Reddick, A's top Mariners 6-1

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Reddick, A's top Mariners 6-1

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PHOENIX -- Hisashi Iwakuma is trying both to work his way into the Seattle Mariners' rotation and get ready for the season in general.Iwakuma allowed five runs - three earned - on seven hits over four innings in the Oakland Athletics' 6-1 victory over Seattle split-squad team Friday night."For the rotation, I need to have more effort to get the result for it," Iwakuma said through an interpreter. "For the season, I also need to work and get ready. I feel I'm getting better every time."

The 30-year-old right hander was 6-7 with a 2.42 ERA for the Tohoka Rakuten Golden Eagles last season but started only 17 games because of right shoulder troubles. He signed a one-year, 1.5 million contract with the Mariners in January.Iwakuma had a rocky start against the Athletics. Coco Crisp reached on an error, Eric Sogard had a hit-and-run single and Josh Reddick and Manny Ramirez added consecutive doubles to give Oakland a 3-0 lead.Collin Cowgill drove in Ramirez with two outs to complete the Athletics' four-run first.Iwakuma settled down giving up two hits but facing only seven batters in the second and third before giving up a fifth run on a walk, a single and a sacrifice fly by Adam Rosales in the fourth."The difference between the first and second inning is I tried to pitch a little bit higher because they were aiming for the low ball," Iwakuma said. "Then I tried to use my curveball to change their minds and their eye levels."Oakland starter Graham Godfrey also struggled in the first, surrendering a run before he got an out as Chone Figgins walked, went to third on a single by Luis Rodriguez and came home on an Ichiro Suzuki single to right.After Ichiro, however, Godfrey retired the final 11 batters he faced and struck out five."It was just a matter of getting under the lights for the first time," Godfrey said. "I was excited. I had a couple of body parts moving in different directions."Cowgill walked in the fourth to reach base in his 11th straight plate appearance before lining out in the sixth."I was aware of it but I tried not to think of it," said Cowgill, who is on the bubble for a reserve spot on the roster. "I'm just trying to play as hard as I can and help this team win."NOTES: Ichiro finished 3 for 4. ... Ramirez, who hit his first spring home run on Tuesday, flew out to the warning track in the third and struck out looking in the fifth. ... Friday was the last of three spring meetings between the A's and Mariners, but they'll be seeing each other often in the coming weeks. Oakland and Seattle open the season with a two-game series beginning March 28 in Tokyo, then come home to play twice more April 6-7 in Oakland. They also meet for Seattle's home opener on April 13. ... The Mariners lost for just the second time in nine road games. ... Sogard has reached base in each of the 12 games in which he has played. ... Oakland leads the majors with 107 runs in 15 games.

A's spring training Day 36: Montas is bullpen possibility for Melvin

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A's spring training Day 36: Montas is bullpen possibility for Melvin

PEORIA, Ariz. — The bullpen puzzle for the A’s seemed a rather simple one coming into spring training.

They appeared to have one spot open, with that job likely going to a second left-hander to join Sean Doolittle. Complicating things is that Daniel Coulombe and Ross Detwiler, the two lefty relief candidates still in camp, have posted identical 9.39 ERAs and have struggled to consistently get left-handed batters out.

Now the options seem wide open for manager Bob Melvin and the front office, with numerous variables. Do they go with just four outfielders? If so, there could be two spots open in an expanded eight-man bullpen. That could allow them to keep not only a lefty but perhaps Raul Alcantara, who is out of minor league options. Alcantara remains a starting rotation option as well.

Do they go with a more conventional seven-man bullpen and keep just one left-hander?

“It’s nice to have a second lefty, yeah,” Melvin said before an 8-5 win to the Mariners. “But if you look at the guys we have in our bullpen, there aren’t too many two-inning guys, guys that can throw more than one inning for you. So that factors in as well.”

Given that, Frankie Montas remains very much in the running for a bullpen spot too. The A’s want to give the hard-throwing right-hander a look as a starter. But coming off an injury-ravaged 2016 season in which he pitched very little, Montas will be on an innings limit, meaning a relief role in which he could be a multi-inning guy might make more sense than starting him right away.

"I wouldn't count him out," Melvin said.

What we know: John Axford, Santiago Casilla, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Dull, Liam Hendriks and Ryan Madson will occupy six relief spots. The rest of the puzzle won’t likely fall into place until the Bay Bridge Series wraps and the A’s make their final cuts to the 25-man roster.

NOTEWORTHY: Speaking of the A’s top relief arms, Melvin said he’s formulating his thoughts on roles for his late-inning guys but hasn’t talked to any of them individually yet. Regardless, he’s holding to the idea that multiple relievers could be asked to close, depending on availability and matchups.

“Even when I do have that conversation with them before we start the season, I don’t know if it will be an exact science,” Melvin said.

HEALTH UPDATE: Chris Bassitt was scheduled for a 30-pitch bullpen session Tuesday, mixing in all of his pitches for the first time since having Tommy John surgery.

“He was pretty fired up about that,” Melvin said.

COTTON STRUGGLES: Jharel Cotton endured his first poor start of the spring Tuesday night in Peoria, walking five and lasting just 3 2/3 innings. Previously, Cotton had issued just four walks total over three starts. The A’s batted around in a six-run third, but Seattle struck for four runs in the fourth, all charged to Cotton to make it a 6-5 game. “We scored the runs and I was supposed to get back out there and put a zero up,” Cotton said. “The command wasn’t there as much. There’s stuff I’ve got to work on in my sides and get back out there next time.”

ODDS AND ENDS: Yonder Alonso, Trevor Plouffe and Bruce Maxwell all had two hits and two RBI apiece … Robinson Cano had an RBI double off Cotton in the third, but Cotton stranded him at third base by striking out Nelson Cruz on a changeup.

A's ace Gray cleared to throw, but return date unknown

A's ace Gray cleared to throw, but return date unknown

MESA, Ariz. -- Sonny Gray underwent a follow-up MRI that came back clean on his strained lat muscle, and the A's right-hander will resume throwing Tuesday afternoon.

Gray isn't projecting when he can return to the mound. Until then, it's still safe to assume he will miss a large chunk of April at least. But he's two weeks removed from suffering the injury, and he and the A's have to be encouraged that he's been cleared to play catch a week earlier than originally planned.

"It's been tough the last two weeks," Gray said. "At the same time, it's a minor issue that we really didn't want to go down the road where it's a reoccurring thing. ... I'm excited to get out there and throw a baseball."

Gray flew to Chicago to be examined by specialist Dr. Anthony Romeo and flew back to Arizona on Monday night.

Manager Bob Melvin said it was good to know Gray is progressing well, but like the pitcher, Melvin wasn't forecasting whether Gray could return sooner than expected.

"It's all going to depend on how he feels and when we get him on the mound, and we're not sure about that yet," Melvin said.