OAKLAND -- Stephen Vogt makes his third career start in right field tonight for the A’s, and while manager Bob Melvin said that’s partly to get another left-handed bat in the lineup against Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, it’s also an attempt to tap any kind of bat that’s making solid contact for the A’s right now.
Several of the A’s key hitters are in slumps, including Josh Donaldson (0-for-27), John Jaso (0-for-17) and Jed Lowrie (5-for-33). Vogt went 9-for-25 on the A’s recent road trip, which makes him red-hot by the A’s standards right now. Melvin did say that Vogt has also earned some confidence defensively in right by his first couple of appearances there, including one in Yankee Stadium.
Vogt has never faced Kuroda in the regular season. Of the A’s hitters, Jaso has arguably the best numbers against Kuroda for his career -- 4-for-13 with two walks. Otherwise, the New York right-hander who relies heavily on a mix of sinkers and sliders and is rarely predictable in certain counts has for the most part held the A’s hitters at bay.
Eric Sogard returns to the A’s lineup tonight after being held out Friday to rest his right ankle. Sogard fouled a ball off the ankle during the A’s series opener in Los Angeles and said while he did play later in the series, the ankle swelled up and began to bother him fairly badly. He said the day off Friday helped, and the ankle feels "much better."
Here’s the full A’s lineup tonight against Kuroda:
And the Yankees’ lineup against A’s left-hander Scott Kazmir:
* Josh Reddick (hyper-extended knee) was scheduled to take batting practice on the field today and do a little more running before the game. Melvin said he didn’t know whether Reddick would practice turning on the basepaths, which will be a major test for his knee. So far Reddick has only run straight sprints.
Melvin said the A’s will discuss "in the near future" whether Reddick will need a rehab assignment before rejoining the team, and reiterated that it’s probably a good idea "when you’ve sat that long not seeing live pitching."
* Reliever Eric O’Flaherty is scheduled to make his second no-holds-barred rehab outing Sunday for Triple-A Sacramento. O’Flaherty pitched a scoreless inning for the River Cats on Wednesday in his first rehab appearance.
* The A’s announced this morning they’d traded outfielder Michael Taylor to the White Sox for right-handed pitcher Jake Sanchez. Neither player was on their respective team’s 40-man roster.
Taylor was in his fifth season in the A’s organization, during which he was a mainstay at Triple-A Sacramento. He departs as the River Cats’ franchise leader in games played (511), at-bats (1,900), hits (521) and RBIs (325).
Obviously that’s a bit of a dubious honor. Taylor had a handful of brief stints in Oakland -- he batted .135 in 81 plate appearances for the A’s from 2011-13 -- but never stayed at the big-league level for long. He had a strong spring training this year -- leading to some speculation another team would pick him up when the A’s designated him for assignment with the 28-year-old out of options -- but he cleared waivers and wound up back with the River Cats for a fifth consecutive year.
Taylor was easy to root for -- articulate, well-liked in the clubhouse -- and Melvin said a fresh start might be good for the outfielder.
"Sometimes a change of scenery invigorates a guy -- you feel like you have kind of new life to an extent," Melvin said. "So we wish him the best. He’s done a great job for us at Triple-A, had a good spring for us this year. There just wasn’t room for him. But an easy guy to manage, a hard-working kid, and hopefully this opportunity somewhere else is what he needs."
* The A’s send perhaps their most consistent starter to this point of the season to the hill tonight in Kazmir, who has allowed two earned runs or fewer in nine of his first 13 starts and comes in 7-2 with a 2.20 ERA. That includes a 1.67 ERA and .195 opposing batting average over his last six starts.