McCarthy returns to the mound


McCarthy returns to the mound

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OAKLAND -- A's opening day starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy last pitched on June 19. He has missed 22 games since then. On Wednesday he made a significant step toward returning to the mound for the A's. By stepping on the bullpen mound and throwing for the first time since re-aggravating his strained right shoulder. McCarthy threw 25 pitches, mixing in his full arsenal. It is a step in the right direction because he had only been playing catch in the outfield prior. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He threw all his pitches, he looked good to me." McCarthy has missed a total of 35 games with right shoulder pain. His MRIs have all come back clean. It appears the only prescription is rest and extra care.
RELATED: Brandon McCarthys stats splits game logs
Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden threw long toss in the outfield. Anderson will start on Saturday for the Stockton Ports. He will be throwing 45 pitches in the outing. The A's aren't ready to commit to how many outings it will likely take to get him back in their starting rotation. "There's an eye on certain dates but I don't want to go there yet," Melvin said. With the A's leading the American League with a 3.43 ERA, and two-to-three key starting pitchers on the mend, they have a good problem on their hands. The starting rotation doesn't have any weak links, so what do the A's do? One option would be going to a six-man rotation. They have expressed concern over the amount of innings rookie Jarrod Parker has been throwing. That might help remedy the concern.RELATED: Positive signs for Anderson, Braden, and McCarthy
Rookie pitchers have accounted for 360.2 of the A's total innings pitched this season. That's roughly 45 percent of their innings pitched. A six-man rotation could help lighten the load. It is an unconventional idea though. The A's last went to a six-man rotation in 2009 under Bob Geren. The team's current manager Bob Melvin has yet to consider it. "We haven't talked about that at this point," he said. Remember this is the A's we are talking about. When situations of extra depth present themselves, the issue is usually worked out on it's own. There is no point forecasting what could happen when Anderson and McCarthy -- or even Braden -- are healthy. They might as well cross that road when the time comes.

A's coach plays part in Schwarber's World Series comeback

A's coach plays part in Schwarber's World Series comeback

Ryan Christenson has a reason to follow the World Series even more so than most years.

Christenson, who manages the A’s Double-A Midland squad, is also skippering the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League. One of his players happened to be Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber, if only for the briefest of periods.

Schwarber, as is well-documented, played in two AFL games as a quick tune-up before joining the Cubs’ active roster for the Fall Classic. It’s an unprecedented path, as Schwarber hadn’t appeared in a game for Chicago since April 7, when he tore the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee.

When he crushed a double off the right field wall in Game 1 against the Indians’ Corey Kluber, Schwarber became the first position player in major league history to get a hit in the World Series after recording zero hits during the regular season.

His preparations for the grand stage took place in the relative anonymity of the Arizona Fall League, and it presented some unique conditions for Christenson to manage under.

“It’s such a unique situation to see someone thrust into that after missing so much season,” Christenson said in a phone interview before Game 1. “To have a chance to be activated this time of year, it’s something special if he can pull this off. If he (sparks the Cubs), literally the guy can be a legend.”

Schwarber appeared in just two games for the Solar Sox, going 1-for-6 as a designated hitter. Christenson didn’t have much hands-on interaction with Schwarber — the Cubs had their own staff members on site helping him with treatment — but Christenson saw Schwarber’s swing rounding into form even in his brief time in the batter’s box.

“The bat speed is there,” said Christenson, who hadn’t met Schwarber previously. “I love watching him work in the cage. He’s got a great swing. I don’t think it would take someone of his caliber long to get his timing and pick up where he left off. It’s a simple swing.”

The Cubs asked Christenson to work Schwarber into the top of the batting order with the Solar Sox so as to maximize his number of plate appearances. They also asked one other favor.

“The only request they had was that I took it easy with him on the bases … not trying to score him from first base on a gapper.”

Schwarber’s mere presence in the Arizona Fall League created a delicate dynamic. The league is geared toward up-and-coming prospects who have yet to break into the majors, and Christenson said AFL officials were concerned about Schwarber dropping in and taking playing time away from those players.

Each major league organization sends at least six players to the AFL. Of those six, one is designated a “priority player,” meaning they must play at least four days a week, so innings can be tricky to spread around.

Adding to the sensitivity of the situation, the Solar Sox’s roster includes not only Cubs prospects but also those of the Cleveland Indians. Christenson needed to avoid a situation where Schwarber was stealing at-bats away from prospects of the American League champs — the team that Schwarber was training to try to help the Cubs beat.

But things unfolded smoothly, and Schwarber showed appreciation for getting the chance to drop in for a couple games.

“I’ll definitely be pulling for him,” Christenson said.

A's claim left-handed reliever off waivers from Cubs

A's claim left-handed reliever off waivers from Cubs

CLEVELAND — Left-hander Giovanni Soto has been claimed by the Oakland Athletics off waivers from the Chicago Cubs.

Soto was designated for assignment Saturday to open a spot on the 40-man roster for slugger Kyle Schwarber, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list following knee surgery in April. Schwarber was put on the World Series roster Tuesday and went 1 for 3 with a double, walk and two strikeouts in the opening 6-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

Soto was traded to the Cubs from Cleveland on April 11 and was 1-3 with a 5.14 ERA in 33 relief appearances for Triple-A Iowa. He made his big league debut with the Indians in 2015 and appeared in six games and 3 1/3 innings.

Oakland claimed him Wednesday.