Athletics

Ex-A's reliever Shawn Kelley has no hard feelings toward former team

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AP

Ex-A's reliever Shawn Kelley has no hard feelings toward former team

OAKLAND -- After Shawn Kelley's stellar stretch run with the A's last season, it seemed likely he would return to Oakland as a free agent.

The 34-year-old right-hander appeared in 19 games last August and September, registering a 2.16 ERA and 0.78 WHIP, with 18 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings. But while there was initially mutual interest in a reunion, the A's decided to go in a different direction and Kelley signed a one-year, $2.75 million contract with the Texas Rangers.

"We talked from the very end of (the season) about getting something done," Kelley told NBC Sports California. "I think when they got (Joakim) Soria and gave him that money (two years, $15 million), my agent called right away because we were kind of worried. We had been talking to (A's general manager David) Forst. Both sides were like, 'Yeah, let's get something done.' When Soria signed, we kind of saw the writing on the wall. And then (Forst) wished me luck in whatever decision I made. He said, 'We spent a little on a couple of guys and so we wish you the best and thanks for everything you did coming over, but we're out of money.'"

Kelley says he carries no hard feelings toward his former squad, as he understands the business side of baseball. He still has a great relationship with his old teammates and manager.

"I talked to all the guys when they came to Texas and I talked to them (Tuesday)," Kelley said. "I went over and gave BoMel a big hug and told him, 'Man, I'm sorry. I wanted to be here. It just didn't work out.' That's part of it. It wasn't for a lack of effort. There was obviously genuine interest from me and definitely some genuine interest from their side. Things just go different ways sometimes in free agency."

Kelley has carried last year's success into this season with the Rangers. He is already 3-0 with a save and a 1.80 ERA, as well as a 0.80 WHIP. He has notched nine strikeouts in 10 innings without issuing a single walk.

"It's been great," Kelley said. "It's a good group. It kind of reminds me of what we had over there last year (with the A's), as far as a good mix of young guys with some veterans, a lot of energy, and a lot of will to not give in and keep fighting. It's been a good experience."

Kelley is extremely thankful for the opportunity the A's gave him last season, especially after the Nationals let him go following his now infamous -- and probably overblown -- glove-slamming incident. He believes his time in Oakland rejuvenated his career.

[RELATED: Versatile Pinder forcing way into everyday starting role]

"I had fun when I went over there and saw a renewed energy and passion for just going out and having fun and enjoying it, and it not feeling like work every day," Kelley said. "It was a great experience. I loved it."

For now, Kelley is happy to be a Texas Ranger, although he doesn't rule out a return to Oakland down the road.

"Hey, you never know," he smiled. "One day, I may be back."

A's vs. Indians lineups: Khris Davis out again to begin Cleveland series

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USATSI

A's vs. Indians lineups: Khris Davis out again to begin Cleveland series

The A's carry a three-game winning streak into Cleveland as they open a three-game series with the Indians on Monday.

Oakland will once again be without designated hitter Khris Davis, who has been battling a left hip contusion since crashing into the left-field side wall in Pittsburgh more than two weeks ago. The 31-year-old missed Saturday's game in Detroit before returning to the lineup on Sunday and going 1-for-4.

Davis' swing has clearly been affected by the hip ailment, as he is failing to generate the same torque we're used to seeing. He has also noticeably grimaced on multiple occasions.

Mark Canha will fill in as the A's DH and bat sixth in the lineup. Stephen Piscotty moves up to the cleanup spot and Jurickson Profar will bat fifth.

Left-hander Brett Anderson takes the hill for Oakland, looking for his fifth win of the season. He has found previous success against the Indians, going 3-0 with a 0.82 ERA and 0.76 WHIP in five career starts.

Cleveland will counter with right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who has had his own success against the A's. In six career starts against Oakland, Carrasco is 4-1 with a 2.89 ERA and 0.84 WHIP. 

[RELATED: Piscotty proving he's A's X-factor]

Here are the full lineups for the A's-Indians game, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports California and the MyTeams app. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. PT, with first pitch at 3:10. 

Oakland A's (22-25)

Marcus Semien, SS
Matt Chapman, 3B 
Matt Olson, 1B 
Stephen Piscotty, RF 
Jurickson Profar, 2B 
Mark Canha, DH
Robbie Grossman, LF 
Ramón Laureano, CF 
Josh Phegley, C

Brett Anderson, LHP (4-3, 4.41 ERA)

Cleveland Indians (25-20)

Francisco Lindor, SS
Jason Kipnis, 2B
Carlos Santana, 1B
Jordan Luplow, RF
José Ramírez, 3B
Roberto Pérez, C
Carlos González, DH
Oscar Mercado, LF
Leonys Martin, CF

Carlos Carrasco, RHP (4-3, 4.18 ERA)

Stephen Piscotty proving he's A's X-factor, despite power-bat surroundings

Stephen Piscotty proving he's A's X-factor, despite power-bat surroundings

While sluggers like Khris Davis, Matt Chapman, and Matt Olson garner most of the attention in the A's lineup, manager Bob Melvin has often said that Stephen Piscotty is truly the X-factor.

After a somewhat pedestrian start to the season, Piscotty is beginning to heat up, and that is great news for the A's. The 28-year-old went 2-for-4 with three RBI on Sunday in Detroit, including the go-ahead two-run double in the seventh inning to give Oakland a 5-3 lead in a game suspended by rain.

Piscotty has now reached base safely in 15 consecutive games and has gone 8-for-18 with three doubles and four walks in his last five contests.

"I feel like, while I'm not at my best, I've still been able to operate and have some good at-bats," Piscotty told reporters Sunday. "Still a little bit of work to go, but I'm seeing the ball well. I was able to get a couple of walks the other day. That's big for me. That's a good sign that I'm seeing the ball well."

When Piscotty is at his best, he adds much-needed length to the Oakland lineup. He can be a serious power threat in the fifth or sixth spot in the order, as he showed last year, belting a career-high 27 home runs, 41 doubles, and 88 RBI.

For the season, Piscotty is now slashing .263/.337/.409 with five homers and 22 RBI. Last year, he got off to an even slower start than he did this season, hitting just .227/.286/.349 through the month of May.

Piscotty caught fire midway through the season and that's when the A's really took off last year. He amassed 24 home runs from June through September, ranking near the top of the league. If Piscotty can pick up the power in a similar way this year, the A's will take their production to another level.

[RELATED: A's starting pitching beginning to turn around]

To really understand Piscotty's value in the lineup, just look his offensive numbers in wins versus losses. In A's victories this season, Piscotty is slashing .337/.383/.523. That line falls to .188/.291/.292 in Oakland's defeats.

The A's hope Piscotty's recent success marks the start of an extended hot streak into the All-Star break and beyond. His bat makes Oakland's lineup nearly impossible for pitchers to navigate, with dangerous hitters lurking from top to bottom.