A's notes: Opportunity knocks for Weeks

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A's notes: Opportunity knocks for Weeks

ANAHEIM -- Jemile Weeks is back in the lineup for the first time since being sent down to Triple-A on August 21. Don't read too much into it at this time. A's manager Bob Melvin stressed that getting Weeks a start was more a product of needed to get shortstop Stephen Drew a day to rest. Cliff Pennington slides back over to shortstop in Drew's place and Weeks is starting at second base."We like what we are seeing out of Pennington and Drew. Those are our starters at this point," Melvin said. "We aren't afraid to play some hot hands too and Weeks has been a big part of this team, I actually feel good I can get him a start." Weeks knows he has to stay humble and make the most of his limited opportunities at this point. He was the starting second baseman in 111 of the A's first 121 games this season. Since returning to the club on Monday he has been patiently waiting to get a shot. "It's great," Weeks said. "Just show I have confidence go out there and play the game I've been playing." Melvin likes to play the hot hand. Weeks will have to prove he can be that guy if he wants to get more playing time. He draws the tough task of having to prove it against Jered Weaver, the leader of the Angels' staff. "I wouldn't say it's tough I think the position I'm in you just have to go out there and whoever I am facing you have to face to the best of your ability," Weeks said. "Obviously he is a good pitcher, he's their ace. You have to go out and battle with him."Weeks is 4 for 17 with a home run and two walks in his career against Weaver. Maybe it's a good time to make an impression. Weaver is 16-4 with a 2.86 ERA but had his last start skipped because of shoulder tendinitis. Weeks hasn't started for the A's since August 20, but made an adjustment at the plate while in Triple-A. "Just like any other start it's a little different having a break but that's the role you are given, that's the role you play," Weeks said. Notes:-- Drew has started 20 of 21 games at shortstop since joining the A's. He is 4 for 27 over his last eight games so a day off might benefit him."He's been pretty durable since he's been with us and that was a pretty bad injury he had," Melvin said. "This is only the second day off I've given him since being here, so therefor he is off." -- Brandon Moss has been getting the bulk of playing time lately at first base. He has run with the opportunity. Moss has six homers in his last 13 games and has hit safely in his last six. Melvin noted that two lefties (Joe Saunders and Zach Britton) are coming up in the two days and that Chris Carter would be starting against them.

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

PHOENIX — Bruce Maxwell homered twice against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, and his reward was a demotion to the minors.

Awkward timing, for sure. But the news itself wasn’t much of a shock to the A’s catcher, who knew he was the odd man out in a three-man roster battle. The A’s like the left-right platoon behind the plate. Stephen Vogt, who like Maxwell hits left-handed, wasn’t going anywhere. Josh Phegley is back healthy after knee surgery and has the advantage of being a right-handed hitter.

“I mean, I could have come out here and hit 1.000 and I probably still would have been in the same situation,” Maxwell said. “I can’t really do much about it. I try not to worry about it. At the end of the day everybody wants to play in the big leagues, but if the opportunity is not there you can’t stress about it.”

Manager Bob Melvin gave Maxwell the news in the dugout after he exited Oakland’s 11-1 victory, and Melvin certainly couldn’t give Maxwell a justifiable reason for the demotion except that the roster math doesn’t add up.

“Great day to have to do that,” Melvin said sarcastically. “But, he’ll be here at some point. We saw his progression last year, he did a great job for us. There’s nothing he did to suggest he needed to be sent down. It’s just a numbers game for him right now.”

The A’s batted around in a five-run third, knocking Brewers starter Matt Garza from the game after he recorded just seven outs. They tacked on four more in the fourth, with Maxwell going deep to left-center for a two-run homer off Jhan Marinez. In the sixth, he hit a solo shot off Corey Knebel to right-center and also added a run-scoring single to complete his four-RBI day.

Melvin has spoken often of the improving power shown by the 26-year-old Maxwell, who hit .283 with a homer and 14 RBI in 33 games with Oakland last season in his first major league call-up.

“If you look at the power numbers over the years, he’s getting better and better,” Melvin said. “He’s got the chance to be a 20-home run guy in the big leagues.”

NOTEWORTHY: Jharel Cotton held Milwaukee to just a run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He bounced back from a wobbly start against Seattle in which he walked five. On Sunday, his toughest challenge was staying loose as the A’s offense put up two time-consuming rallies. Twice, Cotton had to play catch while his teammates paraded around the bases.

But it sure didn’t affect him, as he struck out seven and walked one in his second-to-last spring training start.

“This one, I was more on the attack, using my fastball more so I can set up my changeup and off-speed pitches,” Cotton said. “I know everybody raves about the changeup, but I need my fastball to be there so I can throw that pitch off the fastball.”

He had an entertaining ongoing battle with six-time All-Star Ryan Braun. He struck out Braun on a cutter in the first, gave up a homer to left in the fourth, then battled back from a 3-0 count to get Braun swinging through a fastball in the sixth.

“I got him twice, he got me once,” Cotton said. “I think I won that battle today.”

HEALTH UPDATE: Daniel Mengden, who has missed all of spring with a broken right foot, is scheduled to get his walking boot removed Monday. Mengden said he’ll stay in Arizona for anywhere from two to four weeks, taking part in extended spring training. The good news for the right-hander: He’s been able to play catch while wearing the boot, so that’s a bit of a head-start for him once he gets full mobility with his foot. There’s no timetable yet for his return.

ODDS AND ENDS: The A’s knocked out 16 hits and recorded double-digit runs for the fifth time this spring. They improved to 16-12. … Alejandro De Aza, fighting for an outfield roster spot, went 2-for-3 with an RBI to raise his average to .300. … With few regulars making the trip to Maryvale Baseball Park, second baseman Max Schrock came over from minor league camp and once again made an impact, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. … John Axford threw a scoreless inning of relief. Frankie Montas handled the final two innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts and a walk. The hard-throwing prospect is a candidate for the bullpen as a multi-inning guy.

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

The A's optioned catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A Nashville Sunday, the club announced

Maxwell, 26, went 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI in the A's 11-1 win over the Brewers Sunday. Both home runs were his lone of the spring. 

In 2016, Maxwell played in 26 games with the A's after his promotion from Triple-A. He hit .283 with one homer. 

The 2012 second-round draft pick is a career .266/.346/.370 hitter in the minors with 25 home runs. Maxwell is the A's No. 10 prospect by Baseball America. 

The A’s now have 37 players in big league camp.