San Francisco Giants

A's Doolittle, Crisp inch closer to returns

OAKLAND -- There were injury updates aplenty this morning from the A’s, and most were positive. First, closer Sean Doolittle (strained intercostal muscle) played long toss this morning and, according to manager Bob Melvin, "felt great." Doolittle is scheduled to rest Thursday and the A’s will re-evaluate him Friday.

"Encouraging to see that he feels as good as he does," Melvin said.

Coco Crisp "felt pretty good yesterday" after another round of trigger-point injections for his strained neck. Melvin said he’s hopeful "we have a chance on Friday" for Crisp to be at least available when the A’s start a home series against the Houston Astros.4

Nick Punto (strained hamstring) also received a shot a couple days ago and hasn’t been doing a lot of activity while letting the soreness dissipate. The last big box for Punto to check off is running full-speed, which the A’s hope he’ll be able to do Friday.

Finally, catcher John Jaso (concussion) took on-field batting practice Tuesday for the first time since his injury and felt "a lot better," though still "a little foggy." Jaso may be close to returning as a pinch hitter or DH, but Melvin made it sound doubtful that Jaso is going to catch again this season.

The A’s throw their left-handed-heavy lineup out today against Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who’s coming off his worst start of the season (seven innings, five runs and 10 hits allowed against Washington) but still sporting a 2.23.ERA on the season. Melvin bumped Josh Reddick up to the No. 2 spot in the order today. His reasoning:

"With the dynamic of our lineup, as many lefties, you want to break it up If he’s swinging the bat well, he’s an option in the two-hole, and recently he’s been swinging the bat pretty well."

The full A’s lineup against Hernandez:

CF Fuld

RF Reddick

3B Donaldson

DH Dunn

LF Moss

SS Lowrie

1B Vogt

C Norris

2B Sogard

And the Mariners’ lineup against A’s left-hander Jon Lester:

CF Jackson

LF Denorfia

2B Cano

1B Morales

3B Seager

DH Hart

C Zunino

RF Romero

SS Taylor

It’s obviously a marquee pitching matchup today at the Coliseum, with the owners of the second-best ERA in the A.L. (Hernandez) and fourth-best (Lester) facing off. When the A’s traded for Lester, general manager Billy Beane invoked Hernandez’s name as one of the few true aces in baseball right now, and said the A’s were getting a pitcher like that in Lester. They made the move for games like today.