A's rookie Cotton honored by Pedro Martinez comparison

A's rookie Cotton honored by Pedro Martinez comparison

KANSAS CITY — Jharel Cotton’s reaction was equal parts appreciation and amazement when he saw the tweet from Pedro Martinez, where the Hall of Famer said Cotton reminded him of himself.

After Cotton threw seven scoreless innings against the Royals on Monday, Martinez — an MLB Network analyst — took to social media and tweeted: “Jharel Cotton reminds me a lot of myself. Nasty change up, nice cutter, same arm angle and rotation, and same grip I used to have.”

That was something for Cotton to hear, given that the A’s rookie right-hander says he used to watch Martinez pitch a lot on TV while growing up in the Virgin Islands.

“Growing up, he was like the first guy I watched,” Cotton said. “When I played video games, I’d always pitch with him. It’s pretty cool for him to say that about me.”

A’s manager Bob Melvin kidded with Cotton about the comparison Wednesday afternoon, but said:

“Who am I to argue that? You look at the pitch complement, and there are a lot of similarities there. It’s one heck of a compliment.”

However, the fact that Cotton wears No. 45 — the same number as Martinez wore for most of his career — is completely coincidental.

“Honestly, I didn’t even know that until he said it yesterday,” Cotton said. “And I was like, ‘Wow!’ I wear his number.’”

A's designate Stephen Vogt for assignment

A's designate Stephen Vogt for assignment

The A's designated for assignment two-time All-Star catcher Stephen Vogt, possibly ending the Oakland career of one of their most tenured players.

Also Thursday morning, the A's placed third baseman Matt Chapman on the 10-day disabled list with left knee cellulitis and recalled catcher Bruce Maxwell and first baseman Matt Olson.

The A's have 10 days to trade or release Vogt or send him to the minors, though it's possible he gets claimed on waivers too.

Vogt is one of the A's most popular players and a clubhouse leader, but has lost playing time recently to Josh Phegley.

Vogt's defensive cameo comes straight out of left field

Vogt's defensive cameo comes straight out of left field

OAKLAND — Stephen Vogt made an unexpected appearance in left field Wednesday night, and his performance got approval from a pretty good outfield authority.

Former A’s teammate Josh Reddick was watching from the Houston Astros’ dugout and thought the catcher-by-trade handled himself very well.

“I was talking to (Houston manager) A.J. (Hinch) and I said, ‘It’s gonna be interesting because you know at least one ball’s gonna get to him,’” Reddick said. “You start laughing because four of the five that were hit that inning were hit to him.”

With the A’s bench short-handed, manager Bob Melvin sent Vogt to left after he pinch-hit for Rajai Davis, and indeed Vogt got a workout throughout the top of the eighth. That added a bit of levity to a 5-1 loss that otherwise provided the A’s very little to cheer about.

They were bottled up by Astros right-hander Mike Fiers and four relievers as the Astros won their ninth in a row at the Coliseum and their third straight in this four-game series. A’s starter Sean Manaea was rolling through five scoreless innings before Houston blitzed him for three runs in the sixth. The Astros tacked on a couple more late runs against Oakland’s bullpen and that was enough on a night the A’s mustered just four hits total.

After Vogt delivered an RBI groundout that scored the A’s only run in the seventh, Melvin wanted to keep Vogt’s left-handed bat in the lineup, so he asked the veteran catcher if he could handle left.

“I said yeah, absolutely,” Vogt said.

It’s easy to forget that Vogt came up through the Tampa Bay Rays’ system playing a lot of outfield, and he played more than a dozen games in the outfield in 2014 for the A’s, mostly in right.

He sure got tested. The Astros’ first four hitters of the eighth all hit balls in Vogt’s direction. He got a routine fly from Brian McCann, a difficult low liner off the bat of Yuli Gurriel that he smothered for a single, a double from Alex Bregman that he did a good job cutting off and a sacrifice fly to the warning track from Jake Marisnick.

“I had the adrenaline shot run up and I was loose and ready to go,” Vogt said. “Obviously I was a little more focused than probably your average outfielder out there. I’m glad the first one came to me, otherwise I would have been sweatin’ it for a while.”

Vogt has lost time recently behind the plate against right-handers to Josh Phegley, who has done an effective job controlling the running game. And though you shouldn’t by any means expect to see Melvin running Vogt to the outfield often, you also shouldn’t assume it won’t happen at all.

At some point, the A’s figure to call up catcher Bruce Maxwell as part of the crop of young players they’re trying to give more time too. If the left-handed hitting Maxwell were to share catching duties with Phegley, and if the A’s were to trade Yonder Alonso (again, we’re talking ‘ifs’ here), it’s conceivable Vogt’s left-handed bat could be put to use at spots other than catcher, perhaps at first base or, in a pinch, even the outfield.

His old teammate thinks he could pull it off.

“I remember him playing in right in ’14 when I was (injured),” Reddick said. “He did a pretty good job out there, it’s not like he’s foreign to it. He knows what he’s doing.”