Athletics

A's, Tigers to finish suspended game, and things will look different

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AP

A's, Tigers to finish suspended game, and things will look different

Friday's going to be a strange day in Oakland.

The A's and Tigers will finish one game three and a half months after it started, and then they will play another game.

On May 19th, the game between the two teams was suspended in the bottom of the seventh due to rain. The A's were leading 5-3 when the game was stopped. That game was in Detroit. It will resume at 5:15 p.m. PT on Friday in Oakland with the A's serving as the road team in their own ballpark.

The four-game series in May was the only time the A's were traveling to Detroit, so instead of making the A's travel back to The Motor City on an off day, Major League Baseball decided to finish the game when the Tigers traveled to Oakland.

Once the A's and Tigers finish that game, they will change uniforms, and the A's will serve as the home team in the regularly scheduled series opener at 7:07 p.m. PT.

As you can imagine with a situation like this, there are several odd quirks with this game.

The A's entered the May 19 contest with a 15-game winning streak against the Tigers. That will either be extended to 16 or come to an end if Detroit rallies for the win.

If the A's hang on and win, they will get credit for an 11-game winning streak. If they lose the game, they will have a three-game winning streak and a seven-game winning streak sandwiched around the loss.

Then there are the oddities surrounding the rosters.

Nick Hundley entered the game as the catcher for the A's in the bottom of the sixth. There's a big problem. The veteran catcher was released by Oakland in July. He replaced Josh Phegley, so either Chris Herrmann or rookie Sean Murphy will have to finish the game.

Stephen Piscotty was the right fielder when the game in May was suspended, but he's currently on the 10-day injured list with a right ankle sprain.

Ramon Laureano is scheduled to come off the injured list Friday, but manager Bob Melvin stated that he will replace the center field for the completion of the suspended game.

"I just think his first day back, it doesn't make much sense to run him out there for a few innings and then go sit down for a while," Melvin said. "So we'll just let him start the second game. At least as we sit here right now, that's kind of what I have in mind."

Liam Hendriks, the current A's closer, had not been inserted into that role when this game first started, so Melvin brought him into the game at the start of the seventh inning. So Hendriks will be on the mound when the game resumes. He won't be available to Melvin in the ninth in a possible save situation.

"It's funny to see the lineup," Melvin said. "Pinder was hitting third, I think Olson was hitting sixth or seventh, Phegley was out of the game, Hundley was just coming in the game, Hendriks is actually in the game. I don't know that I can take him out and bring him back in the ninth, so there's a good chance, depending on the workload leading up to that, he'll be in that game."

As for the Tigers, they'll have to replace their No. 3, No. 7 and No. 9 hitters right away. Nick Castellanos was traded to the Cubs before the July 31 deadline, Josh Harrison was released by the team in early August and JaCoby Jones is on the injured list with a fractured left wrist.

[RELATED: Grossman continues to come up clutch]

These are the perils of completing a game nearly four months after it started.

It's also a strange situation that makes baseball so great.

Baseball America releases new top 10 A's prospects for 2020 MLB season

Baseball America releases new top 10 A's prospects for 2020 MLB season

The A's top three prospects virtually are set in stone. Wherever you look, you likely will see the same three names in the same order: Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk and Sean Murphy. 

That's a pretty talented trio right there. It's the same top three that led off Baseball America's list of top A's prospects going into the 2019 season. The same goes for 2020

Luzardo and Puk are regarded as two of the best left-handed pitching prospects in all of baseball. With a high-90s fastball and nasty changeup, Luzardo has all the ingredients to one day be a perennial Cy Young candidate. Puk's fastball-slider combination has him right up there with Luzardo, too. 

Murphy is expected to make a big impact on the A's this upcoming season, and the catcher is regarded as one of the best defensive prospects in the game. The 25-year-old made his MLB debut last year and hit four homers in limited time, too. 

The real change for the A's, however, is at No. 4. Going into last season, Baseball America had a Heisman Trophy winner as Oakland's fourth-best prospect. That's right, we're talking about Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyle Murray. 

While Murray claims he still believes he can play both sports in a calendar year, and the A's still own his baseball rights, it's highly unlikely the elusive QB ever wears an A's jersey. So, who's the A's new No. 4 prospect? Cal product Daulton Jefferies made a huge leap in the rankings. 

Jefferies, 24, entered 2019 as the A's No. 18 prospect on Baseball America's top-30 team rankings. The low ranking wasn't due to his talent, though. It was all because of injury risks. Jefferies missed a chunk of his junior year at Cal with a shoulder injury and then had Tommy John surgery in late April 2017. 

Prior to the 2019 season, Jefferies had only pitched 20 1/3 innings since being drafted by the A's with the 37th pick overall in 2016. He was healthy last year and showed his potential that always has intrigued front offices. The 6-foot right-hander went 2-2 with a 3.42 ERA and had 93 strikeouts to only five walks in 79 innings pitched between Advanced Class A and Double-A. 

[RELATED: A's Reed hopes to reunite with Florida teammate Puk in '20]

Jefferies is expected to start the season in Triple-A Las Vegas. He throws everything for strikes and sits in the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball. The A's will be safe with his workload, but don't be surprised if the former Cal Bear makes it to Oakland this season. 

There's no doubt the A's have one of the best young trios in Luzardo, Puk and Murphy. Don't forget about Daulton, though -- even if he does spell his name wrong.

MLB rumors: A's free-agent target Matt Wieters returning to Cardinals

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AP

MLB rumors: A's free-agent target Matt Wieters returning to Cardinals

The A's could use a veteran catcher on their major league roster, but Matt Wieters will not be that guy.

The veteran catcher will be returning to the St. Louis Cardinals, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Sunday.

A little over a week ago, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported, citing sources, that Wieters was drawing interest from the A's and Cardinals.

Wieters to the A's would have made sense because both catchers on Oakland's big league depth chart, Sean Murphy and Austin Allen, are rookies.

Instead, Wieters decided to stick with the team he played for in 2019. In 67 games last season, the 33-year-old slashed .214/.268/.435 with 11 homers and 27 RBI.

[RELATED: Buddy Reed hopes to reunite with Puk]

With Wieters reportedly off the board, there still are several attractive veteran catchers on the free-agent market for the A's to consider: Russell Martin, Caleb Joseph, Nick Hundley, Jonathan Lucroy, Bryan Holaday and Welington Castillo, just to name a few.

The A's have been relatively quiet this offseason, so we'll see if they make any more additions before pitchers and catchers report to Mesa, Ariz. on Feb. 12.