Athletics

Hill's blister leaves mystery as trade deadline approaches

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Hill's blister leaves mystery as trade deadline approaches

OAKLAND — The A’s aren’t sure when Rich Hill will make his next start after a blister on his throwing hand opened up again and forced him from Sunday’s start on his very first batter.

That leaves things in a very murky state as the A’s weigh whether to trade their veteran left-hander, and whether potentially interested teams will still be willing to shell out a strong return package for him.

Hill felt the blister open after a 3-1 fastball to Toronto leadoff man Devon Travis in the top of the first of the A’s eventual 5-3 loss.

“It opened up pretty good. I just felt it on the fastball,” Hill said. “I looked down and there was bleeding. … I didn’t want to put the bullpen in that position to have to cover the entire game.”

Hill said it would likely take three or four days for the blister to start to heal before he can try throwing again. Depending on when he does play catch, and assuming he will require a bullpen session shortly after that, it’s quite possible he’d make just one more start before contending teams had to decide whether to pull the trigger on a trade before the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said he didn’t have a read on when Hill might get back on the mound, nor was Melvin ready to announce a Tuesday starter after Sean Manaea was pressed into emergency duty Sunday. Andrew Triggs relieved Hill but quickly exited the game himself after a comebacker off the bat of Josh Donaldson left him with a left calf contusion. Manaea entered to start the second and gave the A’s five innings of two-run ball over 69 pitches.

Dillon Overton is scheduled to pitch Monday for Triple-A Nashville but could be an option for the A’s on Tuesday against Houston. It seems unlikely that Triggs, usually the long man in Oakland’s bullpen, will be ready to go by Tuesday. The A’s just acquired left-hander Ross Detwiler from Cleveland and are sending him to Nashville. He’d need to be added to the 40-man roster in order to pitch Tuesday.

Hill’s blister on his left middle finger originally surfaced after his final start before the All-Star break. He was slated to pitch Friday but the A’s pushed him back to Sunday. He did throw off the mound Friday and said he was perfectly ready to go following that session. He said he’s dealt with blisters before but never one like this that’s been a recurring issue.

Reliever John Axford, who took the loss Sunday, said he could understand how a blister that forms in the wrong place could hinder Hill.

“I can’t really attest to Rich, but I know he’s got the big curve ball and really has to use his fingers as much as he can to get the spin he does,” Axford said.

One scout who was asked about the situation Sunday said he still expected teams to go after Hill even if he wasn’t ready to pitch by Aug. 1. But the question is whether Hill still commands the same return he would get at full strength, considering he’s probably the top starter available this trade season.

Former A's pitcher Bartolo Colon throws to kids in Dominican Republic

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Former A's pitcher Bartolo Colon throws to kids in Dominican Republic

Sorry Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds and Mike Trout.

But Bartolo Colon is the greatest baseball player ever.

Colon is an absolute legend. He pitched last season with the Texas Rangers at the age of 45, and he probably wanted to keep pitching this season, but no team signed him.

So what better way to scratch the pitching itch than to crash some kids' pick-up baseball game and throw heat by the overmatched youngsters.

That's exactly what the former A's pitcher did this week, and he posted videos on his Instagram feed.

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Spending time in Los Rincones de Guananico

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Los rincones de Guananico

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But Big Sexy wasn't done. The very next day, Colon crashed another pick-up game.

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Eso es en los caño de maimon

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[RELATED: What are A's playoff chances?]

Can a major league team please sign Bartolo? He's a national treasure, and we deserve to watch him pitch for another 15 years.

AL wild-card race reset: Breaking down A's chances of making playoffs

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AL wild-card race reset: Breaking down A's chances of making playoffs

OAKLAND -- With just nine games left in the regular season, the A's are in a great position to lock up a playoff berth for the second consecutive year.

Oakland sits atop the AL wild-card standings at 92-61, two games ahead of Tampa Bay and 2 1/2 games in front of Cleveland. The A's also have the easiest remaining schedule of the three clubs.

Here's a breakdown of each team's final three series and their odds to make the playoffs:

A's: 92-61 (9 games remaining)

3 vs. Rangers (74-79)
2 at Angels (69-83)
4 at Mariners (64-88)

Oakland will play its final nine games of the regular season against sub-.500 AL West opponents. With a magic number of eight to clinch the top-wild card position, the A's likely only need to win five of the nine games. A 6-3 record would just about guarantee them the top spot.

According to FanGraphs, the A's have a 96.3 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Rays: 90-63 (9 games remaining)

4 vs. Red Sox (79-72)
2 vs. Yankees (99-54)
3 at Blue Jays (61-91)

The Rays have the most difficult remaining schedule of the three wild-card contenders, with six games against the Red Sox and Yankees. New York still has something to play for as they try to beat out Houston for home-field advantage, while Boston's lineup is always dangerous.

FanGraphs gives Tampa Bay a 59.9 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Indians: 89-63 (10 games remaining)

1 vs. Tigers (45-106)
3 vs. Phillies (78-72)
3 at White Sox (66-86)
3 at Nationals (83-68)

The Indians have two tough series remaining as they battle the Phillies and Nationals from the NL East. Washington currently leads the NL wild-card race, while Philadelphia is three games out of the second spot.

According to FanGraphs, Cleveland has a 44.0 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Tiebreakers

The A's own tiebreakers against both the Rays and Indians, having won the season series against each club. That means, in the case of a two-team tie between the A's and either Tampa Bay or Cleveland, Oakland would still host the Wild Card Game.

[RELATED: Red-hot A's have work to do to attract fans]

It gets more complicated if all three teams tie for the two wild-card positions. The A's still own the tiebreaker, so they would host the Rays, with the winner earning the top wild-card spot. The Indians would then host the loser, with the winner of that game claiming the second wild-card position.

Of course, if the A's handle their business, it won't come down to tiebreakers.