more infield prospects who are impressing at Triple-A — middle infielder Franklin Barreto and third baseman Matt Chapman — might get their first crack in the bigs.

Barreto, ranked as the No. 25 overall prospect in the majors in Baseball America’s most recent ratings, is hitting .311 with six homers and is tied with Matt Olson for Nashville’s RBI lead at 27. Chapman, ranked the 95th overall prospect, missed two weeks earlier this season with a wrist injury but has shown signs of heating up offensively. He’s hitting just .237 but has eight homers and 15 RBI.

Two other Nashville players, who have both seen time with the A’s, are putting up noteworthy numbers: Olson, a first baseman/outfielder, is hitting .276 with 10 homers and 27 RBI, and corner infielder/outfielder Renato Nunez is tied for the Pacific Coast League lead with 12 homers to go with a .245 average and 25 RBI.

The A’s are working with Barreto and Chapman to hone their approach at the plate and control the strike zone. General manager David Forst maintains the A’s will be patient with both, noting that Pinder benefited last year from a full season at Triple-A before his promotion.

“The calendar needs to turn over,” Forst said. “They need at-bats. Matt missed a couple weeks with the injury, but they just need more days and more at-bats. We don’t have an ‘X’ on the calendar anywhere where this is the day. We’ll know when it’s time.”