Athletics

Former Athletic Tony Phillips passes away at 56

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Former Athletic Tony Phillips passes away at 56

MESA, Ariz. -- Former A's infielder Tony Phillips died Wednesday in Arizona at age 56, the team announced in a statement Friday.

Phillips is the third member of Oakland's 1989 World Series championship team to pass away in less than two years. Pitcher Bob Welch died in June 2014 after an accidental fall in his bathroom, and outfielder Dave Henderson suffered a fatal heart attack in December. Both were 57. 

There was no immediate word on Phillips' cause of death, but the news was a somber note on the eve of the A's beginning spring training in Mesa. 

“The Oakland A’s lost another member of our family this week with the unexpected passing of Tony Phillips,” A's president Michael Crowley said in a statement. “We all have fond memories of Tony making the final play in the A’s 1989 World Series. He was a remarkable player. Our thoughts are with his family.”

Phillips made his Major League debut with the A’s in 1982 and spent eight seasons with Oakland through 1989. He followed that with a five-year stay with Detroit from 1990-94 and also played for California (1995), Chicago-AL (1996-97), Anaheim (1997), Toronto (1998) and New York-NL (1998) before concluding his career with the A’s in 1999. Phillips hit .266 with 160 home runs and 819 RBI in 2161 career games.

He was a member of the A’s 1989 World Series Champions as a valuable utility player who played every position except pitcher and catcher in his career. Phillips batted a career-high .313 with Detroit in 1993 and hit a career-high 27 home runs with the Angels in 1995.

Oakland A's media services contributed to this report

Breaking down A's second baseman situation for this season, future

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Breaking down A's second baseman situation for this season, future

OAKLAND -- When the A's acquired Jurickson Profar from the Texas Rangers this past offseason, they were hoping he would step in to replace the production of Jed Lowrie from last year. Unfortunately, he hasn't come anywhere near doing that.

Profar, 26, has struggled all season, both with his bat and his glove. Offensively, he is slashing a meager .205/.268/.382. Defensively, he has committed 12 errors, tied for the most among major-league second basemen.

Partly due to Profar's struggles, the A's gave former top prospect Franklin Barreto a chance to earn the starting second baseman job last month, but the 23-year-old found even less success than Profar at the plate. Barreto hit just .106/.125/.255 with 18 strikeouts in 48 plate appearances, ultimately getting sent back down to Triple-A Las Vegas.

Now with just a month and a half remaining in the regular season, the job appears to belong to unheralded 30-year-old Corban Joseph. Oakland selected Joseph's contract from Triple-A on Wednesday and he has started four straight games at second base.

"We're just trying to do the best we can with the position with a guy who's swinging a hot bat and has been the entire year," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Joseph. "When you have that kind of year and we're maybe not getting as much production as we want out of that position, you look somewhere else."

Melvin confirmed that Joseph, a left-handed hitter, will get the majority of playing time at second base, particularly against right-handed pitchers. That means Profar has once again been relegated to a backup role.

At this point, it seems highly unlikely that the A's will bring Profar back next season. He is earning $3.6 million this season and figures to get a similar salary in arbitration next year. Oakland could try to trade him this offseason or simply non-tender him.

The A's do have some talented young prospects waiting in the wings, in addition to Joseph. Barreto remains a possibility, though his value has certainly dropped a bit over the past few years. Another option is Jorge Mateo, whom the A's acquired from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray trade.

Mateo, 24, is having a productive year in Triple-A, slashing .297/.336/.524 with 17 home runs, 14 triples, 26 doubles, and 22 stolen bases. His elite speed makes him a highly-regarded prospect, ranked fourth in the A's system by MLB Pipeline.

Sheldon Neuse could potentially be another candidate beginning next season. The 24-year-old is primarily a corner infielder, but he has played seven games at second base this year for Triple-A Las Vegas and nine games at shortstop.

[RELATED: Khris Davis was once an underrated prospect]

Neuse is slashing an impressive .320/.389/.546 with 23 home runs and 92 RBI. He is ranked as Oakland's eighth-best prospect.

In the meantime, Joseph has a golden opportunity to take control of the starting second baseman job for the remainder of the season. And who knows, if he performs well down the stretch, he could earn the role for next year too.

A's vs. Astros lineups: Josh Phegley returns, Khris Davis bats seventh

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A's vs. Astros lineups: Josh Phegley returns, Khris Davis bats seventh

The A's have a quick turn around from the 3-2 walk-off win over the Houston Astros that Robbie Grossman delivered Friday night. The outfielder hit a single in the 13th inning and the team celebrated accordingly.

Saturday's game will be the third of the series against the 'Stros who have dropped the first two games of the four-game set. And the good news for the A's gets better as catcher Josh Phegley returns to the lineup after being on the injured list with a sore thumb.

The addition will have him hitting ninth, two spots after designated hitter Khris Davis who drops down two spots in the lineup.

The A's will send Chris Bassitt to the mound to face Rogelio Armenteros who was promoted from Triple-A Round Rock to get the start in place of injured Gerrit Cole. The right-hander is 5-6 with a 5.05 ERA in Triple-A

Here are how the lineups look to shape up for the Astros-A's game. Coverage will be on FOX Sports 1. You can also follow in-game, here.

Houston Astros (78-45)
George Springer, RF
Jose Altuve, 2B
Michael Brantley, LF
Alex Bregman, 3B
Yordan Alvarez, DH
Carlos Correa, SS
Yuli Gurriel, 1B
Martin Maldonado, C
Jake Marisnick, CF
Rogelio Armenteros, P (1-0, 1.93 ERA)

Oakland A's (70-52)
Marcus Semien, SS
Robbie Grossman, LF
Matt Chapman, 3B
Matt Olson, 1B
Mark Canha, CF
Stephen Piscotty, RF
Khris Davis, DH
Corban Joseph, 2B
Josh Phegley, C
Chris Bassitt, P (8-5, 3.56ERA)