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.”
KANSAS CITY — Four years after being drafted by the A’s as their first overall pick, infielder Grant Green is finally headed to the Majors.
According to a team source, Green will join Oakland in Pittsburgh on Monday for the start of a three-game Interleague set with the Pirates.
The 25-year-old Green is 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. His offense, though, has never been a concern for the A’s so much as his defense, but having spent the majority of this season strictly at second base, Green is thought to have improved in that area.
It’s at second base where Green is expected to make his debut, according to the official Twitter account of his high school, Anaheim’s Canyon High: “Congratulations to Grant Green who just got called up and will start at 2nd base for Oakland tomorrow night!”
The corresponding move for Green is unknown, though the A’s may potentially opt to designate Adam Rosales for assignment. Rosales has been a versatile piece for the A’s since 2010 but has struggled to consistently produce this season. He’s hitting just .200, and he also committed a costly error in the eighth inning that led to Kansas City’s game-winning run on Saturday.
Should Rosales be designated, the A’s would have 10 days to trade, release or pass him through waivers and keep him in the system.
Tigers manager and AL All-Star skipper Jim Leyland spoke candidly to local reporters, including MLB.com colleague Jason Beck, on Sunday morning about Josh Donaldson being left off the All-Star team, despite having put together not only one of the best first halfs of any third baseman but, really, any player in the league. Here’s what he had to say:
There’s a kid that got shortchanged, but there was nothing we could do about it. You’ve got Miguel Cabrera, and the players voted [Manny] Machado, and then you’ve got him, and you’ve still got [Evan] Longoria and [Adrian] Beltre. I mean, he just fell in. And it’s too bad, because this kid … I’ll go on record saying this kid’s an All-Star this year but it just didn’t [work out]. I can’t have four third basemen. It’s too bad.
He’s just a good, hard-nosed all-around player, and he’s getting better all the time. He’s growing up right before everybody’s eyes. I was impressed with him last year. We talked about him last year. This kid, I really have a lot of respect for him. I don’t know the kid, but he’s strong, he’s got power. He’s a perfect corner guy, a very hard-nosed guy, and he’s a scrapper defensively. I like him a lot, and he truly could’ve been an All-Star this year. It just didn’t work out.
I’m not defending anything, because I got three picks. And sometimes, whether people want to believe it or not, sometimes those picks may be from teams that don’t have anybody, so you don’t really get any.
KANSAS CITY — Mixed emotions engulfed the A’s clubhouse on Saturday afternoon.
There was plenty joy for a 40-year-old pitcher who made the All-Star team — but also confusion, disappointment and even anger knowing he won’t be joined by any teammates on the American League squad.
For the seventh time in the last eight seasons, the A’s learned Saturday that they’ll be represented by only one player at this year’s Midsummer Classic: Bartolo Colon.
It’s a deserving nod, no doubt, given the remarkable first half Oakland’s 16-year veteran has inscribed on his lengthy resume, which includes 11 wins next to just three losses and a 2.78 ERA.
“I feel extremely happy about it,” Colon said through A’s coach and interpreter Ariel Prieto. “I believe it’s all about the work that I’ve been doing, since even before the season started. I thank the Oakland A’s for giving me the opportunity to be part of them.”
It’s the first All-Star nod for Colon since 2005, the same year he took home the AL Cy Young Award, and second of his career, having also been named an All-Star in 1998. That was 15 years ago.
“I’m obviously very happy about Bartolo,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Very deserving, a guy that’s been around some time, and to make an All-Star Game at the age of 40 and have the type of half he did is pretty incredible.”
But for as happy as he is for Colon, Melvin is stunned that the All-Star Game, to be managed by Detroit’s Jim Leyland, will take place without any of his other players, notably Grant Balfour and Josh Donaldson.
“No question. Hopefully something happens and another gets in, but I am very surprised,” said Melvin, who spoke to Leyland on numerous occasions leading up to Saturday’s announcement.
“He called me and asked me some questions, and he did that with everybody,” he continued. “He didn’t give me any indication. This certainly isn’t on Jim Leyland. He only gets to pick a certain number of guys, and there are always going to be deserving players that don’t get to go. As far as speaking about our players on our team, I felt like we were deserving of having more than one guy there.”
“If anything,” said Donaldson, “I’m more disappointed that we only had one. I feel like we’re probably one of the best teams in all of baseball, and we deserve more than one guy. And I’m not talking about for me. You’ve got Balfour, Jed [Lowrie] is one of the top-hitting shortstops in the game right now. I just feel like there are more guys than just one in here that are All-Stars, and that’s why we’ve been so good.”
At 51-37, the defending AL West champion A’s are one of baseball’s best teams and have been since the middle of last year. Yet they’ve still yet to garner the type of attention they feel they merit.
“I guess from what you hear over the years, it’s not really surprising,” said Balfour. “It’s a little disappointing to see as a team. I think we’ve shown we’re a good team with a lot of great players. Just the way it goes I guess.
“I’m definitely disappointed, to be truthful. But what are you going to do about it?”
Balfour has been perfect for the A’s as a closer, having given them 22 saves in as many opportunities. He has 40 in a row dating back to last year.
“He’s been as close to shutdown as anyone in all of baseball,” Donaldson said. “I don’t know that there’s any other closer out there who’s perfect. He’s been perfect for us all year. I don’t know that there are any numbers that are better than perfect. I don’t understand why he’s not on the team.”
Donaldson’s numbers are equally impressive, even next to his peers in a stacked third-base field that includes Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado, Adrian Beltre and Evan Longoria. Oakland’s infielder, a converted catcher, exited Saturday with a .317 clip and a .918 OPS, along with 15 home runs and 57 RBIs.
Had he been selected, he would have been the first A’s position player to be invited to the All-Star Game since Ramon Hernandez in 2003.
“I’m not surprised,” Donaldson said, though with a hint of disappointment in his voice. “I felt honored that our fan base got behind me and tried to do what they could. That was special. For me, I understand the game of baseball and it’s more than just baseball sometimes, especially for stuff like this. Everyone who made the team I feel like is pretty deserving. I’m more happy that Colon made it vs. me, myself, not making it. It’s an incredible thing to do at 40 years old. I think it’s pretty amazing.”
Balfour was more candid in relaying his frustrations about the news.
“I guess I wasn’t good enough to make it,” he said wryly. “I don’t know what to tell you. You’re interviewing me because you thought I should’ve made it, and I don’t know. I feel like I’ve had some pretty good years over the years, and I felt like this was a year it maybe could’ve happened. But it didn’t happen and there’s still a season to be played, so I’m not going to sit here and cry about it.
“You play for a long time, think you put up some good numbers over the years, but if it was meant to be it was meant to be, so you let it go. It’s not always good enough to be perfect. You can’t be perfect for everyone. It’s not my choice. If I had the choice I’d go.”
A right hamstring strain forced Josh Donaldson to sit for just the second time all season on Friday, though his injury is not considered to be serious.
In fact, Oakland’s third baseman is hoping to be back in the starting lineup for the middle contest of a three-game home set with the Mariners on Saturday, and manager Bob Melvin didn’t rule it out.
Donaldson, joined on the bench by Coco Crisp, who is still dealing with right heel pain, entered the day 7-for-14 against Seattle starter Joe Saunders. Crisp has had plenty success too, going 9-for-30 off the lefty, but their absences were slightly mitigated by the return of Yoenis Cespedes, who had been relegated to the sidelines since Wednesday with a left hamstring strain.
“He’s feeling much better,” Melvin said of Cespedes, who started at designated hitter. “I saw him run out here earlier today. He was running without any issues. He might not be 100 percent, but hopefully he’ll be guarded enough when he’s running around the bases.”
Crisp, Melvin said, felt better Friday morning despite playing four innings in Thursday’s 18-inning affair with the Yankees. But “whether he’s in the lineup tomorrow,” he added, “I’m not sure.”
Though there’s just as much uncertainty surrounding Donaldson, the infielder is encouraged by the progress he’s made in such little time.
Donaldson, who exited after 15 innings Thursday upon feeling his hamstring “lock up a bit,” says he is no longer experiencing “that knotting sensation” he endured for much of the night.
“It didn’t feel like a cramp but it could’ve been,” he said. “I felt like if I was going to run hard, it wouldn’t have been good. So I iced it, got treatment last night, and it’s a lot better already.”
“He felt a lot better than I thought he’d feel today,” Melvin said, “so we’ll hold out hope he can play tomorrow.”
With Donaldson out of the mix, Adam Rosales started at third base Friday.
MLB.com has confirmed that the A’s and first-round Draft pick Billy McKinney have agreed to a $1.8 million bonus, as first reported by Baseball America’s Jim Callis. That’s slightly less than the assigned value of $1,893,500 for the No. 24 overall pick.
According to a source, McKinney will fly to Oakland on Thursday to undergo a physical. Come Friday, he’ll be introduced to the media and take batting practice with the team.
Read more about McKinney, an outfielder out of Texas’ Plano West High School, here.
The A’s have not made his signing official, but they did announce on Tuesday that they’ve agreed to terms with 25 other Draft picks, including lefty Chris Kohler, their second third-round selection, and right-hander Dylan Covey, taken in the fourth round.
CHICAGO — Billy McKinney sounded slightly embarrassed when admitting he’s yet to see “Moneyball” but vows he’ll add it to his to-do list this week.
Excuse him if it doesn’t happen until next week, for McKinney has a dream to start living out.
The 18-year-old prep outfielder was selected by the A’s at No. 24 in the first round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of Texas’ Plano West High School on Thursday.
McKinney committed to Texas Christian University in November but is likely to forego college plans in favor of beginning a career with the same club he grew up rooting for, despite living less than an hour from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
“My dream is to become a big league ball player, and hopefully I can start that dream soon,” McKinney said by phone. “I know the college coaches would love to have me there, but I’m just going to try to achieve my dream of becoming a Major League baseball player.
“Obviously growing up 45 minutes from the Texas Rangers, you can’t really be too proud about being an A’s fan without getting some heckling. I’ve always just like the way the A’s play. I’m just very glad I got picked by them.”
For the first time in the Billy Beane era, the A’s have opted for a high school player with their first pick in back-to-back years, having taken shortstop Addison Russell at No. 11 last June. Before that, the A’s hadn’t drafted a prep player in the first round since pitcher Jeremy Bonderman in 2001.
The A’s are hoping their decision to stray from the college pool and pluck from the high school level, before a rarity in the organization, shows Russell — playing at Class-A Stockton — and McKinney just how committed they are to grooming them into impact players at the Major League level.
Not one position player on the A’s current roster is homegrown, and only three pitchers (Sean Doolittle, Dan Straily, A.J. Griffin) were drafted by Oakland.
The left-handed McKinney led Plano West to the Class 5A semifinals this season, hitting .394 (39-for-99) with six home runs and 32 RBIs to go along with a .585 on-base percentage using a swing he says he models after Josh Hamilton. He also drew 36 walks in 130 plate appearances and struck out only six times.
“Hamilton just has a beautiful swing,” he said. “I try to keep my swing as short and compact as it can be.”
Primarily a center fielder, McKinney noted he feels comfortable in any outfield spot. The same goes for first base, though remaining in center would be his preference.
“I believe in my abilities to stay in center,” he said. “I hope I can, but I just do whatever I can to help the team win.”
Oakland’s current center fielder, Coco Crisp, has a club option for 2014, with 2010 first-round Draft pick Michael Choice lingering in Triple-A Sacramento. Choice is expected to make his big league debut by 2014, while McKinney said he has no time frame in mind when it comes to getting to The Show.
The A’s will pick twice more Thursday, with their other two selections on Day 1 of the Draft coming at No. 63 and 71.
MILWAUKEE — On the same morning Sean Doolittle identified a small mechanical problem that may be contributing to his recent struggles, his manager gave him a vote of confidence and said he has no plans to remove the lefty from his setup role.
Bob Melvin said he spoke with Doolittle on Wednesday morning, not much more than 12 hours after the sophomore reliever gave up three runs on just four pitches in the eighth, allowing the Brewers to tie a game they would eventually win in the 10th inning. It was the third straight outing Doolittle had allowed at least two runs, the same number he surrendered total in his first 23 appearances.
“I don’t know that we avoid him today or want to,” Melvin said. “He feels good, we still feel good about him. You’re constantly looking to make adjustments when you have tough periods, and he will, and he has. I’m sticking with him.
“Like any pitcher that’s ever pitched, you’re never going to be perfect over the course of your entire career, and I think going through something like this gives you experience, makes you better, makes you find out different ways to do it. He’ll be better on the flip side for it.”
Doolittle believes he has already bettered himself, after he watched video of his recent outings early Wednesday morning that showed mechanics that “weren’t even the same two weeks ago,” he said.
“I’m flying open just a touch,” Doolittle explained. “My hips were coming open a little bit too soon, and I think I was showing them the ball a little bit too early and it was taking away some of the life that I have on my fastball, because I wasn’t staying behind it as long. So we did some mechanic work this morning, felt really good throwing, so I feel really confident if I get in there today.
“Any time you can identify the problem, especially to have it be a relatively easy fix, that’s big.”
It’s mostly a relief for the 26-year-old converted first baseman, who took up pitching after injuries derailed his career as an infielder less than two years ago. Just as important is the trust he’s been awarded by Melvin, whose decision to stick with Doolittle proved rather easy.
“You take into consideration what kind of guy he is,” Melvin said. “Is he a confident guy? Is he someone you need to give a break to? He’s not that type of guy. He wants the ball and he wants it today.”
“That’s always really reassuring,” Doolittle said. “I think my track record up to this point has been pretty good, but it still kind of reinforces the confidence you have in yourself when your manager backs you like that. I really appreciate it.”
MILWAUKEE — Josh Reddick routinely throws sunflower seeds at opposing mascots on the road. But a few happened to hit the face of an Astros employee in Houston last weekend, leading to an apology by Reddick on Tuesday when the woman publicized a letter expressing her anger at the incident.
The employee insinuates that Reddick intentionally hit her in the face with sunflower seeds while she was tossing free T-shirts into the stands from the top of the visitors’ dugout on May 25.
According to Reddick, “I was doing what I do in every ballpark, messing around and throwing seeds at a mascot,” he said Tuesday in Milwaukee. “She was complaining about being hit in the face when she’s doing her job and facing the other way.”
The Astros employee said she informed the A’s of the incident and was told by public relations director Bob Rose that the matter would be handled internally. Rose confirmed this, and manager Bob Melvin said he indeed spoke to Reddick about the issue the day after it happened.
“It had come to my attention [by a clubhouse manager], so we had spoken about it,” Melvin said Tuesday. “He feels bad about it. Nothing was done maliciously. He’s just trying, in his way, to have a little fun, and based on where we were and the proximity of it, he didn’t know he was going to hit somebody. But he feels bad about it. It wasn’t intentional.
“I had not heard anything since my conversation with him, and he expressed his remorse to me. This is now coming up again, and I had no idea it was coming up again.”
That’s because the employee, still waiting for an apology by Reddick, opted to release the same letter she wrote Rose to the public in the last day.
In it, she says, “I am sure hundreds of kids witnessed Josh hitting me in the face with sunflower seeds and that makes me more upset than anything. Where I come from, men don’t treat women like that, so I was shocked and appalled that any man would, much less a notable professional athlete. … I don’t care if he is fined or even penalized. Quite frankly, the only resolution I wanted from the entire ordeal was an apology from him, even if it was forced by the A’s organization.”
Though this letter was sent to Rose shortly after the club returned from Houston, Rose had not spoken to Reddick about it directly as of Tuesday, instead taking it to his bosses. Reddick said he found out about the letter via Twitter, and that’s when he decided to tweet this apology:
“For all of you who know or have heard about my sunflower seed incident in Houston. All I was trying to do was have fun with the mascot. I flip seeds in every stadium at the mascot. It was just unfortunate that I hits n employee throwing tshirts. I am deeply sorry for what I’ve done. It will not happen again”
Rose said he was going to encourage Reddick to speak to the employee when the A’s return to Houston in July. But when asked if he had any plans to, Reddick replied, “Nope.”
Coco Crisp tested out his strained left hamstring on the bases on Monday, and manager Bob Melvin was so encouraged by the results that, for the first time, he said the outfielder could potentially return to the lineup when eligible Wednesday.
“It went really well,” Melvin said. “He ran full out, didn’t look like there was hesitation, so he’ll take batting practice, some balls in the outfield today, and if everything goes well today and tomorrow we’ll look to activate him Wednesday. But, again, we have to get there first.”
Melvin didn’t sound as optimistic about Chris Young, who is on the mend from a left quad strain. The outfielder homered in an extended Spring Training game Monday but “wasn’t 100 percent,” Melvin said. Young went 1-for-5 and played seven innings in center field.
“He could feel it a little bit, probably didn’t let himself go all the way running down the line, so we’ll see on Wednesday,” Melvin continued. “He’ll play again tomorrow. If we feel like we have to push it back with the off-day [Thursday], we can do that, but we’ll see where it goes.”
Crisp and Young, responsible for 13 of the club’s 26 stolen bases, have both been out since April 30, and in that time the A’s are 4-8.
“These are key guys for us, but you don’t want to make excuses for anything,” Melvin said. “We have depth in this organization, guys that we like, and it’s their opportunity to shine. I think we probably miss Coco at the top of the lineup as much as anything, because he’s our igniter, but you don’t make excuses. You play through them and try to do the best you can.”
At some point, whether by way of Crisp’s activation or Young’s, Michael Taylor is likely to be sent back to Triple-A Sacramento. He entered Monday with just one hit in 14 at-bats, after going hitless in six at-bats during his first stint with the club and 3-for-21 over two stints in Oakland last year.
These struggles put into question Taylor’s future with the organization. He’ll be 28 by year’s end, with more than 600 games played at the Minor League level.
“He just hasn’t had the quality at-bats he’d like to have,” Melvin said. “We still feel like the ability is there. It just hasn’t translated at this point. You look at Chris Carter, and he had a tough time and finally got more of an opportunity to play on a regular basis and figured it out and had a productive year. We’d like to think that’s the same way with Michael, because the ability is there.
“He hasn’t gotten consistent time, where he’s gotten four, five games in a row, and he might not, but we still hold out hope that his ability will take over and he will have success here at some point in time.”
It’s not clear who will join Taylor back in Triple-A when both Crisp and Young are reinstated, though the decision is expected to come down to Daric Barton — who would first have to clear waivers — or Luke Montz.