Danny Valencia’s absence from the A’s lineup didn’t last long. After he was held out Saturday night with right leg soreness, Valencia is playing third base and hitting fourth for the A’s in their series finale against the Rays this afternoon.
Manager Bob Melvin said Valencia, who did have an MRI, has some tendinitis in his leg in the area behind his right knee.
“Something we’re just going to have to deal with,” Melvin said. “Similar to some of our other guys, we’ll see how they are from day to day, but felt good enough to play today.”
Melvin said Valencia has been dealing with discomfort for a few days but didn’t know when the issue cropped up. He said Valencia is willing to DH or “whatever he can do” to stay in the lineup consistently. Valencia has cooled off a little with the bat the past week but still has four homers and 10 RBIs in 13 games since joining the A’s.
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Coco Crisp, another player the A’s monitor for ongoing injury issues, is not in the lineup Sunday after starting the previous two nights. With Valencia back, Mark Canha, who hit fourth Saturday night and had a home run and a double, moves up to second. The full A’s lineup Sunday against Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi:
And the Rays’ lineup against A’s right-hander Kendall Graveman:
▪ After Saturday night’s ninth-inning loss, Melvin expanded a bit on Sean Doolittle’s role going forward. He said it “would have been nice” to throw Doolittle right back into closer duties, but he didn’t feel comfortable doing so in Doolittle’s first game back from a three-month absence due to a shoulder strain.
“There is a little difference in the intensity when you’re going through a rehab at the minor league level to actually pitching in a big-league game,” Melvin said. “We wanted to monitor him, make sure he gets through a game out there -- not necessarily in a low leverage situation, but not a closing situation. And then we’ll get him back in the closing role as soon as we can.”
▪ With Saturday’s loss still fresh in his mind, Melvin spent more than a half-hour Sunday morning greeting fans who were allowed onto the field around the warning track before the game as part of Fan Appreciation Weekend. Melvin shook hands, posed for pictures and said the response from fans was overwhelmingly positive.
“Just the support, ‘You’re doing a great job,’” he said. “You feel like with the record we have, that you could be doing a better job … Based on the season that we’re having right now, to have that kind of dialogue and support from them really means a lot to me.”
The A’s are 18 games under .500 entering Sunday, and Melvin, a Bay Area native and Cal alum, makes no secret about the pride he takes in managing in Oakland and putting strong performances forward for home crowds. That hasn’t happened this year as it has the past few seasons, and Melvin said he takes both the losses and support to heart.
“I’m extremely honored to be able to manage this team for these people,” he said. “Especially after a game like last night, they can really be uplifting and pick you up and really be supportive. It was a lot of fun doing that today.”