Yonder Alonso

In odd dynamic, Graveman used knowledge of Alonso to attack Mariners 1B

In odd dynamic, Graveman used knowledge of Alonso to attack Mariners 1B

OAKLAND — Kendall Graveman watched many, many at-bats of Yonder Alonso’s as a teammate.

He got his first chance Tuesday to put some of that knowledge to work as an opponent.

What an odd dynamic it was for the A’s to face their beloved teammate just two days after the A’s traded him to Seattle. Alonso went 1-for-5 in the Mariners’ 7-6 10-inning victory, with just a check-swing single to show for his first game with his new team.

He didn’t factor heavily into the storyline of Oakland’s defeat. But Alonso was deep in the thoughts of A’s players, including Graveman, who was making just his second start since returning from a 2 1/2-month stay on the disabled list.

“We’ve seen him all year, we’ve been able to watch him,” Graveman said. “So to be able to attack the way I did was good. He’s on another team now. He’s no longer a teammate.”

That was the competitive way to view the situation. But close ties don’t just evaporate, and Alonso was very tight with many players in the A’s clubhouse.

“It was a little awkward, I miss him already,” A’s left fielder Khris Davis said. “I wish him the best. He’s a great teammate and I want to see him do well.”

Davis launched his 30th homer of the season, a three-run blast in the first that got the A’s off to a great start. Ryon Healy would add his 21st homer in the fifth to open up a 6-2 lead. Graveman could not take that cushion and make it stand though. The Mariners got to him for two runs in the sixth before A’s manager Bob Melvin came with the hook.

And though three errors, some key hits off the bullpen and a lack of late-inning offense helped seal the A’s fate in this one, what also stood out was another starting effort that was too short. In five of the past seven games, A’s starters have worked less than six innings.

Graveman took some encouragement from improving over his two-inning start Thursday against the Giants, but he also couldn’t take advantage of the prosperity granted by his team’s early offense.

“I got a quick out in the sixth, but we’ve got to find a way to continue to get outs there,” said Graveman, who worked 5 1/3 innings total. “I thought my stuff flattened out a little there toward the end. I started leaving some pitches up and they did a good job putting the ball in play.”

Graveman denied fatigue playing a factor in the sixth, but Melvin said in his postgame comments that it appeared the sinkerballer was getting tired.

“I thought he threw the ball better and probably goes deeper into the game next time.”

The uniqueness of seeing Alonso in the opposing dugout should be in the rear-view mirror. Now the A’s need to focus on tightening up their defense and getting longer nights’ work from their starting pitchers to take advantage of this long nine-game stay at the Coliseum.

After comeback win, Alonso enjoys one last plane ride with A's

After comeback win, Alonso enjoys one last plane ride with A's

ANAHEIM — Among the large group of players sitting in the A’s joyous clubhouse enjoying a postgame meal Sunday was Yonder Alonso.

The All-Star first baseman found out he was traded to Seattle in the morning as A’s players were just arriving to Angel Stadium. He stuck around and had to like what he saw as his former teammates battled from a five-run deficit to beat the Los Angeles Angels 11-10 in one of Oakland’s most improbable victories of the year.

Certainly one person who will miss Alonso is Bruce Maxwell. The A’s catcher, who has slumped badly of late, came through big in the eighth, lining a two-run single off Angels closer Bud Norris that capped the A’s five-run rally that inning. They strung together six hits in a row, all with two outs.

The A’s have seen their share of veteran teammates shipped off this season, but of the Alonso trade, Maxwell said:

“That’s one that hits a little closer to home for me, him being my locker mate last year and being like a brother.”

Alonso, who often talks of the importance of team unity, veteran leadership and camaraderie, was in no hurry to leave his A’s teammates. He accompanied the A’s on their team charter back to Oakland after the game, gearing up for what’s sure to be an odd couple of days for him.

His new team, the Mariners, are off Monday and begin a two-game series against the A’s at the Coliseum on Tuesday. So Alonso enjoyed one last plane ride with players he’ll be opposing on the field come Tuesday.

He’s looking forward to joining Seattle, which is fighting for an American League Wild Card spot.

“I know a lot of those guys over there,” Alonso said of the Mariners.

It’s silly to make too much of one victory in August for a team saddled in last place as the A’s are. But surely for manager Bob Melvin, Sunday’s stirring comeback was the kind of grittiness he wanted to see from his team on a day yet another key veteran was sent packing.

“There’s just no quit,” Melvin said. “We’ve talked about this group for a while now. They like to play. You persevere, you battle through and give yourself a chance at the win and come up with some really good at-bats. That was an all-around team win.”

The Mariners claimed Alonso on revocable waivers, meaning the A’s could have pulled him off the waiver wire, simply let the Mariners take him and assume his salary or work out a trade. They did the latter, receiving minor league outfielder Boog Powell in return. Powell, a one-time A’s farm hand who was drafted in 2012, will head to Triple-A Nashville.

The trade was all about opening up a spot for highly regarded prospect Matt Olson to finally come up from Nashville and get an extended big league shot with Oakland. Melvin said the left-handed hitting Olson will platoon at first with Ryon Healy. Olson can also play the corner outfield spots.

“We wish (Alonso) the best,” Melvin said. “He’s done a great job for us, not only been productive for us, but a great resource for our younger guys. He’s probably going into a little better situation for him as far as the record goes. But it’s time for Matt Olson to get a chance to play here. This guy, a couple years ago, was our top prospect and does a lot of things really well.”

Chad Pinder, one of those young players who are now the emphasis for the A’s, went 4-for-5 Sunday and finished just a triple short of the cycle. The A’s took two of three from the Angels after they’d lost seven in a row at Angel Stadium.

“When our guys are seeing the ball and clicking at the plate, these young guys, we can do some damage,” Maxwell said.

A's All-Star Alonso reacts to being traded: 'Surprised, but at the same time...'

A's All-Star Alonso reacts to being traded: 'Surprised, but at the same time...'

ANAHEIM — A’s players got a surprise Sunday morning with news that All-Star first baseman Yonder Alonso had been traded to the Seattle Mariners.

After the non-waiver trade deadline passed with Oakland dealing only starter Sonny Gray, it appeared Alonso might be in green and gold through season’s end. But the Mariners claimed him on waivers this week and were able to work out a deal with the A’s.

Outfielder Boog Powell, a former A’s prospect, is coming back to Oakland in the deal. The A’s sent Powell to Tampa Bay in the Ben Zobrist trade of January 2015, and the Rays later traded Powell to Seattle. The A’s haven’t announced who will take Alonso’s roster spot. With Matt Joyce suspended one more game, they will play with 23 players Sunday afternoon against the Angels.

But a likely scenario could have Powell heading to Triple-A Nashville and Matt Olson being called up to platoon with Ryon Healy at first base. Healy draws the start there Sunday.

Teammates, just learning of the news that was announced, came up to Alonso to shake hands and say goodbye, gradually spreading the news to one another of the trade.

“Surprised,” Alonso said of his reaction. “But at the same time excited. I’m going to a team that’s a game out of playoff contention. It’s a lot of fun to play some meaningful baseball, probably for the first time in my career I’ll get to to that (at this time of the season).

“I’m ecstatic, and obviously I can’t thank the Oakland A’s enough for the opportunity I got here, first off. They were able to not only believe in me but … helped me mature and recharge and restart my career.”

In a weird twist, the Mariners are off Monday and actually begin a series Tuesday against the A’s at the Coliseum. So Alonso will simply fly back to the Bay Area to meet up with his new team before taking the field Tuesday before Oakland fans in a different uniform. Alonso is also enthused about being reunited with good friend Danny Valencia, a college teammate and an A’s teammate in 2016.

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After the trade, Alonso sent out a heartfelt thank you on Twitter to the A's and all the fans.