Athletics

A's lineup: Crisp returns

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A's lineup: Crisp returns

Programming note: Toronto-A's coverage begins tonight at 6:30 p.m. with A's Pregame Live, and baseball follows from Oakland on Comcast SportsNet California!

OAKLAND -- The A's may not have made a deadline deal but they are still shaking up their roster. Multiple sources say that Dan Straily is joining the A's and starting on Friday in place of Travis Blackley. The A's likely won't announce the move until Friday prior to his start but Blackley is already listed among relievers on the lineup card.The A's also recalled infielder Adam Rosales and optioned shortstop Brandon Hicks to Triple-A. This will be Rosales' third time with A's this season. He is batting .167 in 13 games in Oakland with a .394 on-base percentage. He was hitting .280 in Sacramento with eight homers, 47 RBIs and 26 walks.Brandon Hicks hit a game-tying homer that helped the A's win a 15-inning contest against the Rays on Monday, but badly misplayed a ball that lead to a run in Tuesday's 8-0 loss to Tampa Bay. He hit .183 in Oakland with his first three career homers in 20 games.In other noteworthy news, Coco Crisp who has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury is back in the starting lineup.Oakland Athletics (56-48) lineupCoco Crisp, CF
Seth Smith, DH
Josh Reddick, RF
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Brandon Moss, 1B
Brandon Inge, 3B
George Kottaras, C
Adam Rosales, SS
Eric Sogard, 2B
Instant AnalysisCoco Crisp's return to the lineup should provide a spark for an A's team that scored just six runs total over the four games he missed. The fact he is starting in center field is a very good sign that he has recovered from the hamstring issue that held him out.Eric Sogard is starting at second base for Jemile Weeks who has been struggling a little offensively and defensively. The A's likely chose to keep Sogard instead of Hicks because he is more versatile in the field. Rosales' addition might be a temporary one because Cliff Pennington is taking batting practice on the field and then likely starting a rehab assignment on Friday. In case you are wondering that is just one reason why Grant Green wasn't called up.Top of the OrderThe A's were 16-2 in July with Crisp atop the lineup. The veteran center fielder caught fire last month hitting .342 with three homers, two doubles, two triples, 11 runs scored.Heart of the OrderJosh Reddick is struggling lately offensively. He is stuck in an 0 for 21 slump since crashing into the wall in Baltimore. The A's say there is no reason for concern regarding Reddick's issues at the plate.Brandon Inge has an A's season-high 11-game hitting streak. He has been a steady source of RBIs since the A's acquired him. In his 54 hits with the A's Inge has 47 RBIs.Bottom of the OrderGeorge Kottaras is back in the lineup. The left-handed catcher will be used primarily in a platoon role with Kurt Suzuki. Expect to see Kottaras starting most times there is a right-handed pitcher on the mound. He went 1 for 3 in his A's debut. Catching Bartolo Colon should be a simple task. All the throws are fastballs. Starting PitchersColon (7-8, 3.78 ERA) will begin the four-game home series with the Jays. He will be making his 21st start of the season. Colon's 2.65 ERA in July was the 10th lowest in the American League that month.The Blue Jays will be sending Henderson Alvarez (7-7, 4.43) to the mound. Alvarez is 0-1 in his career against the A's with a 3.09 ERA in 11.2 innings.

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

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AP

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

OAKLANDThe Oakland A’s named Matt Williams as third base coach on Bob Melvin’s coaching staff for the 2018 season, the club announced today.

Williams spent five seasons on the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff as first base coach (2010) and third base coach (2011-13, 16) and also managed the Washington Nationals for two seasons.  He was named National League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA in his first season as manager in 2014, guiding the Nationals to a 96-66 record and an NL East title.  He went 83-79 in 2015 for a 179-145 (.552) record in two seasons as manager.

Williams played 17 seasons in the majors with San Francisco (1987-96), Cleveland (1997) and Arizona (1998-2003).  He was a .268 career hitter with 378 home runs and 1218 RBI in 1866 games.  Williams was a five-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves as a third baseman.

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Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

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AP

Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

The A’s wasted no time making their first major move of the offseason, and it has a domino effect on how their 2018 lineup will take shape.

The trade of young slugger Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday paves the way for left fielder Khris Davis to start getting heavy at-bats as the designated hitter, the spot left vacant by Healy.

It also points to another move the A’s want to pull off — acquiring a right-handed hitting corner outfielder who presumably can eat up those defensive innings that Davis spends as the DH.

It’s a series of moves that isn’t all that surprising given the A’s roster makeup right now. Healy, who hit .282 with 38 homers in 221 games over his first two big league seasons, is capable of playing either first or third base. But Matt Olson and Matt Chapman secured those spots, respectively, with their solid showings as rookies last season.

“We’ve obviously talked a lot since the end of the season about adding to the bullpen,” A’s general manager David Forst said on a conference call Wednesday night. “At the same time, with the emergence of Matt and Matt, on the corners, maybe Ryon needed to be somebody we might have to move ...”

It makes sense for Oakland to find a way to shift Davis from being the everyday left fielder while still keeping his 40-homer bat in the lineup. Opponents have routinely taken extra bases the past two seasons on Davis’ throwing arm, and whether they add a newcomer to play left or shift Joyce or someone else there, chances are they can benefit from better defense in left.

The A’s also feel they got an important chip back from Seattle to help bolster a bullpen that ranked 13th in the American League last season with a 4.57 ERA. They received right-hander Emilio Pagan (along with minor league shortstop Alexander Campos), and figure that the 26-year-old Pagan is someone the A’s have pegged to be an immediate contributor in their ‘pen.

A 10th round draft pick in 2013, Pagan made his big league debut in 2017 and posted a 3.22 ERA over 34 games spread over four stints with Seattle. He endured a rocky first couple of outings but, after being called up for good in the second half, eventually worked his way into a late-inning setup role. Pagan struck out 56 and walked just eight in 50 1/3 innings, numbers that surely popped out to Oakland’s front office.

He’ll likely be called upon in middle relief to help set the table for Chris Hatcher and closer Blake Treinen, as the bullpen currently looks.

Campos, just 17, spent this past season in the Dominican Summer League, and Forst said the A’s were eyeing Campos last summer when they eventually traded Yonder Alonso to the Mariners. Oakland wound up getting center fielder Boog Powell back in that deal.

Did the A’s rake in enough for Healy? As with all trades, it will take time to judge. But it’s fair to say that Healy’s departure will be felt in a clubhouse that is characterized by the emergence of many young position players, and he was a part of that group. In fact, when Healy was called up in July 2016 — knocking Danny Valencia out as the regular third baseman — he became the first of several promising position-player prospects to establish himself in Oakland’s lineup.

He rented a house in the East Bay and eventually took in Chapman, Olson and Chad Pinder as roommates. There’s a fiery side to Healy’s on-field personality that was a positive for the A’s, and watching him play Oakland as a member of an AL West rival will make for entertaining theatre.

Another storyline is how Davis takes to being a regular DH. Forst praised Davis’ approach to his game and doesn’t anticipate any problems, adding that the A’s still want to get Davis some time in the outfield.