Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

OAKLAND — Their pitching staff got banged up throughout the night, but the A’s hope the only lasting damage they absorbed Tuesday night was on the scoreboard.

In the process of an 11-9 defeat to the Miami Marlins, they lost starting pitcher Jesse Hahn to a strained triceps and first baseman Yonder Alonso to a contusion on his right hand and wrist.

The early diagnosis showed they may have dodged a bullet with Alonso — X-rays came back negative for a fracture after he was hit flush in the wrist area on a pitch from lefty Jarlin Garcia. Alonso initially walked off the field after being hit, but after a few moments re-emerged and took first base to run. He was replaced on defense in the seventh.

“I’ve had some history with my hand,” Alonso said afterward. “I broke it three or four years ago. At the time when I got hit, I felt like that was the case all over again. The pain started going away, that’s when I realized I think I’m OK.”

Alonso’s wrist and hand began to swell while he was running the bases, and he had to exit the game. The first baseman had missed the four previous games with a sore left knee, then proceeded to homer in his first at-bat Tuesday, pulling him back into a tie with Khris Davis for the team homer lead at 13. Suffering another injury in the same game could be classified as rotten timing, but Alonso came away feeling fortunate all things considered.

“I think we got very lucky,” he said. “It got me right on the wrist but a little bit on the hand as well. We’re lucky that there’s no break. You just gotta move forward.”

Manager Bob Melvin said Alonso would be a game-time decision for whether he’ll start Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, but with the A’s off Thursday, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they rested Alonso in an attempt to let him heal up for Friday’s road trip opener against the Yankees.

Hahn’s condition seems more ambiguous, and perhaps more troubling. He said he felt fine warming up before Tuesday’s game, but when he took the mound to warm up before the third, he experienced a drop in velocity and couldn’t figure out why.

“I experienced some tightness near my triceps and a big velocity decrease,” Hahn said. “The ball wasn’t coming out (well) at all. It was a weird feeling. I’ve dealt with elbow (problems) before. Usually for me when I have elbow pain I can feel it on my pitches, and I didn’t feel it. It was kinda weird. … It almost felt like a dead arm.”

Hahn gave up a leadoff single to Christian Yelich in the third, then was taken out of the game. Afterward, he and the training staff discussed the possibility of getting an MRI but nothing had been set in stone.

“I’m throwing the ball as hard as I can and I see 89-90 on the board,” Hahn said. “I know something’s not right. But at the same time, I’m not feeling anything. It leaves you thinking. To be in that state of mind on the mound is not good.”

Should the A’s need to fill Hahn’s rotation spot the next time through, and should they want to dip into the minor league ranks, Daniel Mengden is on the same turn with Triple-A Nashville and threw seven scoreless innings Tuesday (81 pitches). He’s on the 40-man roster. Jharel Cotton and Daniel Gossett also are coming off great outings for Nashville, though their turns in the rotation don’t line up as good with Hahn’s.

A's receive good news about Alonso's knee; Plouffe honors Cornell

A's receive good news about Alonso's knee; Plouffe honors Cornell

OAKLAND — The A’s received encouraging news Thursday night after MRI results showed no structural damage on first baseman Yonder Alonso’s left knee.

Alonso left Wednesday’s game at Seattle after twisting his knee on a check swing. Manager Bob Melvin said after Thursday’s 8-3 win over Boston that Alonso wouldn’t be in Friday’s lineup but could return Saturday or Sunday.

Before Thursday’s game, Alonso said treatment and therapy had the knee feeling better, but that extra rest was probably a good idea.

“I don’t think it’s anything serious,” Alonso said. “One or two more days, depending on what they want to do. We’ll see how it goes, how I react to treatment. I think we’re headed in the right direction to do this stuff for a day or two, then I’ll be ready.”

Ryon Healy started at first Thursday and will likely do so again Friday against Sox lefty Chris Sale.

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Third baseman Trevor Plouffe was among the multitude of rock fans devastated by the death of Soundgarden lead singer Chris Cornell on Wednesday night. As a tribute, Plouffe changed his walk-up music to Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun.” He said before the game he might keep the Soundgarden theme for a while, and given Plouffe had a three-hit night against Boston, why mess with what’s working?

Actually, Plouffe’s swing has shown gradual signs of coming around. He’s riding a nine-game hitting streak, during which he’s hitting .424. That’s lifted his overall average to .252.

Said Melvin: “Typically when we've been good this year it's been the (Jed) Lowrie, (Khris) Davis, Alonso (combo), and when they're not swinging at times, and that's going to happen, you need some depth in the lineup. Trevor's got a history of hitting. He's swinging the bat now as well as he has all year.”

Before the game, Plouffe made sure to have music from the Seattle grunge era playing over the clubhouse speakers in tribute to Cornell. Plouffe also is a huge fan of Pearl Jam, which helped spawn the grunge movement along with bands like Soundgarden, and said he’s met Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder on multiple occasions.

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Reliever Sean Doolittle has been playing catch to test his strained shoulder, and he’s scheduled to throw a flat-ground session Sunday. If that goes well, he’ll likely throw off the mound toward the middle of next week.

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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia went 2-for-4 and now has a 21-game hitting streak against the A’s. The only Boston player with a longer hitting streak against them since the franchise moved to Oakland is Jim Rice, with a 22-gamer from 1979-81. Peoria also owns the majors’ longest active hitting streak against the A’s.

Alonso 'wasn't afraid' to make changes that unleashed his power

Alonso 'wasn't afraid' to make changes that unleashed his power

OAKLAND — Consider A’s hitting coach Darren Bush slightly less astonished than the rest of the baseball world over Yonder Alonso’s recent burst of power.

The veteran first baseman deposited two more balls over the fence in the A’s 7-3 loss to the Angels on Tuesday night, giving him 11 for the season and already eclipsing his previous career high (nine) just 33 games into the regular season.

That ties Alonso for the second-most homers in the American League, surprising for a player whose lack of power has been the biggest knock on him over his eight big league seasons.

But what fans perhaps see as a freaky turn of events is, in Bush’s eyes, a just reward for a player who’s been as committed as anyone in Oakland’s clubhouse to improving himself as a hitter.

“I know there’s been a lot of talk about how he’s trying to improve his launch angle. None of that’s true,” Bush said. “All he’s trying to do is be in position and execute a good swing, and the by-product is the ball is going the way that it should.”

The evolution of Alonso’s offensive game began toward the end of last season, when he started incorporating a front leg kick to initiate his swing. Not surprisingly, he worked on it with good friend and former A’s teammate Danny Valencia, who also was a teammate at the University of Miami.

Bush said the leg kick simply helps Alonso get into the position he needs to be in to start his swing.

“If you watch his video from last year and compare it to this year, last year he’d get his foot down early, and then he’d re-start and try to execute his swing. It’s tough to do,” Bush said. “This year, his leg kick is just on time. He’s given himself time to read the pitch, he’s given himself time to execute his swing. In my mind, he hasn’t changed anything. The only thing he’s changed is the position he’s in before he executes his swing.

“He doesn’t have a two-part swing. It’s just one fluid swing.”

The results are, quite frankly, ridiculous. Never before had Alonso hit more than nine home runs in an entire season. He’s now hit seven in the first eight games of May alone.

He’s leading the A’s in batting average (.309) homers (11) and RBI (27). Teammate Chris Bassitt took to Twitter to campaign for Alonso’s All-Star candidacy.

“Baseball fans... @YonderalonsoU is an allstar,” Bassitt tweeted. “Can we please do what's right and get him to Miami? He is beyond deserving.”

In addition to his two homers Tuesday, Alonso made a slick play in cutting off Cameron Maybin’s sharp grounder headed for right field and threw a strike to Jharel Cotton covering first. Later he made an over-the-head catch, while on the run, of Martin Maldonado’s foul pop.

A’s manager Bob Melvin referenced Alonso’s opposite-field power, which he displayed on his first homer, a two-run shot in the first off Alex Meyer.

“What are we in? Early May?” Melvin asked. “It’s been impressive. The thing that’s most impressive to me is the home runs to the opposite field. … He’s just trying to make hard contact, and using his legs. When he gets the ball in the air, he’s a strong guy. It has a chance to go.”

Alonso began incorporating the changes in his swing in pregame work last season but didn’t try taking it into the game. He continued working in the offseason, sending Bush video of his swing. The two talked often throughout the winter. Once spring training began, Bush also worked with Alonso on being more patient, being willing to work deeper into the count.

It’s way too early to talk about the All-Star Game. But what a story it would be if Alonso got the invite to Miami, where he and his family settled after defecting from Cuba, and where he starred for the Hurricanes.

However, the last thing Alonso likes to do is talk about himself when reporters ask about this hot streak.

“It’s just working hard,” he said, “just getting to the park and making sure I’m getting my work in and staying focused.”

Bush enjoys seeing Alonso benefiting from all the work he’s put in.

“It’s not easy for guys (to make adjustments) at the big league level, and he wasn’t afraid,” Bush said. “I’m happy that he wasn’t content. I’m happy that he wanted to improve.”