OAKLAND -- As A’s players stretched and warmed up down the left-field line Thursday afternoon, several yelled across the field to Scott Kazmir, who was playing catch in right field wearing his new colors.
Ironically, that may be the most Kazmir’s former teammates see him throw all weekend. The left-hander, who was traded from the A’s to the Houston Astros late last month, will not pitch in a four-game series between the two teams that begins Thursday after starting for the Astros on Wednesday.
"Kinda," Kazmir said when asked if he’s disappointed about not facing the A’s. "I mean, I like pitching here, but it’s good to have these days off. But it’d be nice facing those guys -- it would’ve been fun."
Kazmir allowed four runs in Houston’s loss to the Rangers on Wednesday, but only one was earned, so his ERA remains at an A.L.-best 2.08 ERA. For the A’s, trading Kazmir was the start of a roster shuffle at the trade deadline geared toward building up their farm system for the future. For Kazmir, it was being thrust into the middle of a playoff race.
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And Kazmir has seemed to handle the transition seamlessly. After making three starts in July for the A’s, he made two more for Houston and finished the month with a 0.26 ERA, earning A.L. Pitcher of the Month honors.
"Maybe just the atmosphere in here, the clubhouse, you know I felt at home from the get-go," Kazmir said. "It felt like an easy transition because I knew some of the guys in here before, either playing with them in the past or just crossing paths, but just from day one I just felt comfortable."
The trade was also a return for Kazmir to his hometown of Houston. He said that part was "a little weird to start off with" -- he’s not used to seeing friends and family much during the season, and now his commute to the ballpark is a 40-minute drive from his home.
"But I can definitely get used to it," Kazmir said.
Kazmir was only in Oakland for a season and a half, but was highly respected and liked by coaches and teammates and was a mentor for some of the A’s younger pitchers, such as Sonny Gray. A’s manager Bob Melvin said the A’s won’t be disappointed about not facing Kazmir in this series, but that it would be "nice to see him."
"For him, I think it allows him to just watch the series, not have to grind too hard on it," Melvin said. "Sometimes when you pitch against a team that you were with, it could go either way -- you could have a little added incentive, or just maybe some distractions you normally don’t have.
"I’m sure he looks a little different without the white shoes and without the green and gold. But other than that, when he pitches against us, we wish him the best. He had a big impact on a lot of guys here and is a true pro."
* Mevin said both Coco Crisp (neck) and Josh Reddick (back) are "full-go" Thursday after being held out of the starting lineup Wednesday.
Crisp may have tweaked his neck on a diving catch Tuesday. Balancing his playing style with the A’s desire to keep Crisp on the field has been an ongoing issue, and Melvin was asked Thursday about the possibility of Crisp trying to slide feet-first more while running the bases going forward. Melvin said it’s sometimes a "natural reaction" to dive into the bag head-first, but "if anybody can (change), it’s him -- he’s aware of it."
* A’s fans get a first-hand look this series at Houston phenom Carlos Correa, a shortstop who, called up two months ago at age 20, already has 13 home runs and 34 RBIs. Correa is batting third for the Astros in the opener.
"It’s been two months but it looks like he has numbers that he’s been here four months," Melvin said. "It’s not often you see that young a player put right in the third spot in the lineup with a good offensive team. He’s come as advertised, if not better."
The Astros overall look a little different than last time they played the A’s. At the trade deadline, Houston added both Kazmir and center fielder Carlos Gomez, while infusing Correa has made their lineup all the more dangerous. After going into the All-Star Break on a skid, the Astros have re-taken first place in the A.L. West and enter Thursday at 11 games over .500.
"What was a good club when we saw them," Melvin said, "certainly better now."
* The A’s lineup against Astros right-hander Scott Feldman:
And the Astros’ lineup against A’s right-hander Aaron Brooks: