Plouffe, A's showing some power potential in the early going

Plouffe, A's showing some power potential in the early going

OAKLAND — The individual honor belonged to Trevor Plouffe on Friday night, and he had the keepsake to prove it.

The ball he hit for career homer No. 100 was safely in his possession following the A’s 3-1 victory over Seattle that extended their winning streak to four.

However, what the A’s are doing as a team in the power department is the big-picture takeaway, after a game in which Oakland mustered just six hits but had Plouffe and Yonder Alonso clear the fence to help provide Sean Manaea his first win of the season.

“I really don’t take a whole lot of stock in personal stats, especially during the year,” Plouffe said. “But 100 is cool. It was nice that it helped us win this game.”

Last year, Khris Davis hit 42 homers and Marcus Semien 27 to lead the A’s. But the team finished 12th in the American League with 169 long balls on the season. That contributed to the A’s finishing dead last in the league in runs, as did a dreadful showing in on-base percentage.

It’s dangerous to put too much trust in April numbers. But their 22 home runs are currently tied for third in the AL, and that’s important for a team that has just one player, Davis, who can be classified as a pure slugger.

“We’ve talked about, when we’re good, and what we feel is good offensively for us, is the length of the lineup,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Multiple guys can hit homers.”

Granted, this doesn’t look like a lineup that will light up the scoreboard. The A’s are going to win more games by 3-2 scores than 9-8. But so far they’ve shown themselves to be a team that can get contributions up and down the order.

One of those players lately is Plouffe, who has homered four times in his past seven games. In his first year with the A’s after signing a one-year deal this winter, Plouffe has had a rough go of it outside of his recent power surge. He’s hitting .222 and has struck out 22 times in 16 games. That includes a three-strikeout game Thursday, though he capped that night with a three-run homer in the A’s 9-6 win.

“I’m definitely not where I want it to be,” he said. “I’m still swinging and missing too much. I’ve been able to put some good swings on the ball. I’m happy I stuck with it. I’ve had some 3 strikeout (games but) gotten some late hits. I’m happy with that because I’m not packing it in and calling it a day. When you’re struggling, it can be easy to give away at-bats.”

Consider Plouffe a key man for the A’s, especially with Semien expected to miss two-plus months with a fractured wrist. The A’s need a group effort in the power department to support Davis, who is tied for the league lead with seven homers. Plouffe, 30, is an eight-year veteran with two 20-plus homer season under his belt. That track record suggests he can be counted on for power — if he stays healthy. He played in just 84 games last year due to injuries to his ribs, oblique and hamstring.

Looking to avoid the disabled list, he put an emphasis on flexibility last winter.

“That was a major part of my offseason, was making sure I corrected a lot of things that plagued me last year,” Plouffe said.

On Friday night, he got to celebrate the A’s fourth straight victory as well as his own milestone homer.

“It’s a nice round number,” Plouffe said. “Ninety-nine looks cool, but 100 looks better.”

A's announce 2018 Opening Day starter


A's announce 2018 Opening Day starter

For the second straight season, Kendall Graveman will get the ball on Opening Day for the A's. And for the second straight year, he'll face Mike Trout and the Angels.

The team made the news official on Tuesday morning.

Last year, in a win over the Angels, Graveman went six innings, allowed two earned runs and struck out seven.

"It's something I don't take for granted. It's an honor and a privilege and [I just want to] try to get the season off to a good start and hopefully be a leader of this staff," Graveman told reporters Tuesday in Arizona.

In four seasons with the A's and Blue Jays, Graveman has a 4.11 ERA in 76 appearances.

A's agree to deal with familiar veteran pitcher


A's agree to deal with familiar veteran pitcher

UPDATE (Mar. 19, 7:45 p.m. PT): The A's officially announced the Cahill signing on Monday. This story has been updated to reflect that.

On the same day the Oakland A's learned they'd be without Jharel Cotton all season, they signed a familiar face to bolster their pitching depth. 

Oakland agreed to a one-year deal with Trevor Cahill, nearly 12 years after the A's drafted him in the second round. 

Cahill pitched for Oakland from 2009-11. He started 96 games in three seasons with the A's, going 40-35 with a 3.91 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. Since Oakland traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Dec. 2011, Cahill's pitched for six teams. 

The 30-year-old won a World Series ring with the Chicago Cubs in 2016, and pitched for the San Diego Padres and Kansas City Royals last season. In 2017, he went 4-3 in 21 appearances (14 starts) with a 4.93 ERA and 1.62 WHIP.