Donaldson in lineup for potential clinching game

ARLINGTON — A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson has been playing through hip issues, hamstring problems and, more recently, a left knee injury. But he can still walk, and that’s all manager Bob Melvin needs to hear to keep his All-Star in the lineup.

Donaldson, who reinjured the knee in Friday’s win but remained in the game regardless, was reassured by the Rangers’ team doctor Saturday that everything is structurally sound. So he was back in the lineup for Saturday’s potential clincher.

Donaldson said of the knee, “It does feel better,” and vowed to play as close to 100 percent as the knee allows, noting that he’s hardly the fastest guy on the roster as is.

“As long as he can move around, and as you saw last night, probably wasn’t running his normal pace, but he’s able to play out there,” said manager Bob Melvin. “It’s an inspiration to get a guy in the lineup who’s that banged-up and to stay in the lineup like he did last night. I think we all felt good about that.”

Melvin never hesitates when asked about Donaldson’s place in the American League MVP discussion, as he was Saturday. The infielder finished fourth in voting last year and, though his average has slipped from .301 to .253 this year, his WAR rating, as calculated by Fangraphs, is 6.3, tying him with Jose Bautista for fifth in the AL. Mike Trout leads the pack at 8.1.

“What he means for our team is pretty significant, and that’s what you go by,” Melvin said. “Sometimes, if a guy’s not hitting .300 or whatever, nowadays, average probably isn’t the most important thing. It’s production, it’s defense, all of the above. He gives us exactly that. So I would say he’s definitely in the equation.”

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