A’s: Is there a doctor in the house? Matt Chapman fighting a knee infection

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Chapman Newsday
Matt Chapman takes congratulations from Khris Davis Photo Newsday

We at SportsRadioService.com have been sharing a dark joke about the Oakland Athletics being the “M.A.S.H. Unit” of Major League Baseball for several years. This year has been no different as the A’s have used the Disabled List 17 times and they have seven players on that list as of today.

Now promising rookie call-up Matt Chapman is fighting to stay off the list that has killed the hopes of better days for the A’s for the past several years.

Chapman was called up from Triple-A Nashville to play third base in the four-game series with the New York Yankees. Chapman started all four games going 3-for-14 at the plate including a double and two walks. He scored two runs and posted three RBI. The batting average for the weekend was just .214 but the On-Base-Percentage was a very Oakland “A-like” .318.

The rookie third baseman also showed off his very impressive speed on the base path and his very strong throwing arm on defense. To call A’s fans excited is to make a true understatement.

When the lineup card for the game on Monday versus the Houston Astros was posted and Chapman’s name was not written on that card, an air of concern rose quickly around the Coliseum.

The A’s revealed that Chapman has developed an infection in his left knee. It is believed he may have developed the infection after sliding into a fence in a Triple-A game with Nashville prior to joining the big club.

A’s head trainer Nick Paparesta indicated that the infection will be treated with antibiotics. The Athletics are hoping that it will be a quick regimen of antibiotics for Chapman and a fast return to the lineup without a stop on DL.

After a four-game sweep of the Yankees, the Athletics would like have the talent and enthusiasm of Chapman on the field versus the Astros.

Medical updates, roster moves, awards

news-and-notes

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Alvarez shutdown for the season

The comeback of right-handed pitcher Henderson Alvarez has come to an abrupt halt after another disappointing development in his rehabilitation.

The A’s signed Alvarez expecting that he could return to pitching as soon as May as he recovered from shoulder surgery. There have been three attempts to get Alvarez ready in the minor leagues to make his major league comeback, but all have fallen short.

The next step is for Alvarez is to see Dr. James Andrews who will examine the shoulder and recommend further action. A recent MRI showed no structural damage but a second shoulder surgery looms as a possibility.

The 26-year-old Alvarez is under the A’s control for 2017, but a shoulder surgery would mean he would be unable to pitch next year. The A’s would have to decide if they would want to invest in a contract that would not pay off until 2018.

“I really feel bad for him,” Melvin said Tuesday. “This is a guy that’s worked so hard to get back with us and been right on the cusp a couple different times and had to go back and go through the rehab process again, which is very difficult to do, so my heart goes out to him.”

There is another Alcantara in the house

 The A’s have added another player to the expanded September roster. Infielder/outfielder Arismendy Alcantara was recalled from the Stockton Ports on Tuesday. This will be the fourth time Alcantara has been on the Major League roster this season.

Alcantara was used a pinch runner in the Tuesday night game versus the Angels. After Billy Butler singled in the eighth inning, Alcantara ran for Butler and scored the A’s second run of the game when Joey Wendle singled to right field.

A’s claim RHP off waivers from Tigers

 The A’s claimed right-handed pitcher Donn Roach off waivers from the Detroit Tigers. Roach was assigned to Triple-A Nashville. The Sounds will need pitching help for the Pacific Coast League Playoffs as they have lost three starting pitchers – Mengden, Alcantara and Cotton – to the A’s expanded Major League roster.

Roach started the season in the Seattle organization. He made four relief appearances for the Mariners and 17 starts for Triple-A Tacoma before being designated for assignment on August 6.

The TigerS claimed the 26-year-old Roach off waivers and assigned him to Triple-A Toledo. He made five starts for the Mud Hens and posted a 3-1 record with a 3.03 ERA.

Roach made his Major League debut in 2014 with the San Diego Padres. He has also pitched for the Cubs in the big leagues.

A’s nominate Doolittle for Clemente Award

 The Oakland A’s have selected relief pitcher Sean Doolittle as the A’s nominee for the 2016 Roberto Clemente Award for his outstanding efforts in the community.

Each Major League team nominates a player they believe deserves the award based on their service to the community.

Doolittle works to assist military families, is a leader among Major Leaguers in helping to create LBGT alliances  and hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for Syrian refugees at his home in Chicago.

The award is named after and is a tribute to the Hall of Fame baseball player and great humanitarian who lost his life in an airplane crash bringing aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua in 1972.

Fans can vote for their favorite nominee by posting the nominee’s hashtag to @MLB on Twitter or on Facebook.com/MLB. Doolittle’s hashtag is #VoteDoolittle.

Scarsone named PCL Manager of the Year

 Nashville Sounds manager Steve Scarsone has been named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year. The award is given based the voting of the league’s managers and media representatives.

Nashville – which won the American Southern Division title – had 22 players spend time with the Sounds before being called up to the Oakland A’s this season. Of the Athletics’ current 25-man roster, 14 were with Nashville before being promoted to Oakland.

Scarsone is in his fourth season as the A’s Triple-A manager having been the skipper in Sacramento prior to the move to Nashville. He has been a manager in the A’s minor league system in Class-A and Double-A as well.

Scarsone played seven seasons in the Major Leagues as a utility infielder.

Christenson awarded Texas League Manager of the Year

 Midland RockHounds manager Ryan Christenson has been named Manager of the Year in the Texas League. He is currently trying to lead his team to its second consecutive Texas League Championship.

Christenson is in his second year as manager at Midland. He managed for the A’s minor league teams in Beloit and Stockton before being promoted to the Double-A RockHounds.

Christenson spent parts of six seasons in the Major Leagues with most of his games being played for the Oakland Athletics. He also spent time with Arizona, Milwaukee and Texas.

It’s official: Coco goes to back to Cleveland for minor league pitcher

coco hair

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Coco Crisp era in Oakland has come to an end. The A’s and the Cleveland Indians have reached an agreement on a trade that sends Crisp back to his original major league team.

In return, the Athletics will receive minor league left-handed pitcher Colt Hynes.

Cleveland has been looking for outfield help since Michael Brantley went out for the rest of the season due to surgery on his right biceps. The Indians have been using a group of five players to platoon against right-handed and left-handed pitching. The switch-hitting Crisp can be used in all situations.

The Indians will lose one of the outfielders they are using in post-season play. Abraham Almonte is not eligible for the post-season because he was suspended for the first 81 games of the season due to a positive test for a performance-enhancing substance. He is not allowed to participate in the post-season as a part of his punishment.

Crisp gives the Indians a player with post-season experience. He has participated in divisional and championship play with Boston and Oakland. Crisp was also a member of the 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox team.

Crisp was batting .234 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI in 102 games for the A’s this season. He leads the majors with a .424 batting average with runners in scoring position. Crisp can play all three outfield positions.

Crisp had recently expressed his unhappiness with the A’s over the way he was being used as a player. Crisp has an incentive based $13-million contract for 2017 that would automatically vest if he plays 130 or more games this season. He felt the A’s were deliberately platooning him in the outfield to avoid having the final year of the contract go into force.

LHP Colt Hynes has been well traveled this year. He started the season with the Toronto organization and was traded to Cleveland on August 3rd. Hynes has pitched at the Double-A and Triple-A level this year with a combined record of 3-1 with two saves and an ERA of 3.99 in 38 relief appearances. He has pitched in the Major Leagues for San Diego and Toronto.

Infielder Joey Wendle has been recalled from Triple-A Nashville to take Crisp’s place on the roster. He was battling .279 with 12 home runs and 61 RBI for the Sounds. Wendle came to the A’s from Cleveland in 2014 as part of the Brandon Moss trade

A’s Update: the clubhouse fight; Butler to DL; both players fined

Butler Valencia

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The details are now coming out on the clubhouse fight between Billy Butler and Danny Valencia on Friday night in Chicago. Apparently, it was just as advertised. Butler told a shoe representative that Valencia was not wearing the brand named spikes in games that he is paid to wear, and Valencia took exception to Butler involving himself in his endorsement deals.

The situation deteriorated and yelling turned into a fight. Reports have Butler taking a punch off the side of his head that has now brought on concussion like symptoms. Butler was kept out of all three games in Chicago over the weekend. He would normally have been the Designated Hitter on Saturday and Sunday against left-handed starting pitchers.

The bottom line is that it appears Butler was stepping in on Valencia’s business and possibly affecting Valencia financially. Players get paid for wearing certain shoes, gloves, batting gloves, etc. As with most people, Valencia did not appreciate someone messing with his money. Does that make hitting a man on the side of his head and possibly giving him a concussion justified? No, of course not, but it does become more understandable.

A’s general manager David Forst told the media prior to the Cleveland game on Monday that both players have been fined undisclosed amounts. Forst said nothing about suspensions for the players which means none are probably forthcoming.

Butler has been placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list which means he will have to pass testing and be cleared by MLB before returning to play, so seven days off is a minimum. Infielder Arismendy Alcantara has been recalled from Triple-A Nashville to take Butler’s place on the roster.

Valencia is not in the lineup for the Monday night game with Cleveland but the Indians are are starting a right-hander on the mound for game one.

This situation is just another pothole on what has been a very rough road that has been the A’s 2016 season. Flare ups happen in every major league locker room and most go unreported because they end without injury. In this case, the flare up became a case of unacceptable workplace violence. Both players are very lucky they are highly paid athletes and not a couple of analyst working side-by-side in cubicles. If they were analyst, they would be unemployed tonight.

A’s Update: Pinder promoted; Doolittle and Hahn pitch in Nashville; Lowrie to have surgery; Chapman to Triple-A

New Athletics infielder Chad Pinder
New Athletics infielder Chad Pinder

 

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Doolittle throws nine pitches to get three outs

On Monday in Nashville, the A’s left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle made a rehab appearance for the Triple-A Sounds. It was his first competitive pitching opportunity since going on the disabled list on June 30 – retroactive to June 26 – with a left shoulder strain.

Doolittle pitched the eighth inning against the Reno Aces. He struck out the lead off batter. IIdemaro Vargas – the second man up – hit a double to left field. The third hitter – Ed Lucas – grounded out to first but Vargas advanced to third with two out. Doolitte then induced Zach Borenstein to ground out to second for the final out of the inning.

Doolittle worked one inning and gave up no runs on one hit. He threw nine pitches of which eight were strikes. Doolittle had one strikeout and two groundouts to retire the side.

The plan is for Doolittle to pitch at least once more in Nashville before rejoining the A’s. The target is for him to come off the disabled list and be available for the Cleveland series that begins next Monday night in Oakland.

Jesse Hahn performs well in rehab start

A’s right-handed starting pitcher Jesse Hahn made a rehab start in Nashville on Tuesday. It was his first game experience since going on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain on August 5.

Hahn set the tone of the night by sitting the Tacoma Rainiers down in order in the top of the first inning. In the second inning, Hahn faced seven batters and gave up a run. He settled down in the third inning getting three consecutive outs after allowing a lead-off walk. In his fourth and final inning, Hahn sat the side down in order once again.

Hahn threw 79 pitches in his four innings of work. Hahn was most likely on target to throw approximately 80 pitches. Of his 79 pitches, 40 were strikes. He faced 17 batters in his four innings of work. Hahn was able to get five of those batters to groundout and one to flyout.

The plan for Hahn -assuming he feels well after resting up from the start – is to travel to Chicago and meet up with the A’s. He can come off the disabled list on August 21, so Hahn could start the final game of the series with the White Sox in Chicago.

The season is over for Jed Lowrie

Infielder Jed Lowrie and the Athletics have decided that he should go ahead with surgery to remove a bunion from his big toe on the left foot. Lowrie had tried to play through the injury but finally had to be shutdown in early August.

According to reports, Lowrie received several different medical opinions before deciding on season-ending surgery. The recovery – rehabilitation time is approximately three months.

Lowrie played 87 games this season and hit .263  with 12 doubles, one triple, 2 home runs and 27 rbi. He is signed through 2017 so Lowrie will return to the team next season.

Lowrie is currently on the 15-day disabled list. He will probably be transferred to the 60-day disabled list which will allow the A’s to make some moves with the 40-man roster.

Chad Pinder moves up to the show

The Oakland Athletics have promoted Chad Pinder from Triple-A Nashville to the big club as they have placed infielder Tyler Ladendorf on the 15-day disabled list. Ladendorf has a sprained left wrist. Ladendorf was batting .083 with .102 on base percentage.

In order to make this move, the A’s transferred Jed Lowrie to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster for Pinder. Lowrie is out for the rest of the season and will soon have surgery on his left big toe.

Pinder also gives the A’s some flexibility in the infield that they are going to need very soon. Starting shortstop Marcus Semien is about to go on maternity leave and the A’s will need someone to fill in at the number six spot. Pinder is a shortstop who was moved to that position last year from second base.

Pinder is a 6-foot-2, 195 pound, 24 year-old who was drafted 79th overall in 2013 by Oakland out of Virginia Tech. He has progressed each year to the next higher level of the farm system for the last four years.

Pinder has played in 107 games for Nashville this season and has a .258 batting average, a .310 on base percentage and .425 slugging percentage. He has hit 23 doubles, three triples, 14 home runs and has driven in 51 runs.

The Athletics have now used the disabled list a record-breaking 26 times this season eclipsing the old mark of 25 times set in 2008.

Matt Chapman gets promoted

Last week, third baseman Matt Chapman batted .318 with .424 on base percentage and an .864 slugging percentage going 7-for-22 in six games for the Midland RockHounds. Chapman hit three doubles, three home runs, drove in eight runs and scored five runs. He was named the Texas League Offensive Player of the Week.

As a reward for his great week, the A’s told Chapman to pack his bags and get out of town. The 2014 first-round draft pick has been promoted to Triple-A Nashville. That means Chapman has gone from the Rookie League to Triple-A in less than three years. That is very impressive indeed.

Many prognosticators are projecting that by next season Matt Chapman and Ryon Healy will be the corner infielders for the Oakland A’s. Who will be at third and who will be at first? That is still to be determined, but the A’s may have found a power hitting duo that will lead their youth movement for years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

Call the MASH Unit: Sonny Gray to the Disabled List

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Oakland Athletics
Sonny Gray pitching against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. Photo Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY

by Charlie O. Mallonee

OAKLAND–As if the Oakland Athletics did not have enough problems to deal with already, their number one pitcher – Sonny Gray – is headed back to the 15-day disabled list for the second time this season. Gray strained his right forearm in the game versus the Cubs on Saturday in Oakland.

Gray is 5-11 with a 5.74 ERA on the season. Opposing batters are hitting .286 against Gray in his 21 starts. Gray has the highest ERA in the majors and is tied for third in the American League in losses.

The A’s turn to the Nashville connection once again to fill Gray’s spot on the roster. Right-handed pitcher Chris Smith has been promoted from the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Smith, catcher Josh Phegley was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

Smith has spent the entire season at Nashville. He has a 6-8 record with a 3.93 ERA and .239 batting average against in 22 starts. Smith is 35-years old and will be returning to the majors for the first time since 2010 when he made three relief appearances for Milwaukee. He was a non-roster invitee to spring training this year and accepted an assignment to Triple-A.

Top pitching prospect from Reddick trade makes first start for Nashville

 

Nashville Logoby Charlie O. Mallonee

Right-hand pitcher Jharel Cotton was traded to the Oakland Athletics as a part of the trade deadline deal that sent outfielder Josh Reddick and pitcher Rich Hill to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cotton – who is on the 40-man roster- was assigned to to the A’s Triple-A affiliate in Nashville.

Cotton made his first start for Nashville on Thursday night in Colorado Springs where the ball flies just like it does at Coors Field due to the altitude. It is certainly not a pitcher friendly park.

Cotton – who has an above average four-seam fastball and change up – took the mound and worked six strong innings. He gave up just one run (earned) on six hits. Cotton struck out five Sky Sox batters and walked just one. He did allow one home run.

Cotton faced 24 batters in his six innings of work. He induced the opposing hitters into four groundouts and seven flyouts. Cotton threw 95 pitches (60 strikes).

When Cotton exited the game at the end of six innings, the Sounds led the Sky Sox 4-1. The Sounds would hang on to win the game 5-4. Cotton was credited with the win and his record improves to 9-5 on the season with a 4.70 ERA.

In the reordering of the A’s top prospects after the trades, Cotton is considered to be the 16th best prospect out of Oakland’s top 30 farm hands. With the A’s struggling to find pitchers to fill the back end of the starting rotation, Cotton could be a candidate to join the big club for a tryout start. If he continues to have success, Cotton certainly would a September call up candidate when the rosters can be expanded.

Third baseman Renato Nunez – rated the A’s sixth best prospect – played a big part in the Sounds victory last night in Colorado Springs. Nunez hit a two-run double (17) in the top of the second inning to give Nashville a 2-0 lead.

Nunez struck again in the top of the fourth inning when he hit a two-run home run off starting pitcher Hiram Burgos. It was the 18th home run of the season for Nunez. The four RBI in the game increased his total to 61 for the season.

Nunez certainly has the power numbers (17 doubles, 2 triples, 18 home runs) but the A’s would certainly like to see him raise his batting average the current .229. He has minor league career batting average of .267.

There was one other player of interest to Northern California fans playing in the game last night. Former Giant/Sacramento River Cat and Roseville resident, catcher Andrew Susac – who was traded to the Milwaukee organization – played for the Sky Sox and went 1-for-5.

Right-handed pitcher Grant Holmes – who was acquired as a part of the Reddick/Hill trade –  will make his first start for the A’s high Class-A team – Stockton Ports – in San Jose tonight. Sports Radio Service will report on that game in our Saturday edition.