Coco Crisp was brief Sunday morning when asked if he feels ready to rejoin the A’s after more than two months on the disabled list.
“Sure,” Crisp said with a shrug.
Crisp has not played for the A’s since May 19 because of a neck strain. But the A’s could activate their erstwhile leadoff hitter on Monday for their series opener against the Baltimore Orioles. Crisp just finished a five-game rehab stint at Class-A Stockton and was back in the A’s clubhouse Sunday morning.
“There’s a good chance we will activate him at some point here real soon,” manager Bob Melvin said.
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When they do, Crisp probably will no longer be in the leadoff spot. That role has been filled by Billy Burns, who’s hitting .299 with 21 stolen bases. Melvin said he has talked with Crisp about the lineup and likes the idea of batting Crisp second behind Burns.
“I think that might help (Crisp) some, in that when Billy’s on base certainly there’s a lot of attention on him,” Melvin said. “Coco’s a pretty good situational guy; he can pull the ball in a hole, maybe see a few more fastballs. Sitting here right now, that’s probably the plan. But he’s open for anything as far as where to hit him in the lineup.”
Between starting the season on the DL following elbow surgery and the neck injury that has sidelined him the past two months, Crisp – who’s in the first year of a two-year, $22.75 million contract extension he signed before the 2014 season – has played in 13 games for the A’s this year and is 2 for 45 with four runs.
Melvin said the A’s won’t feel the need to ease Crisp back into a full schedule when they activate him. The A’s also are not simply looking for Crisp to show he’s healthy and set himself up for a better season in 2016.
“We want production out of him,” Melvin said. “It’s not like, make sure he’s healthy here at the beginning of August and make sure he’s healthy for next season. We’re looking to get something out of him now.”
▪ Before Sunday’s series finale against Cleveland, the A’s activated left-hander Felix Doubront and optioned reliever R.J. Alvarez to Triple-A Nashville to clear a roster spot. Melvin said Doubront will be in the bullpen for now, mostly as a long reliever, but could be called on for an inning or less if needed.
Doubront was starting this year in Toronto and Triple A before the Blue Jays designated him for assignment last week and traded him to Oakland for cash considerations. He said he was happy to get an opportunity with another team and he’s open to any role.
“I was just waiting for somebody to pick me up, and thankfully it was the A’s,” Doubront said Sunday morning. “I feel good; my arm feels good. I’m ready.”
Though a starter for most of his professional career, Doubront has some experience out of the bullpen in Boston in 2014 and toward the beginning of his career in 2010 and 2011. Melvin said it’s typically an “easy transition” from starter to long reliever.
“Anytime you’re pitching potentially more than one inning, it’s nice to have a little more of a repertoire, which he has,” Melvin said. “He’s probably been in this situation before.”
▪ Reliever Pat Venditte also could rejoin the A’s soon. The ambidextrous pitcher threw in games Friday and Saturday and “felt great,” Melvin said. The A’s want to give Venditte at least one day off to see how he feels, but Melvin indicated Venditte’s return could be imminent.
Closer Sean Doolittle, meanwhile, will face hitters in a simulated setting in Oakland in the next few days.
▪ Stephen Vogt, in the midst of an 0-for-25 stretch during which his average has dipped to .262, is out of the lineup Sunday. Vogt said two nights ago he feels “jumpy” at the plate, and Melvin said he has noticed the same thing.
“Sometimes when you’re in a little bit of a slump, especially for a guy like him who’s used to driving in runs, you want to hit the ball before it gets out of the pitcher’s hand,” Melvin said.
“It’s easy to say that; it’s a little tougher to fix it. But he’ll get out of it. ... All it takes for a guy like him is to have a good game under his belt, hit a couple balls hard.”
The A’s lineup Sunday against Cleveland right-hander Trevor Bauer:
And the Indians’ lineup against A’s right-hander Sonny Gray: