OAKLAND – The A’s welcomed leadoff man Coco Crisp back to the lineup Monday, a timely addition after a series in which their high-scoring offense came back down to earth.
The speedy switch hitter was penciled in at center field for the opener of a three-game series against the Houston Astros. Crisp had missed the previous two games with a strained left groin suffered Friday night against Detroit, but indications are he’s made a speedy recovery.
“He actually felt better (Sunday),” A’s manager Bob Melvin said before the game. “When I left yesterday, I talked to (head trainer) Nick (Paparesta), and he said he was ready to go. Hopefully that’s the case.”
Crisp enters the night ranked second in the American League with 14 runs, tied for second in extra base hits (9), tied for third in stolen bases (4) and total bases (33), and tied for fourth in home runs (4) and multiple-hit games (6).
He’s the catalyst for a team that scored runs in bunches during a nine-game winning streak, but was held to eight runs total in dropping two of three games to the Tigers over the weekend.
One player missing from Monday’s lineup is right fielder Josh Reddick, who went 1 for 13 with seven strikeouts in the Detroit series and is batting .108 overall. Chris Young is playing right field and batting third. With the Astros throwing left-hander Erik Bedard, Melvin said it was a good time to rest the left-handed hitting Reddick, who missed three games last week with a sprained right wrist.
The manager acknowledged Reddick’s recent struggles.
“I think there’s always a temptation when you come back from an injury to try to do too much, and he’s a guy that wants to be there for his team,” Melvin said. “Maybe he’s swinging out of the zone a little bit to do a little too much, which isn’t uncommon. I think that’ s probably the way for a lot of guys when they’re not swinging the bat well.”
Catcher Derek Norris, on a 9 for 18 streak, gets a rare start in the No. 2 slot.
“Jonny Gomes, I did that some with him last year -- hit him in the ‘2’ hole, a guy that hits lefties well,” Melvin said. “Based on some of the injuries we have here, we’ll flip the lineup around a little bit and play a hotter hand. (Norris) is swinging the bat pretty good right now.”
Michael Taylor is playing left field, his first start since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento.
The A’s are happy with the production from shortstop Jed Lowrie, who they obtained from Houston in a February trade. But the Astros are pleased so far with what they received in that deal as well.
Left fielder Chris Carter, who’s starting at DH Monday in his first game at the Coliseum as an opposing player, has a team-high four homers with seven RBIs to go with a .277 average.
“Chris has been tremendous,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “Obviously, he’s added thump in the middle of our lineup. He’s a guy that can drive the ball out of the ballpark to all three fields. And he’s gotten some pretty big hits for us early on this season.”
Carter said he relishes the chance to play every day, a chance that didn’t materialize with Oakland.
“I don’t have to worry about being in the lineup,” Carter said. “I was in a platoon situation (with the A’s) where I was facing lefties, and some righties … It’s better (now).”
The Astros also received right-hander Brad Peacock and minor league catcher Max Stassi in that trade. Peacock will start Tuesday after taking the loss against the A’s in Houston on April 5.
Regular A’s left fielder and cleanup man Yoenis Cespedes (strained left hand) was scheduled to run and do some throwing before Monday’s game.
Infielder Adam Rosales (strained rib cage) is progressing well, and he and Melvin both are hopeful he can begin a rehab assignment around the time the A’s begin a six-game road trip Friday at Tampa Bay.
Shortstop Hiro Nakajima (strained left hamstring) needs to show he can run the bases before playing in minor league games. He might run the bases by the weekend.