Oakland A's

A’s Bob Melvin keeps hitless Coco Crisp in leadoff spot

Oakland Athletics' Coco Crisp in action against the Seattle Mariners in a baseball game Friday, May 8, 2015, in Seattle.
Oakland Athletics' Coco Crisp in action against the Seattle Mariners in a baseball game Friday, May 8, 2015, in Seattle. AP

Coco Crisp has never started a season like this – in fact, he’s never had a stretch like this at any time in his career.

The A’s left fielder is hitless in his first 25 at-bats since returning from elbow surgery, and going back to last season the drought is 38 at-bats. It’s the longest hitless streak of Crisp’s career and the second longest by an A’s player.

Yet Crisp remained atop the A’s lineup for Wednesday’s series finale against the Boston Red Sox. You’ll hear manager Bob Melvin and players refer to Crisp as the A’s “sparkplug” – Stephen Vogt even said it Tuesday night – and Melvin said he’s confident Crisp will click soon.

“You always expect him to,” Melvin said. “Even though I know he’s 0-for-20-whatever, I still feel like he’s going to get a hit when he goes up there. I wouldn’t have him leading off today if I didn’t think so.”

Crisp was robbed of a hit by Mike Napoli on Monday night that would have scored two runs.

“It’s not like he’s striking out (and) flailing at pitches, swinging at balls out of the zone,” Melvin said. “He’s just getting a little unlucky; he’s hitting some balls on the ground, and you get a little frustrated after awhile when you’re not seeing the results. But he’s a key guy for us. My feeling is he just needs to get a hit and get it out of the way, and just play.”

Crisp looked sharp defensively Tuesday night, throwing out Dustin Pedroia at second base in the first inning for his first assist since 2013 and a good test of his arthroscopic surgery-repaired right elbow. He’s two hitless at-bats, though, from tying the A’s record of 40 straight by Jose Canseco in 1986.

The A’s lineup Wednesday behind Sonny Gray:

LF Crisp

SS Semien

RF Reddick

DH Butler

3B Lawrie

1B Canha

C Phegley

CF Burns

2B Sogard

The Red Sox lineup behind left-hander Wade Miley:

CF Betts

2B Pedroia

DH Ortiz

LF Ramirez

3B Sandoval

SS Holt

1B Nava

RF Bradley

C Leon

▪ Melvin said he considered playing American League RBI leader Stephen Vogt but elected to give Vogt the day off partly because the A’s are still mindful of Vogt returning from offseason foot surgery.

“There are days he’s still a little sore, and we knew that,” Melvin said. “With the off-day (Thursday), I kind of considered him, but he still gets a little bit sore when he’s running out there several days in a row. We have to be careful with him and not overdo it, especially the way he’s performing right now.”

Melvin said Ike Davis (quad) would be a game-time decision coming off the bench.

▪ Second baseman Ben Zobrist took batting practice and ground balls on the field before Tuesday’s game and could be close to a rehab assignment, Melvin said. Zobrist will get more field work during the homestand, and Melvin said there’s the possibility of Zobrist starting a rehab stint when the A’s hit the road Monday.

“I’m not sure which day, but he looks really good,” Melvin said. “He looks like he has recovered pretty quickly.”

▪ Melvin praised reliever Fernando Rodriguez, who threw a nine-pitch scoreless inning Tuesday night. Rodriguez hasn’t allowed a run in four outings and has allowed one hit and struck out seven in five innings. Melvin said the right-hander already has worked himself into a late-innings role in the A’s struggling bullpen.

“He’s a guy we’re going to use when we’re ahead; we’re going to use him late in games,” Melvin said. “Based on what we have going on, he deserves to be there.”

Melvin also was asked about Fernando Abad, who has a 5.59 ERA and has been susceptible against left-handed hitters – a problem, since Abad is the only lefty in the bullpen. Left-handers are 8 for 22 against Abad with six extra-base hits.

“I trust Fernando Abad,” Melvin said. “He is our guy for the tough left-handers – not just left-handers, but the tough left-handers. He’s off to a little bit of a slow start; he’s not the only one. But we’ve seen the velocity pick up a little bit. I think he’s kind of reaching out and extending a little bit more, maybe was cutting off some of his pitches earlier.

“I really like Fernando as a person and he’s done such a great job for us as a pitcher. You can’t help but trust a guy like that. He’s got good stuff, he fits in really well here, he’s well-liked by the guys. He’s been a great performer for us. Just because he’s off to a slow start doesn’t mean you walk away from a guy like that.”

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