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Cespedes in left field for Game 1

ALDS Game 1 starting lineup:

CF Coco Crisp: 4-for-14, 4 K vs Max Scherzer

SS Jed Lowrie: 2-for-6, 1 K

3B Josh Donaldson: 1-for-8, 3 K

DH Brandon Moss: 3-for-13, 1 HR, 5 K, 2 BB

LF Yoenis Cespedes: 1-for-4, 1 K, 2 BB

RF Josh Reddick: 4-for-10, 5 K

C Stephen Vogt: 1-for-2

1B Daric Barton: 0-for-4, 3 K

2B Eric Sogard: 3-for-5

A’s set ALDS roster

Rotation: Bartolo Colon, Sonny Gray, Jarrod Parker, Dan Straily

Bullpen: Grant Balfour, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook, Jerry Blevins, Brett Anderson, Dan Otero, Jesse Chavez

Catcher: Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt, Kurt Suzuki

First base: Brandon Moss, Daric Barton

Second base: Alberto Callaspo, Eric Sogard

Shortstop: Jed Lowrie

Third base: Josh Donaldson

Outfielders: Yoenis Cespedes, Chris Young, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Seth Smith

Offensive struggles continue for A’s in another loss

CINCINNATI — For the last week, the A’s haven’t been playing like the first-place team the current standings say they are.

Going back to July 30, an eight-day, six-game span, Oakland’s pitching has been inconsistent. So has its defense. The only thing consistent about this club has been its hitting — consistently bad, that is.

A sputtering A’s lineup was nearly shut out a second straight game on Tuesday, before Derek Norris hit one out of the park with two outs in the 9th in an eventual 3-1 series-opening Interleague loss to the host Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Oakland managed just five hits in the affair.

As for that first-place standing, the A’s are quickly letting it slip away, having watched a six-game lead over the Rangers narrow to 1 1/2 games in just eight days.

Before Norris’ homer, his eighth of the year, Oakland hadn’t scored a run since Saturday, a disheartening stretch of 18 innings without one, their longest such streak of the season. And since July 30? Well, only 10 runs have crossed home plate. All the while they’ve left 45 men on base and are 4-for-41 with runners in scoring position.

That includes an 0-for-6 showing on Tuesday, with seven left on base, while starter Dan Straily struggled to gain any sort of rhythm in yet another short outing.

Oakland’s right-hander gave up two runs on six hits, including Jay Bruce’s second-inning solo shot, with one walk and three strikeouts in four innings, marking not only the third straight start he hasn’t completed five frames but also the fifth time in his last eight tries.

Straily didn’t put up a clean inning until his last, and by the time it ended, he was already at 75 pitches, leading to lefty Jerry Blevins’ entrance at the start of the fifth.

Blevins proceeded to allow a leadoff double to Shin-Soo Choo, his issues with first batters — a staggering 44 percent of them have reached base this season — continuing. Only more trouble awaited the lefty, who threw Derrick Robinson’s ensuing sacrifice bunt into right field, allowing Choo to score and Robinson to safely reach first.

Blevins stranded Robinson and the Reds didn’t score another run, but neither did the A’s, who watched righty Mat Latos toss 7 1/3 scoreless innings.

Sogard: “We took it as a joke”

Matt Garza is making fast friends with his new division foes.

The Rangers pitcher, having already voiced his displeasure with Eric Sogard on Saturday after the A’s infielder executed a safety squeeze, took to Twitter later in the night and took shots at not only Sogard but the infielder’s wife, Kaycee.

Among his numerous tweets directed at the Sogards: “childish is having your wife speak up for you! certain people can’t shut there woman up!”

Eric, participating in a team charity bowling tournament on Saturday night, learned of Garza’s remarks from a few teammates and was rather surprised, especially since wife Kaycee had only tweeted, “Eric is probably the last person to respond to getting called names.”

“I went back and looked to see what she said and I don’t see it how it was directed at him, or how he could take it that way,” Sogard said.

Still, he took the high road and even slightly excused Garza’s actions.

“Obviously you get caught up in the heat of the moment, things like that can happen,” Eric said, “but I was kind of surprised to see it escalated and what happened later.

“[Kaycee] just thought it was a joke. She took it off her shoulders quickly, wasn’t offended by it really. We just kind of laughed about it. We took it as a joke, and that’s how we’ll continue to look at it.”

Garza did not speak to Sogard in the morning and told reporters he didn’t plan to, but he issued this statement, declining to field further questions:

“All I want to say is I let my competitive spirit cross outside the lines, and that shouldn’t happen. I let my passion, my fire carry over, and that’s not how this game should be played. And for that I apologize to the Sogards for anything that was said through my Twitter. That’s all I have. I regret what happened, and I’m just looking forward to a great game today.”

A’s manager Bob Melvin is not on Twitter but he was well aware of the goings-on.

“I really don’t have a reaction,” he said. “That’s between two others in a world I’m not part of.”

Melvin, like Sogard, didn’t quite understand why so much frustration was built over Sogard’s ability to do his job, which extended Oakland’s lead to two runs in a 4-2 victory.

“We’re trying to add on a run against a really good pitcher that was on a roll,” Melvin said. “We got to him early in the game and scored three runs off him but didn’t do anything after that. We’re just trying to get a run home. They’d do it as well.”

“I was just doing my job out there,” added Sogard. “I got the bunt sign from my third-base coach and put the bunt down and apparently he didn’t like it. Just playing the game. Obviously it’s something you want to leave on the field when the game ends and move on.”

Asked if he’d bunt against Garza the next time he faces him, Sogard smiled.

“We’ll see,” he said. “It seemed to work out yesterday.”

Milone optioned to Sacramento

With a pair of off-days looming and no need for a fifth starter until Aug. 13, the A’s opted to exchange one of their starters for relief help from Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday.

Struggling lefty Tommy Milone, who gave up six runs on nine hits, including two two-run homers, in just 3 2/3 innings in a loss to the Rangers on Friday, was the odd man out. Long reliever Evan Scribner took his roster spot.

“Tommy just needs to go down there and do his thing,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He went through a little period here recently where he hasn’t been pitching great, but he’s still pretty good. And when you’re sending a guy like Tommy Milone down, it means you have some good pitching, and we do.

“He’s been giving up some hits, and maybe his command isn’t like it was earlier. Last night was his worst game. He’s had a couple of these in his last four. We still have a lot of confidence in Tommy. He’s a big part of this team, he’s just not here right now.”

Friday marked the second time in his last four starts of pitching fewer than four innings for Milone, who has a 4.81 ERA over his last 14 starts after posting a 3.71 ERA during his first eight.

He’ll start for the River Cats on Thursday in Omaha.

“Obviously I feel like I haven’t pitched like myself lately,” Milone said, “and I think it could be good to go down and work on myself and work on getting back to what I think I am and what I know I am as a pitcher, and hopefully I’ll be back up here soon.

“I feel like that’s the kind of pitcher I am, the guy who’s always consistent and tries to keep their team in the game, and I haven’t been that guy. Hopefully I can get that back.”

Scribner joins the A’s for the third time this year but first since May 10 when he was optioned to Sacramento, where he has a 2.48 ERA in 25 relief appearances. He comes to the A’s having not pitched in two days, giving them a fresh arm following Dan Otero’s 42-pitch relief performance on Friday.

“Throwing as many pitches as he did yesterday,” Melvin said, “you get into an extra-inning game today and you don’t want to get caught short.

“Scrib’s pitched in any number of roles for us. He’s matched up, pitched an inning later in games, pitched length for us. He’s a very versatile bullpen piece.”

“It’s always fun to pack your whole life up in an hour,” joked Scribner, who got word of his promotion early Saturday. “Down there I felt great, throwing strikes, getting ahead. It’s frustrating being away from the team but we have fun down there too. It’s something I think about on an everyday basis but I try to stay focused on doing my own thing to try to get back as fast I could.”

Callaspo to join A’s on Wednesday

2009 first-round Draft pick Grant Green’s place as Oakland’s second baseman of the future is no more. That’s because the A’s focus isn’t so much on the future as it is the present, which is why they traded Green to the Angels on Tuesday night in exchange for infielder Alberto Callaspo.

The switch-hitting Callaspo will mainly play second base for the first-place A’s, who had been looking for an offensive upgrade against left-handed pitching at the position — currently shared by platoon players Eric Sogard and Adam Rosales — before Wednesday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, as their pursuit to a second straight playoff appearance continues.

Rosales is likely to be designated for assignment prior to Wednesday’s matinee against the Blue Jays upon Callaspo’s arrival.

“We needed some infield help, particularly someone who could help swing from the right side,” A’s general manager Billy Beane said. “We’re pretty thin infield-wise, when you start thinking about the fact we’ve played Josh [Donaldson] pretty much every inning of almost every game. He can give Josh a breather. He can hit against left-handed pitching, play some second base.”

Beane didn’t anticipate any other moves before Wednesday’s 1 p.m. PST Trade Deadline, saying he was “not currently” engaged in other trade talks.

“Sometimes things happen quickly,” he said, “but I would say probably not. You never know. You get calls sometimes early in the morning on the last day, but at this point I don’t see anything right now.”

Callaspo, 30 and in his eighth Major League season, has strictly played third base in each of the last three seasons. He hasn’t played at second since 2010 and hasn’t been a regular there since 2008, but he offers the A’s a better bat against left-handers than Rosales, who was hitting just .197 entering the day.

For his career, Callaspo has favored the right side of the plate, posting a .763 OPS next to a .696 clip as a left-handed hitter.

The second-base platoon likely stays intact, then, with Sogard and Callaspo sharing duties at the position, leaving Jed Lowrie to remain at shortstop on an everyday basis going forward, with Sogard acting as his backup.

Beane, who began fielding calls from the Angels on Monday morning, didn’t shy away from questions regarding Callaspo’s absence from second base, stating up front, “I am concerned.”

“But he has played it a lot in the past, and there wasn’t a huge availability of that type of player,” he continued. “He’s going to have to get over there. We were in a situation where we needed another infielder.”

Callaspo was batting .253 with five home runs and 36 RBIs in 85 games for the Angels, having also compiled 33 walks next to just 22 strikeouts spanning 334 plate appearances.

He is owed roughly $6 million, including $4.875 million in 2014, and the A’s are expected to pay all of it.

“I think he’s a great player,” said Chris Young, a teammate of Callaspo in 2007 in Arizona. “He’s really good defensively, and he’s a guy that’s going to put the ball in play. Great bat control, one of the better bat control guys in the league. I think he has a great approach at the plate and is able to make a difference up there and keep things moving.”

“He’s a quality player,” said Donaldson. “He’s one of those guys that can be a table-setter and get on base a lot. He’s solid in all parts of the game.”

Green, 25, made his Major League debut for Oakland on July 8, ultimately going hitless in 15 at-bats spanning five games while committing three errors. Defense has always been a concern for Green, whose movement between positions in the Minors slowed his journey to the big leagues.

However, the A’s always thought highly of his bat, which registered a .325 average with 27 doubles and 11 home runs in 87 games for Triple-A Sacramento this year. He was a late scratch from the River Cats’ game on Tuesday night, around the same time Callaspo was pulled from the Angels’ game in Texas.

Beane admitted giving up a first-rounder wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t “so much a matter of things not working out with him.”

“It’s just a matter of addressing a need for a first-place team and recognizing and trying to grasp the present,” he explained. “We’re in a pretty unique position. I think we need to do everything we can to help this club out. The guys here, Bob [Melvin], the staff and the people that follow this team deserve that. We did think highly of Grant, and the price was steep, but it was a sellers’ market for this position, and not many guys out there, but we needed to get somebody.”

It’s a sentiment appreciated by his employees.

“In a clubhouse, no matter what happens, you believe you have what it takes,” Young said. “We’ve been able to play pretty well this season, but any time a move is made in an attempt to make the team better, you have to respect it.”

Said Sogard: “Any way we can improve, absolutely. We’re looking forward to this last stretch, and hopefully we can keep this going. [Callaspo] is a great player. He’s been a hassle for us, so it’s great to have him on our side. I think he’ll be a great fit in our clubhouse.”

Beane: “Not currently” involved in more trade talks

After striking a deal with the Angels on Tuesday night for Alberto Callaspo, A’s general manager Billy Beane said he is “not currently” engaged in other trade talks, meaning Wednesday’s non-waiver trade deadline could pass without any further movement in Oakland.

“Sometimes things happen quickly,” Beane said, “but I would say probably not. You never know. You get calls sometimes early in the morning on the last day, but at this point I don’t see anything right now.”

In recent days, the A’s were looking for pitching help, and it was right-hander Jake Peavy’s name that was mentioned most in rumor circles. Peavy officially became a member of the Red Sox on Tuesday night, and while Beane wouldn’t comment specifically on him, he did say he’s happy with his current in-house options.

That includes rehabbing lefty Brett Anderson, anticipated to rejoin the A’s in mid-August, and top prospect Sonny Gray.

“Brett’s doing well, and we anticipate his arrival soon,” Beane said. “At some point, we have to recognize the way Sonny Gray’s pitching. He becomes an option for us somewhere. We always had that in the back of our mind, too, that we always had some in-house options that were quickly going to be able to contribute.”

A’s trade Green to Angels for Callaspo

OAKLAND — The A’s gave away former first-round Draft pick Grant Green to the Angels on Tuesday in exchange for a proven infielder in Alberto Callaspo.

According to a source, Callaspo will play second base for the A’s, who had been looking for an offensive upgrade at the position — currently shared by platoon players Eric Sogard and Adam Rosales — before Wednesday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Callaspo, 30 and in his eighth Major League season, has spent the majority of the last few years at third base. He hasn’t played at second since 2010, but he offers the A’s a better bat against left-handers than Rosales, who was hitting just .197 entering the day.

The second-base platoon likely stays intact, then, with Sogard and Callaspo sharing duties at the position, leaving Jed Lowrie to remain at shortstop on an everyday basis going forward.

Callaspo, pulled from the Angels’ game in the top of the sixth in Texas on Tuesday night, was batting .253 with five home runs and 36 RBIs in 85 games for the Angels. He is owed roughly $6 million, including $4.875 million in 2014, and the A’s are expected to pay all of it.

Green, 25, made his Major League debut for Oakland on July 8, ultimately going hitless in 15 at-bats spanning five games while committing three errors. Defense has always been a concern for Green, whose movement between positions in the Minors slowed his journey to the big leagues.

However, the A’s always thought highly of his bat, which registered a .325 average with 27 doubles and 11 home runs in 87 games for Triple-A Sacramento this year. He was a late scratch from the River Cats’ game on Tuesday night, around the same time Callaspo was pulled.

Jaso undergoes series of concussion tests again

HOUSTON — A’s catcher John Jaso has taken a foul ball to his face mask twice in as many days, leading to doctor visits on both occasions to check for concussion symptoms.

Following Wednesday’s 4-3 win in Houston, which he departed after seven innings, Jaso underwent a series of vision tests, which came back normal. However, he still felt dizzy, making his availability for upcoming games uncertain.

Jaso, at least, should be able to rest Thursday, with a lefty in CJ Wilson throwing for the Angels and Derek Norris likely drawing the start at catcher.

“My brain might like the rest, but at the same time I want to play,” Jaso said before boarding the team charter. “I feel good right now. I feel like I’m working really good at-bats, so it’s definitely not a time I’d want to rest or whatever. A lot of it will have to do with the trainer and what he feels is best.”

Jaso went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and a walk on Wednesday, before a foul ball drilled his mask in the seventh. On Tuesday, the same happened in the sixth.

“He was cleared and good for the game, and once he took another one, he told me he had a little headache and that was it,” manager Bob Melvin said. “You can’t chance that.”

Jaso is very familiar with concussion tests, having undergone them in the Minors when he was diagnosed with one.

“It’s definitely nothing new to me, it just gets a little scary sometimes,” he said. “Like yesterday after I got hit, I was kind of fearing the pitch he was going to throw after that. I had to call time because I didn’t know whether I was going to see the pitch or not. I don’t want to hurt the team at the same time. I know, blocking balls, I want to be on top of that in one-run ballgames. I don’t want to let pride get in the way of that.

“We’re going to have to see how things go. I’ve got some head problems right now. I don’t like making a habit of this.”

Green at second base, batting eighth in A’s debut

PITTSBURGH — The Grant Green era officially began on Monday, when the A’s brought their former first-round pick to Pittsburgh to play second base and bat eighth in their series opener against the Pirates.

To make room on the roster for Green, the A’s designated Adam Rosales for assignment.

This has been four years in the making for Green, drafted out of college as a shortstop in 2009 before embarking on a somewhat lengthy journey to the Majors, playing six different positions along the way while his employers debated the best fit. He’s finally found a home at second base.

“I feel really comfortable there,” Green said. “It’s kind of just second nature now. Being able to play there pretty much every day the last couple of weeks has really helped.

“It’s a move I’m OK with now. It was kind of mind-boggling at first with all the position changes, but they always said it was for the better in the long run, and it’s definitely worked out.”

The plan is for Green to platoon with Eric Sogard at second base on a first-place A’s club, getting starts against left-handed pitching — a move that finally brings permanency to Jed Lowrie’s place at shortstop, his natural position. As for Lowrie’s backup, manager Bob Melvin says that job belongs to Sogard.

Green, 25 was hitting .318 with a .374 on-base percentage, next to 11 home runs, 25 doubles and 49 RBIs in 81 games with Triple-A Sacramento.

“He’s swinging the bat really well, he’s had real good at-bats against left-handed pitching and is way more comfortable at [second base] now,” Melvin said. “We just felt like the way he was playing at the time, it was the right time to get him here and get him the opportunity.”

“It’s a great feeling knowing that the organization and the people at the top feel comfortable in my ability to play this game at a high level,” Green said. “Even when the team’s playing very well, they’re going to call me up and see what I got.”

Green had all of his immediate family on hand for his debut in Pittsburgh, which includes dad Gregg, mom Valerie, brother Garett and sister-in-law Ashley, all from the Southern California area.

They were his first call after he learned of his promotion from Sacramento manager Steve Scarsone on Sunday afternoon in Fresno, shortly before the River Cats were about to play a game. Green was scratched from the lineup and instead took a series of flights that led to his arrival in Pittsburgh around 9:30 a.m. on Monday.

“Scarsone called me in and said I was coming up here, and I just thought he was fooling around with me at first, just because that’s his personality,” he said. “He told me that’s something he wouldn’t fool around with. I thought he was joking at first, to be completely honest, and kind of just speechless. It definitely didn’t really sink in until I told my mom and she started crying.”

As for Rosales, who was hitting .200 on the season, his fourth in Oakland, the A’s will have 10 days to trade, release or pass him through waivers.

“That was a tough decision, it was,” Melvin said. “Adam has been here awhile, he can play different positions, he’s versatile, he’s a great teammate, he’s loved by the players in the clubhouse. He’s one of those guys you just always pull for. If he ends up with someone in the big leagues, great. If not and we can keep him in the organization, that’d be great, too.”

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