A's pregame notes: Colon surprises Melvin

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A's pregame notes: Colon surprises Melvin

OAKLAND -- Injured starting pitcher Bartolo Colon surprised manager Bob Melvin on Thursday. What was he doing? Playing catch in the outfield. The big right-hander strained an oblique muscle on June 17 against the Padres. Colon is 6-7 with a 4.22 ERA, 55 strikeouts, and just 16 walks in 89.2 innings pitched. He will be placed on the disabled list Saturday prior to Tyson Ross' start. It will be Ross' job to lose until Colon can return. "I think in this game, you make your bed each and every time you go out there," Melvin said. "You can't say now somebody is hurt and this is my spot. You have to go out there and commit to performing and take it one day at a time." Melvin added that Colon could possibly return prior to the All-Star break. A's pitchers have been on fire lately. They have allowed just 22 hits in their last six games which is an Athletics record dating back to 1918. Yes, their record dates back to the deadball era. The starters are 4-1, with six quality starts in their last seven games. The only non quality start came when Colon left the game injured after two innings pitched. "They start feeding off each other," Melvin said. "Each starter now takes it upon himself to be the guy to go out there and keep it rolling." The A's catcher timeshare is in full swing. Melvin said that Derek Norris will be in the lineup and behind the plate Saturday, with Suzuki sitting. "I spoke to both of them yesterday, and told them what the first four or five games are going to look like," Melvin said. "We'll look and see what we are going to do based on each and every series." Yoenis Cespedes will play some games as DH even when fully healthy. He has taken to being the DH, going 3 for 8, with a double and a three run homer. Between innings he goes into the gym and rides the exercise bike. On Wednesday Cespedes said his hamstring is 80-percent, and he doesn't want to play in the outfield until he is fully healthy.Dallas Braden will continue to throw from flat ground. There is still not timetable as to when he might return to the A's active roster."It's been going well as far as strengthening and playing catch," Melvin said. "Until we get him on a mound we won't know."

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

Lazaro Armenteros, the A’s 17-year-old stud outfield prospect better known as “Lazarito,” is believed to have become the youngest player in franchise history to appear in a Cactus League game.

Armenteros entered at the DH spot in the eighth against the Dodgers and went 0-for-2, flying out to right-center and popping up to shallow center. With the A’s short on position players, Armenteros was brought over from minor league camp and got a little exposure to the big league environment.

“He’s quite athletic, and I know they love him over there” at minor league camp, A's manager Bob Melvin recently said.

Armenteros also got a chance to mingle with Dodger outfielder (and fellow Cuban) Yasiel Puig before the game.

“Over there (in Cuba) you kind of play the game because you like it and you enjoy it,” Armenteros recently said through interpreter Juan Dorado. “Here, it’s more like a job. There’s more preparation.”

Armenteros will stay in Arizona through extended spring training and then head to play in the Dominican Summer League.

A's spring training Day 40: Manaea downplays struggles after walking five

A's spring training Day 40: Manaea downplays struggles after walking five

MESA, Ariz. — Something flipped a switch inside Sean Manaea in the third inning Saturday, and the A’s left-hander pitched with the aggressiveness he’s shown most of spring training.

It was a different story before that, as Manaea issued five walks, two of them forcing in runs, against the Cincinnati Reds. His final Cactus League outing ended after just three innings, his pitch count at more than 70, and he was charged with five earned runs.

“I was trying to nibble at the corners too much,” Manaea said. “The third inning I finally just said, ‘Throw it right down the middle and let them hit it.’”

The plan was to get Manaea close to 90 pitches, so he went to the bullpen and threw 10 more after he was pulled from the game. He entered the day with a 2.81 ERA in his first five outings, walking just one in each of those games.

He downplayed his struggles Saturday in Oakland’s 11-6 split-squad defeat at Hohokam Stadium, and manager Bob Melvin wasn’t expressing major concern either.

“He was just out of sync,” Melvin said. “Typically you don’t see him walk guys like that, let alone multiple guys in a row. It was just a tough day for him. We wanted to try to get him close to 90 pitches. But when you’re throwing that many pitches in three innings, I just couldn’t risk sending him back out there.”

Manaea was stressing the positives of his camp afterward. As he preps for one final tune-up start at AT&T Park against the Giants in the Bay Bridge Series, he particularly likes the way his slider has rounded into form.

“Just being able to have that confidence to throw it for a strike and get weak ground balls and swings and misses, it’s huge,” he said.

CAMP BATTLE: The A’s lost their other split-squad matchup by an identical 11-6 score to the Dodgers in Glendale. Jesse Hahn took the hill and struggled for the second consecutive outing, allowing two homers — including a grand slam by Andrew Toles — and surrendering seven runs (five earned) over 3 1/3 innings. Competing for one of two open rotation spots, Hahn hasn’t shown his best in the Cactus League stretch run. He gave up seven runs against Colorado in his previous start.

ODDS AND ENDS: Third baseman Trevor Plouffe had two more hits against the Reds to raise his average to .425 but left the game after tweaking an abductor muscle in his lower body. “He felt like he’s OK. We just didn’t wanna risk that,” Melvin said. … Rajai Davis connected for his first spring home run and scored three runs. … Sean Doolittle gave up two runs in his inning of work but struck out three. He sported his new eyeglasses for the first time in a major league game. … Matt Chapman hit a three-run homer off former Athletic Rich Hill in the game at Glendale.