Athletics

A's rookie Jesús Luzardo to make first MLB start vs. Rangers next week

A's rookie Jesús Luzardo to make first MLB start vs. Rangers next week

It's about time.

After a long wait, the A’s will start top pitching prospect Jesús Luzardo against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday in Oakland, manager Bob Melvin told reporters on Friday.

Luzardo suffered a setback heading into Summer Camp when he tested positive for coronavirus. He put in some work out of the bullpen this season, pitching 6 2/3 innings of relief, while boasting a 1.35 ERA, striking out seven and walking three.

It’s a highly-anticipated first career MLB start for the 22-year-old, who has been said by his own teammates he has the potential to be one of the best pitchers in the league one day. That day might come sooner than we think.

[RELATED: Luzardo's return from quarantine was his best of 2020]

We only got to see Luzardo in relief last season as well, but Melvin always sang Luzardo’s praise. He boasted a 1.50 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 12 innings in 2019.

Luzardo said on Wednesday he's more than ready to get the start

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]
 

Watch A's red-hot slugger Matt Chapman crush two home runs vs. Angels

Watch A's red-hot slugger Matt Chapman crush two home runs vs. Angels

Matt Chapman is on a tear.

After the Los Angeles Angels took an early 3-0 lead in the first inning of Monday's game against the A's, the third baseman turned on a pitch from starter Julio Teheran to put the A's on the board with a solo home run to lead off the second inning.

[RELATED: This projection nearly guarantees A's will make the playoffs]

It was Chapman's third consecutive game with a home run. But the star wasn't done there, as he absolutely crushed a pitch from Teheran in his next at-bat that flew well over center fielder Mike Trout's head.

His second blast gave the A's a 5-3 lead in the third inning.

Chapman still wasn't done. In the top of the fourth inning, he came up with the bases loaded and drove in all three runners with a triple to right-center to give the A's an 8-4 lead.

Chapman so far Monday night is 3-for-3 with two homers, a triple and six RBI.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Ramón Laureano says he regrets charging 'loser' Alex Cintrón in brawl

Ramón Laureano says he regrets charging 'loser' Alex Cintrón in brawl

Ramón Laureano said he regretted going after Houston Astros hitting coach Alex Cintrón in Sunday's benches-clearing brawl, but the A's outfielder didn't hold back his feelings about Cintrón on Monday in his first comments since the kerfuffle at the Oakland Coliseum.

"I regret charging him because he's a loser," Laureano told ESPN's Jeff Passan in an interview Monday. "[A suspension] is understandable, but I hope it's not that many games. At the end of the day, I'm here to win a World Series with the Oakland Athletics -- this wonderful group of guys. I don't want to be a distraction. Obviously, I am right now. Hey, I've already moved on. I'm facing Julio Teheran (and the Los Angeles Angels) today, and that's all I'm thinking right now."

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Laureano said in the interview with Passan, and later on a video conference call with local reporters, that the Houston hitting coach insulted the outfielder's mother from the opposing dugout. Former Astros beat writer Jose de Jesus Ortiz first reported Sunday those comments were the source of Laureano's ire, while A's manager Bob Melvin told reporters that day that something Cintrón said caused Laureano to charge towards the Astros dugout after reaching first base on his second hit-by-pitch of the game (and third of the series).

Cintrón denied talking about Laureano's mother to Passan via an Astros employee, though the Houston Chronicle's Chandler Rome noted the coach wasn't made available for comment after Sunday's A's win. Astros manager Dusty Baker said Cintrón was "remorseful."

Laureano said that he shouldn't have stooped to Cintrón's level, admitting "I look like not a very smart guy" (H/T Bay Area News Group's Shayna Rubin) for disregarding MLB's healthy-and-safety measures in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. "[Fighting] and instigating fights are strictly prohibited" under the protocols, and both Laureano and Cintrón reportedly are expected to be suspended.

"I guess it’s an unwritten rule that you can’t be doing that, you know, as a coach," Laureano said of Cintrón (H/T NBC Sports California's Jessica Kleinschmidt). So yeah, I guess it was wrong for him to do that. But, hey, I’m a man, I’m a freakin’ man -- whatever happens, happens. And I couldn't keep my cool, and I should've, and I wasted my time with that guy."

[RELATED: Why Laureano was tackled by Garneau in A's-Astros brawl]

Laureano, 26, is slashing .278/.406/.519 with three home runs and 10 RBI so far this season. Only Matt Chapman currently has more extra-base hits, and no batter has been worth more wins above replacement at the plate than Laureano (1.1).

The A's are riding a nine-game winning streak, and Oakland would miss Laureano's bat and glove for as long as he's out of the lineup. In the meantime, he said he has felt supported by the organization in the aftermath of Sunday's fracas.

“It meant a lot to me, that’s how close we are as a group," he told reporters. "Not only the players, but the coaching staff and everybody. It felt good, (all of) the support and people reaching out to me.”