San Francisco Giants

Donaldson dropped to sixth in A’s lineup amid ‘frustrating’ slump

OAKLAND -- Josh Donaldson, in the midst of an 0-for-31 slump, is bumped down in the A’s order for today’s series finale against the Yankees. Donaldson is hitting sixth. It’s the first time this season he has hit lower than fourth.

"It’s just a little bit of a change of scenery," manager Bob Melvin said. "I talked to him about it last night, so he was aware."

Melvin said he wanted to "take a little pressure off" of Donaldson, and "it won’t be long" before Donaldson is back in the middle of the order. Donaldson, whose average is down to .250 as a result of the skid, was asked about dropping down and said: "I don’t care."

Donaldson answered a few questions about hitting this morning, but there wasn’t much he could -- or wanted to -- say. The hitless streak is a career long for Donaldson, who hasn’t had many prolonged struggles since becoming the A’s regular third baseman.

"I think I’m human, so it is frustrating," Donaldson said. "We’ll see what today brings."

Read more: Yankees’ Jeter left good impressions in Oakland

Saturday night, Melvin had indicated he might give Donaldson a day off, but said today it is difficult to take Donaldson out of the lineup totally because he gives the A’s so much defensively at third base as well. Melvin said it’s incumbent on hitters around Donaldson to "pick up the load as well."

It seemed that Donaldson’s frustrations might have boiled over Saturday night as he was ejected by home plate umpire Hal Gibson in the seventh inning. But Donaldson today said he was surprised by the ejection.

"I asked (Gibson) a question," Donaldson said. "That’s it.

"It was a normal question. I was as thrown off as you guys were."

Donaldson clearly hadn’t liked a third strike call in his fifth-inning at-bat, though he did obviously did not earn an ejection then. Melvin, who joined the conversation as Gibson threw Donaldson out, said Donaldson did not use any expletives that might have led to a quick decision to eject him.

"I mean, technically when you’re talking around balls and strikes, it always gives the umpire an avenue to throw you out," Melvin said.

"Based on the conversation that was happening, I was surprised, yet not surprised."

* Here’s the full A’s lineup today against left-hander Vidal Nuno:

CF Crisp

LF Gentry

DH Cespedes

C Norris

SS Lowrie

3B Donaldson

RF Moss

1B Blanks

2B Punto

And the Yankees’ lineup against A’s right-hander Jesse Chavez:

LF Gardner

SS Jeter

CF Ellsbury

1B Teixeira

C McCann

DH Beltran

RF Suzuki

2B Solarte

3B Johnson

* Melvin said Josh Reddick (hyper-extended knee) could begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento as early as Tuesday. Reddick will work out with the A’s Monday, and the team will decide if he’s ready.

It doesn’t sound as if the A’s will rush Reddick back from that assignment. After a long layoff, Reddick and the A’s both want the right fielder to regain his timing at the plate as fully as possible before he comes back.

"He wants to feel good at the plate, get some at-bats, get some hits," Melvin said. "We want to get him back as soon as possible, but we also want to get him back when he feels good at the plate."

* As mentioned yesterday, reliever Eric O’Flaherty is scheduled to make his second rehab appearance today with the River Cats. Melvin said O’Flaherty will probably stay with Sacramento "for a while" on the team’s upcoming road trip.

* Chavez has come back down to earth a little since his remarkable April, going 3-4 with a 4.07 ERA in seven starts in May and June. He still ranks ninth in the American League with a 3.04 ERA, and will try to pitch the A’s to a series win today.