Giants & A’s

Matt Kawahara, Bay Area baseball beat writer

A's shuffle rotation ahead of interleague swing

06/22/2014 12:47 PM

06/22/2014 12:53 PM

OAKLAND -- A’s manager Bob Melvin was asked today if he’s looking forward to his team facing former teammate Bartolo Colon when the A’s open a short two-game series against the Mets in New York on Tuesday.

"Yes and no," Melvin said. "I’m looking forward to watching him hit."

Colon’s at-bats have provided their share of entertaining moments. The A’s may be catching him in the middle of a hot streak. Colon hit a double in his last start -- his first hit since 2005. It was also the first extra-base hit of Colon’s career.

Regardless, it won’t be Sonny Gray facing Colon, as the A’s will use their two off-days next week to basically skip Gray’s turn in the rotation and get him a longer rest. The A’s rotation next week, beginning Tuesday, will go Scott Kazmir, Brad Mills, Jesse Chavez, Gray and Tommy Milone.

Melvin said the decision was made to "just give Sonny a little bit of a break. He’s going to have four starts before the (All-Star Break) anyway. We’ll just back it up a little bit and give him a longer stretch between his last start and this one."

Gray has already thrown 99 innings this season, his first full year in the major leagues, after throwing 195 1/3 innings in 2013 between Triple-A and the majors, including the postseason. Melvin said Gray hasn’t shown indications of fatigue or ill effects from his workload; rather, the A’s are making a "precautionary" move.

The rotation shuffle will also give an extra day of rest to Chavez, who Melvin has said is also being targeted for about 200 innings this season after spending last year as a reliever.

It’s Milone going today for the A’s, as they try for a four-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox. Here’s the A’s lineup behind Milone:

CF Gentry

SS Lowrie

LF Cespedes

DH Donaldson

C Norris

1B Blanks

3B Callaspo

RF Vogt

2B Punto

And the lineup for the Red Sox behind left-hander Jon Lester:

RF Holt

3B Bogaerts

2B Pedroia

DH Ortiz

1B Napoli

LF Gomes

SS Herrera

C Ross

CF Bradley

* Brandon Moss gets the day off, in part because the A’s are facing a tough lefty and also because Moss has been playing virtually every day recently. Melvin said Stephen Vogt’s hitting well and showing he can handle right field helps get Moss a break.

Coco Crisp is also out of the lineup after driving in the game-winning run for the A’s in back-to-back games. Melvin said Crisp was actually feeling sick most of Saturday, and has "been dealing with some things here for the last month or so that he continues to go out there and play with." So this gives Crisp a shot at consecutive days of rest with the travel day Monday.

"I’m sure it’s very popular on Coco Gnome day that he’s not in the lineup," Melvin said, referencing the Crisp garden gnomes that were handed out before the game. "Sometimes that’s the way it goes."

* Speaking of hitting pitchers, since the A’s depart Monday to play their next five games in National League cities -- New York and Miami -- Melvin said the A’s starters will be free to swing away when they come up to bat.

"We’re not going to just send them up there," he said.

The starters have taken part in batting practice over the past week. So have any of them opened some eyes?

"Tom Milone’s the guy that has a track record," Melvin said of the lefty, who homered in his first career major-league at-bat. "Sonny Gray thinks that he has quite the chance to be successful. Kazmir’s a little sneaky. So we’ll see."

* In other news, the A’s for the second consecutive year held a charity bowling function to benefit their community fund Saturday night, which explains why Derek Norris was standing by his locker this morning triumphantly holding a huge trophy with a bowler on top of it above his head.

Norris was declared the winner after bowling two games of 255 and 235. Apparently he knows his way around a bowling lane. Norris said he hasn’t bowled a lot over the past 10 years, but growing up one of his friends’ relatives had a lane and they bowled regularly.

"I’ve had a couple games in the 270s in my life," he said.

Melvin vouched for his catcher.

"He’s a legitimate bowler," Melvin said. "(Pitching coach Curt Young is) a good bowler, too. I think he bowled 220-something. We have some guys that are capable."

The A’s said the function raised more than $65,000, which goes toward the A’s activities in the community.

* Milone in his last eight starts is 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA, with the five-decision winning streak matching his career high. In his last two games, he has beaten Texas’ Yu Darvish and Los Angeles’ Jered Weaver.

The A’s, meanwhile, could accomplish something pretty rare today. The last time they swept the Red Sox in a four-game series was Aug. 10-12, 1971, at Fenway Park. To find their last four-game sweep of Boston at home, you have to go back even further -- May 19-21, 1932, when the A’s called Shibe Park in Philadelphia their home.

* One note on the rotation shuffle: Assuming the A’s stay on their new turn, Gray’s last start before the All-Star Break will be July 13 -- the final day before the break, making him highly unlikely to pitch in the All-Star Game if he were to be selected.

* And one more Melvin quote on facing Colon: "We may walk Bartolo intentionally a couple times, just to get him on the basepaths. See him run around a little bit."

About This Blog

Matt Kawahara has covered baseball for The Sacramento Bee for three years. Kawahara, a McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley graduate, joined The Bee in 2010. Before joining Sports, he was a general assignment news reporter. Reach Kawahara at mkawahara@sacbee.com. Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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