OAKLAND -- Following a three-game series in which they scored seven total runs while being swept by the Kansas City Royals, the A’s will spend the next three days contending with arguably the hottest offensive team in the National League.
The Colorado Rockies, who begin a three-game series at the Coliseum on Monday night, lead all N.L. teams in June in runs scored (137) and OPS (.784), and are tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the most home runs (33). They’re led by the most recent N.L. Player of the Week, third baseman Nolan Arenado, who in his last six games has seven homers and 14 RBIs.
Yes, the Rockies’ offensive numbers are often inflated by their home park. But Arenado has been an exception during his breakout season: 15 of his 24 home runs have come on the road. Overall, the 24-year-old is hitting .293 with 24 homers and 68 RBIs. He’ll be in the cleanup spot for the Rockies in the series opener, with manager Walt Weiss saying he wants to make sure Arenado sees some pitches to hit batting ahead of Carlos Gonzalez.
"He’s some kind of locked in," Weiss said of Arenado.
A’s manager Bob Melvin agreed, having scouted Arenado a little before this series.
"He’s probably as high up on the list … as anybody, power-wise, in the game," Melvin said.
The Rockies have a potent middle of the order -- Troy Tulowitzki, Arenado and Gonzalez -- and an offense that doesn’t seem to match their 33-42 record. A reason: Their pitching staff has the majors’ worst ERA at 5.47. Weiss, who called the Coliseum home during his playing days with the A’s from 1987-92, said his memory of the place -- and its copious foul territory in particular -- is that, "You’re going to steal a few outs" as a pitcher.
The A’s lineup for Monday’s season opener:
And the Rockies’ lineup against A’s right-hander Kendall Graveman:
* On the injury front, Melvin said that reliever Pat Venditte played catch with both arms Monday, 40 throws from each side. Reliever Taylor Thompson, who has been on the DL all season with a shoulder injury, threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session but is still a "little ways away from throwing to hitters."
* MLB released its latest vote totals for the All-Star Game, and the only position player from the A’s among the leaders is Stephen Vogt, who ranks third among catchers with about 5.4 million votes. That’s less than half the total of leader Salvador Perez, despite Vogt’s better numbers in most offensive categories.
Josh Reddick ranks 11th among A.L. outfielders with about 2.6 million votes. This was the last voting update before the final totals are announced Sunday.
* Reliever Phil Coke, whom the A’s recently signed to a minor-league deal, made his first appearance with Single-A Stockton on Saturday and pitched one scoreless inning with one hit allowed. Melvin said the report was that Coke, an MLB veteran whom the A’s might look at for major-league bullpen depth, was at 91-93 miles per hour on the radar gun and "got a couple quick ground-ball outs."
* Mark Canha has seen his playing time dwindle since Ike Davis’ return from injury and with Sam Fuld hitting better and playing consistently in left field. Melvin said that Canha remains a lineup fixture against left-handed pitching and an option off the bench, but he acknowledged Canha hasn’t had many pinch-hit opportunities, either.
"It’s tough, he can impact the game for us and he’s shown that," Melvin said of Canha, a rookie. "This is just a period of time where he’s got to keep working and wait until his number’s called again."
* Weiss, talking with reporters in the visiting dugout before Monday’s game, said he had not been at the Coliseum in years. He thought his last visit was for a 20-year reunion for the 1989 World Series championship team in 2009.
"I’ve seen some of the same faces, believe it or not," Weiss said.
Weiss said he still has "a lot of great memories" from the Coliseum, foremost being the outcome of that 1989 World Series in which the A’s swept the San Francisco Giants.
"I still see the last play in my head a lot," Weiss said. "Celebrating right by the first-base line, I remember that vividly."
That Series, of course, was interrupted by the Loma Prieta Earthquake, which Weiss said lent "a uniqueness to that World Series, unfortunately." He said that whenever that Series comes up, though, people remember it.