Athletics

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.

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.