OAKLAND -- A reeling A’s team coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the last-place Texas Rangers gets a potential shot in the arm tonight with the return of Stephen Vogt to the lineup.
Vogt will make his first start since spraining his ankle Sept. 3, as the A’s open a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies, their final interleague series this season. Vogt did appear two days ago as a pinch-hitter, drawing a walk in his only plate appearance.
"He’s been a sparkplug for us, is a tough out, a grinder," said manager Bob Melvin. "So it’s nice to get him back in the lineup."
Vogt ostensibly strengthens the A’s lineup against right-handed pitching. He’s batting .316 with eight of his nine home runs on the season against righties. He was, however, in a bit of a slump before injuring his ankle, batting .213 over his last 31 games.
Defensively, Vogt is not fully back. Melvin reiterated what he’s been saying for the past couple weeks -- Vogt, limited by a bone bruise in his foot and now the sprained ankle -- will not catch again this season, and Melvin added it’s unlikely Vogt will play the outfield either. That limits Vogt to first base, where he starts tonight.
Josh Reddick remains out with neck and ankle soreness after taking a spill at first base on Wednesday night, but could be an option as a pinch hitter. Reddick said the neck pain -- just above his right shoulder -- is the bigger issue right now and he feels it "grab" when he swings a bat. He planned to skip batting practice today, but Melvin said Reddick hit in the cage and "feels a lot better."
Here’s the full A’s lineup against Phillies right-hander David Buchanan:
And the Phillies’ lineup against A’s left-hander Jon Lester:
* Melvin said outfielder Craig Gentry’s status remains unchanged. Gentry (concussion) was still having headaches last night and is not doing any baseball activities.
* After being swept by the Rangers, the A’s are now 11-25 since Aug. 10, at which point they led the A.L. West by four games, the Wild Card race by 11 games and were 28 games over .500. They awoke today barely clinging to the second Wild Card spot, a game ahead of the Seattle Mariners. It’s the first time the A’s haven’t held at least a share of the West lead or the first Wild Card since April 5 -- five games into the season.
"Certainly the (Rangers) series didn’t go anywhere close to the way we wanted it, coming home after playing a couple good games against Seattle," Melvin said. "But there’s nothing we can do about it but turn the page and try to have a positive outlook today."
* Melvin was asked if he’s scoreboard-watching with the A’s in their current situation.
"I hate looking at the scoreboard, to tell you the truth," he said. "It’s just another distraction you don’t need."