Athletics

A's ready to use A.J. Puk in 'a big spot' in making major league debut

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AP

A's ready to use A.J. Puk in 'a big spot' in making major league debut

OAKLAND -- A.J. Puk's major-league debut has been a long time coming. The A's believe it will be worth the wait.

Puk, 24, has been ranked as the A's No. 2 prospect for the last four years. After undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring, the 6-foot-7 left-hander is finally ready to take the field at the Coliseum.

"I’m really excited to just get out here and compete and try to help the team," Puk said. "It's been a long year -- a lot of work -- and it's paid off. I'm happy to be here."

The A's are certainly happy to have him as well. In the long-term, Puk will be a starting pitcher, but since he's on an innings limit following his surgery, he will join the bullpen for the stretch run.

"I'm not afraid to use him in a big spot," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "Now he's in the big leagues, the training wheels are off, and I'm looking forward to seeing him out there."

Puk has dominant stuff that should play right away in the majors. His fastball sits in the high 90s and can even touch 100, and his slider is absolutely devastating against either left-handed or right-handed batters.

"I see a fungo with long hair," joked NBC Sports California analyst Dallas Braden. "I also see a dude who has thunder coming out of that left arm and I see who I think understands how important and how valuable he can be, even in a short burst right now."

Melvin summed up Puk's stuff in a similar, if not as colorful, manner.

"Well, he throws rather hard. He's got a pretty good slider. Up to this point, he's developed into the guy that we kind of expected him to. ... We've been excited watching his progress and we're excited to have him."

Puk should significantly upgrade an Oakland bullpen that has dealt with its share of struggles this season. 

[RELATED: A's release struggling Estrada after constant back issues]

"What he's potentially capable of allows some other guys to settle in and maybe take a load off," Braden explained. "There's no doubt that, if necessary, he's poised for a big moment. That's what he has to know he's here for."

Puk will have his entire family at the Coliseum on Tuesday night -- his parents, three siblings, his agent Scott Boras, and even his old pitching coach who he's known since the age of nine.

"When they call my name, (I'll) be ready to pitch," Puk said. "Probably juiced up a lot. I'll try to stay relaxed and just get the job done."

Watch 'Workaholics' star Blake Anderson shotgun beer at A's tailgate

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AP

Watch 'Workaholics' star Blake Anderson shotgun beer at A's tailgate

Tailgating in Oakland is a unique experience, no matter the sport. And yet, you never can be quite prepared for what you're going to see or who you'll run into. 

At a recent tailgate during the Royals-A's series, "Workaholics" star Blake Anderson stopped by to hang out with some A's fans and enjoy some libations.

Well, to be frank, he straight up shotgunned a beer:

Those at the tailgate recorded the chugfest while shouting "Go Oakland!" in the process. Anderson responded perfectly.

The actor is a Concord native and is a huge A's and Golden State Warriors fan. You can spot him at plenty of local sporting events, so if you happened to miss him recently at the Coliseum, don't worry -- he'll be back soon.

Cheers, Blake!

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A's vs. Royals lineups: Matt Olson only left-hander facing Danny Duffy

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USATSI

A's vs. Royals lineups: Matt Olson only left-hander facing Danny Duffy

One day after hitting his 35th home run, A's first baseman Matt Olson is the lone left-handed hitter in the lineup Wednesday. 

A's manager Bob Melvin is bringing out his right-handers to face Royals lefty Danny Duffy for a matinee game in Oakland. Olson, however, has fared much better against righties than lefties this year. 

The power-hitting 25-year-old is batting just .230 with 10 homers against left-handers this season compared to .290 with 25 long balls vs. lefties. He still will hit third in the order, though. 

Here are the full lineups for the A's-Royals game, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports California and the MyTeams app. Coverage begins at noon PT, with first pitch at 12:37.

Kansas City Royals (56-96)
2B Whit Merrifield
SS Adalberto Mondesí
DH Jorge Soler
3B Hunter Dozier
LF Alex Gordon
1B Ryan O'Hearn
RF Bubba Starling
C Meibrys Viloria
CF Brett Phillips

LHP Danny Duffy (6-6, 4.55 ERA)

Oakland A's (91-61)
SS Marcus Semien
3B Matt Chapman
1B Matt Olson
CF Mark Canha 
RF Ramon Laureano
DH Khris Davis
C Sean Murphy
LF Chad Pinder
2B Sheldon Neuse

RHP Homer Bailey (13-8, 4.76 ERA)