Athletics

A's Mark Canha, Ramon Laureano rip Rangers pitcher after tempers flare

A's Mark Canha, Ramon Laureano rip Rangers pitcher after tempers flare

OAKLAND -- The Rangers and A's don't seem to like each other very much.

Well, maybe we should clarify -- Adrian Sampson and the A's don't seem to like each other very much. Texas' starter took issue with Ramón Laureano after he hit Oakland's fourth home run of the night, nearly leading to both dugouts clearing (that would happen later on).

All of this dates back to June 8, when Sampson yelled at Mark Canha following a home run in Texas. Sampson also stepped on Laureano's bat that night. Laureano didn't forget.

"Do you remember when you stepped on my bat?" Laureano asked Sampson after his home run Saturday. "You can step on it again."

Canha didn't forget Sampson's antics from last month either.

"I feel like he should've known that he had that coming with his comments after the last game and his actions in the last game," Canha said. "This guy had a target on his back and we were kind of fired up to face him today and I think we made that clear."

The next time Laureano came to the plate was in the eighth inning against Rafael Montero. The Rangers reliever threw four straight pitches inside, plunking Laureano with the last one.

"It is what it is," Laureano said. "The pitching coach went out there two pitches before, so that's a little suspicious, but it is what it is."

That brought both dugouts and bullpens out onto the field, though no punches were thrown. Montero and Rangers manager Chris Woodward were both ejected from the game.

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Said Canha: "I just feel like we need to throw all (the unwritten rules) out the window and just play baseball and have fun."

The A's went on to win the game, 5-4, snapping a three-game losing streak. They will try to earn a series split with a victory in Sunday's finale. We'll see if there's any carryover from Saturday's fireworks.
 

MLB rumors: A's to call up top prospect A.J. Puk before Yankees series

MLB rumors: A's to call up top prospect A.J. Puk before Yankees series

The A's aren't messing around.

After taking three of four games from the Astros in a critical home series, Oakland is calling up one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. MLB.com's Martin Gallegos reported Monday morning that the A's are promoting A.J. Puk to the big leagues in time for their series in Oakland against the Yankees.

Puk, the A's No. 2 prospect behind fellow left-handed pitcher Jesus Luzardo, is expected to pitch out of the bullpen. The former first-round draft pick went 4-1 with a 4.91 ERA in nine appearances out of the bullpen for Triple-A Las Vegas.

His high ERA can be tricky, though.

The ball flies in Las Vegas and home runs are being hit at an unprecedented rate in the Pacific Coast League this season. Opposing batters hit just .175 off Puk in Triple-A and he struck out 16 batters in 11 innings while only issuing three walks.

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Adding the 6-foot-7 lefty should be a big boost to Oakland's bullpen. The A's, who are 1 1/2 games back of an AL wild-card spot, enter Monday with the sixth-best bullpen ERA in the majors at 4.01. The former Florida Gator is yet another weapon to close the door at the end of games. 

Puk, 24, underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2018. He figures to be a starter at the front of the rotation down the line, but for now, he'll look to come out of the 'pen and help push the A's to the playoffs once again.

'Gamer' Chad Pinder's versatility has been vital commodity for A's

'Gamer' Chad Pinder's versatility has been vital commodity for A's

OAKLAND -- There are utility players, there are super-utility players and then there's Chad Pinder.

It's not just that Pinder can play a lot of positions -- he's already played six this year -- it's that he plays them all with near Gold Glove-level proficiency.

"He's a baseball player," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "Wherever we put him, he's done really well. ... Not many guys are able to go out there defensively and play positions they're not used to and do as well as he has."

Pinder hasn't just earned the respect and admiration of his manager. Every single player in the A's clubhouse feels the same way.

"The guy's a gamer," starting pitcher Mike Fiers said. "No matter where you put him, he's going to play hard."

This season, Pinder has played every position except pitcher, catcher, and shortstop, though he has played 34 games at shortstop throughout his career. The 27-year-old has made highlight-reel plays at every one of those positions.

"I just like being out there," Pinder said. "Any opportunity I get to be out on the field, I want to be out there and just play baseball. It doesn't mean I'm not going to make mistakes. It doesn't mean I'm not going to have bad routes in the outfield. It doesn't mean I'm not going to make errors in the infield. But every opportunity out there, you play hard and let the game come to you, not try to do too much. I enjoy it."

Last week against the Astros, Pinder made his first start of the season in center field, and it didn't take long for him to get tested. In the third inning, Houston's Robinson Chirinos ripped a low line drive to shallow center. Pinder immediately broke in, charged at full speed, and made a terrific diving catch.

"Everywhere we put him, he seems to come up with plays like that," Melvin marveled. "I was talking to him before the game and he said the one hard one in center is that line drive right at you. That's the one you really just can't get a good jump on. And the first one that's hit to him is a line drive right in front of him and he gets a great jump and makes a great play."

To Pinder, his ability to make those plays flows from the way he plays the game.

 "You just try to anticipate things. You just play aggressive and, if you make mistakes, at least you do it playing aggressively."

Pinder's mistakes certainly have been few and far between. In 93 games this season, he only has committed three errors. Still, he knows he has room for improvement, especially playing the infield positions.

"Shortstop is definitely the toughest position," Pinder revealed. "For me this year, of the positions that I've played, it's been second base. Anywhere in the outfield, I feel pretty comfortable. It's just about getting reps. When I find out that I'm playing a certain position, I get the reps there."

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Pinder's offensive numbers have been solid as well, with a .250/.295/.442 slash line, 11 home runs, 17 doubles, and 39 RBI in limited action. He has proven more than capable of being an everyday player -- that opportunity likely still will come -- but for now, his value lies in his incredible versatility.