Marcus Semien was brought in to be the A’s everyday shortstop, and thus far he has fulfilled that label. Semien has played every inning of all 22 games this season, including the A’s three extra-inning games, at one of the more demanding positions in the field.
"I’m feeling great," Semien said Wednesday night. "I want to play every day."
Manager Bob Melvin said prior to Wednesday’s game that he’s going to give Semien a day off at some point. The A’s don’t have their next off-day until May 14, and Melvin said of resting Semien: "You don’t want to get to the point where he really needs a day. You want to be proactive about it."
The challenge right now is taking Semien out of the lineup. Semien had three hits in the A’s 6-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night, scoring two of their runs, and is 12-for-29 with five multi-hit games in his last seven games. The A’s haven’t found a steady No. 2 hitter yet this season, but right now Semien looks like their best option.
"He can do a little bit of everything, he runs some, he can play small ball, hit the ball the other way," Melvin said. "He’s good about situationally getting guys over. A lot has to do with how you’re swinging, too, and he’s swinging the bat pretty well."
Ben Zobrist’s knee injury has limited the A’s flexibility some in the middle infield. With no Zobrist, a day off for Semien would mean shifting Eric Sogard to shortstop and Brett Lawrie to second base, with either Max Muncy or Mark Canha filling in at third given the current roster.
Lawrie took ground balls at second during batting practice Tuesday, and Melvin said he will likely get one or two starts there in Zobrist’s absence. "He’s pretty familiar with it," Melvin said of Lawrie. "And he looked pretty comfortable."
But Semien said Wednesday night he won’t be asking for a day off.
"I’ve played seasons where I haven’t taken an inning off for long stretches of time," said Semien. "That’s what I really pride myself on (is) working hard in the weight room, out on the field, so I can be out there day in and day out. Now that I’m getting an opportunity to do that here, I just want to take advantage of it."
Semien collected the A’s first two hits off Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker, singling in the first inning and leading off the fourth with a double off the left-field wall. Stephen Vogt drove him in with an opposite-field single in the fourth, and Semien scored again on Ike Davis’ double after his single led off the sixth.
After the game, though, Semien seemed most concerned about his final at-bat. After the Angels had broken a 3-3 tie with three runs in the seventh, Semien came up with runners on first and third and one out in the bottom of the inning and popped out. Vogt grounded out, and the A’s did not put another runner on base.
"Next time I get in a situation like that, runner in scoring position, I’ve got to do a better job of focusing up," Semien said.
"I felt fine, drove a couple balls to the gap, (but) there’s always something I can do better. As I get more and more at-bats, I start to learn a lot quicker. I’m seeing that right now."
* Semien also had an interesting observation about reigning MVP Mike Trout. Trout had a rough night in Tuesday’s series opener, going hitless with three strikeouts. Wednesday, Trout doubled, homered and drove in three runs.
"I was talking about this a couple days ago with some (teammates), just how some of the best players, they don’t necessarily have the best game, but the next day they come right back," Semien said. "You talk about guys like (Miguel Cabreara), who I saw last year in the A.L. Central a lot, same thing. He’d have one bad game, next day, a totally different guy. I’m trying to learn from players like that to see how they bounce back."
Trout homered in the third inning off A’s starter Jesse Hahn on a mistake fastball that ran back over the plate. He came up with the bases loaded in the seventh and lined a two-run double to left field off Evan Scribner, who’d struck Trout out the night before.
"That’s what he does," Melvin said. "We were in a little bit of a bind there with the bases loaded and nowhere to put him. That’s why he’s the MVP."
* It was another rough night for the A’s bullpen. Ryan Cook was summoned to preserve a 3-3 tie in the seventh and walked his first batter, Matt Joyce, on four pitches. C.J. Cron singled through the right side on a hit-and-run. Cook struck out Chris Iannetta and got to an 0-2 count on Johnny Giavotella before Giavotella beat a 2-2 slider for an RBI single.
"Got him to 0-2 and overthrew the slider multiple times," Cook said of the seven-pitch at-bat. "Tried to back off on the last one and still overthrew it."
Cook said he "put myself in a bad position right from the jump" with the walk to Joyce. Fernando Abad entered to face left-handed Kole Calhoun and walked him, which loaded the bases for Trout. Scribner had struck Trout out on a cutter Tuesday; this time Trout hit his 2-1 cutter into the left-field corner.
It’s the seventh loss this season charged to an A’s reliever, accounting for more than half of their 13 losses. Said Cook of the struggling unit: "I have faith in everybody down there and I think they would say the same. We’re definitely in a little rut, gotta turn it around."
* Hahn mostly settled down after a shaky first inning, when he allowed a two-out, two-run single to Erick Aybar that put the A’s in an immediate hole. Calhoun led off with a single and Hahn appeared to freeze Trout on a two-strike curveball -- but it was called a ball and Trout walked on the next pitch.
"I thought it was a strike, that I had a strikeout there," Hahn said. "But I’ve got to come back and make a good pitch. Can’t really let that bother me in that situation."
Hahn also got ahead of Aybar 0-2, but threw a 1-2 changeup that Aybar slapped to left-center for a single.
"It’s a little bit risky pitch there because he looks to shoot the ball to the left side," Hahn said. "I was hoping to bounce that, then come back inside. It was a good pitch, just not to him."
After missing his last start because of a blister, Hahn said he "felt a little bit out of tune mechanically at first, but I adjusted later in the game. But it was too late." He did say he didn’t have any problems with the area on his right middle finger where the blister had popped up.
"He was a little bit rusty at times," Melvin said. "He’s behind when he comes out, yet he didn’t get a loss. Overall he gives up three runs, hopefully be a little sharper the next time out."
* Angels first baseman Albert Pujols left the game in the sixth inning after he pulled up wincing while running out of the box on a single. The Angels announced Pujols left the game with left hamstring tightness. It’s unlikely he’ll be in the lineup for the series finale Thursday afternoon.
These players will be: Jesse Chavez (0-1, 0.71 ERA), who gets the start for the A’s, and right-hander Garrett Richards (1-1, 3.75) who goes for the Angels. First pitch at 12:35.