A's lose Cespedes, win big vs. Texas

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A's lose Cespedes, win big vs. Texas

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OAKLAND -- The bags were packed, the music was on, and everyone was dressed in their customary travel attire -- dress clothes and blazers. The A's departed Oakland with their heads held high after defeating the division-leading Rangers 7-1 on Thursday. "To be able to take three out of four with the struggles we've seen recently is a big lift," A's manager Bob Melvin said.After enduring a nine-game losing streak the A's now have won four of their last six. Next up is a six-game interleague trip to Arizona and Colorado. One negative: Oakland may be without outfielder Yoenis Cespedes for another stretch. The Cuban slugger strained his left hamstring rounding second base in the first inning.
When Cespeds pulled up at third base, he grabbed his left hamstring and bent over at the waist. Melvin said he is optimistic that Cespedes won't miss much time but admitted that when he first saw the injury occur, he was immediately thinking it would result in a trip to the DL.
The A's are officially listing the slugging outfielder as day-to-day. "He probably won't play tomorrow in a National League park," Melvin said. "Even if he can just pinch-hit in a National League scenario in a day or two, he ends up still being a piece for us. We're holding out hope that's the case."Even with the injury news, the focus was on the positive -- and the AL West standings.
"You kind of take some of the sheen off the Rangers and Angels," said starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who upped his record to 5-3. "You don't feel like they are these untouchable teams that you see in the playoffs every year. These are teams that we can go up and beat, and hit, and can pitch against. That's one of the biggest things for this franchise.""I like the direction that we're moving right now," Coco Crisp said. "We believe we can beat every team out there."Crisp had been ice cold, but Melvin showed faith in him, keeping him in the starting lineup the last two games. Thursday he went 2 for 4, with four RBIs. He hit a homer and a bases-loaded triple and accounted for four of the A's seven runs. After the game Crisp had a little fun at the media's expense. "I think right now my mindset is I'm going to right back into struggling after this." Crisp said sarcastically. "I believe that I have no chance whatsoever. These are going to be my last two hits of the season... Seriously, I'm happy with today. I'm going to be OK."Crisp had reason to be in a light-hearted mood. He broke out of an 0-for-16 slump, and snapped a 40-game homeless streak."We all felt it, this is a guy that we rely heavily on," Melvin said. "When somebody struggles that is important to us, we all feel it." McCarthy clearly out-dueled Japanese sensation Yu Darvish and cut through the Texas lineup. He didn't issue a walk, and struck out five hitters over seven solid innings -- throwing just 88 pitches. After allowing a run in the fourth inning, he retired the final 11 batters he faced. "We were going to be a little careful with the pitch count again today," Melvin said. "I never would have envisioned seven innings, I was thinking more like six, and maybe 85-90 pitches today." The A's had a patient approach at the plate against Darvish. He was a bit wild, walking six A's batters and hitting Kurt Suzuki. The Japanese sensation allowed six runs on six hits and departed with one out in the sixth inning.Tanner Scheppers entered in relief and was greeted with a mammoth homer from Brandon Moss. The ball ended up several rows back in the right-field bleachers. It was Moss' first hit with the A's. He became known for his power in Sacramento, where he had 15 homers this season before his Wednesday call-up. "Boy, that went a fair piece," Melvin said. "That's going out at night with a 30-mph wind in his face." The series win as the A's first since May 4-6 in Tampa Bay. Coincidentally, that series against the Rays was also the last series Cespedes played in prior to his left-hand injury.

A’s agree to terms with Gray, Hendriks and Vogt to avoid arbitration

A’s agree to terms with Gray, Hendriks and Vogt to avoid arbitration

The Oakland A’s avoided arbitration with right-handed pitchers Sonny Gray and Liam Hendriks and catcher Stephen Vogt when they agreed to terms on one-year contracts for the 2017 season, the club announced today.

Gray went 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA in 22 starts last year in a season shortened by two stints on the disabled list.  His ERA was more than 2½ runs higher than his previous career high and his five wins follow back-to-back 14-win seasons.  Gray went 33-20 with a 2.88 ERA 76 games over his first three seasons with the A’s and now has a 3.42 ERA in his career, which ranks ninth in Oakland history.

Hendriks compiled a 3.76 ERA and .270 opponents batting average in 53 relief appearances in his first season with the A’s.  He had an 8.27 ERA and .394 opponents batting average in 11 games before going on the disabled list in early May with a strained right triceps.  Hendriks then logged a 2.23 ERA and .222 opponents batting average in 42 games following his return from the DL.

Vogt played in a career-high 137 games last year and hit .251 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI.  He also had career bests with 123 hits, 30 doubles and 46 extra base hits.  Vogt was named to his second consecutive American League All-Star team.

The only remaining arbitration eligible player on the A’s roster is Khris Davis.

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Mariners swing pair of trades, bolster rotation with addition of Smyly

Mariners swing pair of trades, bolster rotation with addition of Smyly

SEATTLE -- Jerry Dipoto's 11th trade this offseason rounded out the Seattle Mariners roster with his top target.

"I've probably spent more time through the course of our offseason trying to acquire Drew Smyly than any other thing that we've done," the general manager said Wednesday.

Seattle made pair of deals on Wednesday that ultimately landed Smyly, a pitcher Dipoto thinks will fill out the Mariners starting rotation. Seattle also landed a potential key reliever, getting right-hander Shae Simmons from the Atlanta Braves.

The Mariners acquired outfielder Mallex Smith from Atlanta, then sent him to Tampa Bay along with infielder Carlos Vargas and left-hander Ryan Yarbrough for Smyly. Smith was also an offseason target for the Mariners but when Seattle acquired Jarrod Dyson from Kansas City last week, Smith instead became the conduit in helping to obtain Smyly.

"It became apparent to us over the last two or three days that we were able to access Drew Smyly by making the deal with Atlanta that tapped into Mallex Smith," Dipoto said. "So effectively these were two deals that were interlinked."

Smyly is the centerpiece of what Seattle was trying to accomplish as the Mariners seem to have rounded out a starting rotation that appeared to be a major question at the start of the year. The acquisitions of Smyly and Yovani Gallardo from Baltimore last week appear to have filled out a rotation where Felix HernandezHisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton were the only certainties.

Smyly, 27, made 30 starts last season for Tampa Bay, throwing a career-high 175 1/3 innings and striking out 167. He was 7-12 with a 4.88 ERA, but starting pitching is one of Tampa Bay's strongest assets, and Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager Erik Neander felt comfortable making the deal because of the depth the Rays have in that area.

Smyly was 15-15 with a 3.95 ERA in 49 starts for Tampa Bay after being acquired from Detroit in the 2014 trade deadline deal that sent David Price to the Tigers. He is arbitration eligible after winning $3.75 million in an arbitration hearing last season.

"He fits our ballpark particularly well. He's a pretty extreme fly-ball pitcher with the low walks, high strikeouts, who in our ballpark, with what we think is a greatly improved outfield defense fits us like a glove really," Dipoto said. "If as we expect he shows up and does his thing it should fit very well for us in this ballpark."

What Smith may be able to add was attractive to Neander, who said the trade was made to help position the Rays to be competitive in 2017. He stopped short of saying he expects Smith to make the team coming out of spring training.

"We need to get better," Neander said. "To do that, we need more competition" for jobs.

Simmons is also a key acquisition for Seattle, providing another power arm in the bullpen. Simmons, 26, made seven appearances last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and threw just 6 2/3 big league innings. Before elbow issues, Simmons was 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 26 appearances during the 2014 season.

"He's had a strong history with striking (batters) out and (we're) really excited to plug him in," Dipoto said.

The cost for Seattle to complete to two deals meant giving up two of its top pitching prospects in Yarbrough and Luiz Gohara. Yarbrough, 25, was named the Southern League pitcher of the year after going 12-4 with a 2.95 ERA at Double-A Jackson last season. Gohara, 20, was 7-2 with a 1.81 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 13 starts at two Class A stops.

Seattle also sent lefty Thomas Burrows to Atlanta and designated right-hander Cody Martin for assignment to make room on its 40-man roster.