OAKLAND -- A’s left-hander Drew Pomeranz still had the maize and blue Michigan football helmet hanging in his locker Saturday morning that manager Bob Melvin had presented to him the night before, following Pomeranz’s seven scoreless innings in the A’s 12-0 win over the Seattle Mariners.
A motivational ploy picked up from Melvin’s friend and new Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh? Melvin acknowledged that Harbaugh did give him the helmet, and that he did hand it to Pomeranz as a kind of player-of-the-game honor. But Melvin said he won’t be making it a regular thing.
"It’s not like I’m the guy that’s prominent in the clubhouse with those types of things," Melvin said.
The A’s clubhouse has housed helmets of other kinds, such as Josh Reddick’s Georgia football helmet and the A’s-colored Darth Vader helmet that made the rounds last year among members of the bullpen. But Melvin prefers to leave clubhouse recreation to players. It’s one of the things players say they appreciate in Oakland: Melvin’s hands-off style helps create a loose atmosphere where players can be themselves.
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So Melvin will not be giving out the Michigan helmet in a daily postgame ceremony. But it probably won’t disappear, either. Designated hitter Billy Butler joked this morning the team would form a committee to decide during games who would receive the helmet. For the moment, it still belonged to Pomeranz -- an Ole Miss alum.
How did Pomeranz feel about the Big Ten gear in his locker? "I guess I don’t have a choice," he said.
* It’s an easy choice to keep Mark Canha in the lineup today: The Mariners are starting a left-hander in J.A. Happ, and Canha is 7-for-14 to start his MLB career. Still Canha is the first player to make consecutive starts batting second in the A’s lineup this season. Here’s the full lineup:
And the Mariners’ lineup against A’s right-hander Sonny Gray:
* Melvin had a few injury updates this morning. Right-hander Jarrod Parker is scheduled to throw three innings (45 pitches) in a controlled game against the Milwaukee Brewers’ Arizona League team on Monday. Starters A.J. Griffin (Tommy John) and Sean Nolin (sports hernia surgery) are both pitching in simulated games today.
Right fielder Josh Reddick (oblique strain) is planning to rejoin the A’s for the series finale against the Mariners on Sunday. Reddick went 0-for-4 in his rehab game Friday with High-A Stockton.
* Both the A’s and Mariners took batting practice (the A’s was optional) before their day game Saturday. That’s unusual for the A’s before a day game, but there’s no BP for either team Sunday because of the pre-game Little League parade at the Coliseum, and Melvin didn’t want players to go two days without hitting on the field.
* One interesting note from Gray’s last outing -- when he took a no-hitter into the eighth against the Rangers -- was Melvin saying it looked like the right-hander was improvising pitches on the fly. Today, Melvin said that’s something Gray has done more frequently with more big-league time.
"He’s just got a great feel for what his strengths and weaknesses are and what he needs to do on a particular day, whether it’s something not working or someone that’s giving him a tough time or (whom) he wants to give a different look," Melvin said.
Stephen Vogt caught Gray’s first outing and said it can be a challenge keeping up with Gray when he starts fiddling with pitches. Vogt has a lot more experience with Gray than today’s catcher, Josh Phegley, whom Melvin said may have to adjust accordingly.
"Sonny is an acquired taste," Melvin said. "But you’ve just got to learn on the fly sometimes."