A’s reliever John Axford struggles to find good grooveMany scouts have turned out to check out the back end of Oakland’s bullpen before the trade deadline at the end of the month, and while Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle are sure to garner interest, John Axford probably would be a long-shot for contenders at this point.Axford has a 5.95 ERA, highest among the regulars in the A’s bullpen, and he has allowed at least one run in three consecutive outings.Monday, he walked four batters and threw more balls (18) than strikes (15).“He’s not throwing the ball where he wants to, you see the ball-strike ratio and walking guys,” manager Bob Melvin said.For a veteran guy who’s done this awhile, he’s always walked a few guys but maybe a few more so now and putting himself in some tough spots.Outfielder Jake Smolinski, who had shoulder surgery in March, is doing sock throws and said he’s scheduled to begin throwing a baseball after the All-Star break. ...Right-hander Andrew Triggs has played catch each of the past two days and he said his activity level is being increased to see how his left hip injury responds.Surgery remains an option; should he need the torn labrum repaired, Triggs hopes to be ready for spring training. ...Right-hander Bobby Wahl is throwing long toss but he is not yet throwing off the mound; he hopes to do so next week.Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.Entering Tuesday, home runs accounted for 178 of Oakland’s 355 runs, 50.The Oakland record for highest percentage of runs scoring on homers is 46.3 percent in 1996.
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- A’s reliever John Axford struggles to find good groove
By Susan Slusser - Tuesday Jul 4, 2017
- Prospects from Sonny Gray trade should bolster A’s future
By Susan Slusser - Monday Jul 31, 2017
Prospects from Sonny Gray trade should bolster A’s futureBilly Beane is crystal clear about the path the A’s are taking, repeatedly discussing the full rebuild the team is undertaking and the need for top young players, with an eye toward opening a new stadium with a good - and stable - core.Oakland’s trade deadline deal reflected that.The last place team sent Sonny Gray, the most coveted starter remaining on the market to the Yankees for three of New York’s top prospects:Dustin Fowler, a center fielder who might be in the A’s 2018 Opening Day lineup; Double-A shortstop Jorge Mateo, who was the key to the deal; and right-hander James Kaprielian.Sonny was a great player for us, but at this point we need a lot of great players, A’s vice president of baseball operations Beane said.There’s a talent deficit that exists right now, and the way to acquire multiple good players is to trade some of the good players you currently have.Gray is young, 27, and he has two more years of service time remaining, one reason he was in demand this month.[...] he spent time on the disabled list last year and this and while his performance has improved enormously since his sub-par 2016, he’s still not quite where he was during his 2015 All-Star season.Fowler, 22, tore a knee ligament one inning into his big-league debut this year, but he is expected to be ready for spring training and will be on the big-league roster.Kaprielian, 23, is coming off Tommy John surgery and should be throwing by next month and potentially pitching in games before the middle of next season.Beane said that the team completed exhaustive medical reviews on both; he doesn’t believe either would have been available had they not been injured."The acquisitions here were meant for the long-term, which is why, had we been in a different spot in our development, we might not have considered somebody like Kaprielian with the Tommy John surgery," said Beane, who noted that Oakland planned to take the UCLA right-hander in the first round of the 2015 draft but the Yankees beat them to him.[...] I think that was us saying, ‘Look, we know this is going to take time, let’s take the best talent available, and we’re willing to wait.Mateo, 22, will report to Double-A Midland, where he will play shortstop, but he also can play center field, and he’s second in the minors with 39 steals.Just an explosive athlete, he can really do a lot of things on the bases.A nice guy to have in the center of the diamond.The A’s weren’t shocked to lose Gray; he’d been followed by scouts for more than a month and was connected to half a dozen teams in rumors.Beane said there was significant interest from many clubs, but Oakland identified the Yankees as the best potential suitors given the strength of New York’s farm system.Contrary to reports out of New York, the A’s were not pressing for top Yankees prospects Clint Frazier and Gleybar Torres, knowing them to be unavailable.Manager Bob Melvin said Gray, who was unavailable for comment, was a little stunned by the news initially because the A’s have been his only organization; Melvin and Gray are close and, he said, "We think of Sonny and how much he meant to this organization and we wish him the best."Deals are still possible after the July 31 should players clear revocable waivers.Jed Lowrie could be moved in order to free up a spot for young second baseman Franklin Barreto, but All-Star first baseman Yonder Alonso might be difficult to get through waivers in order to deal.[...] perhaps, the A’s begin the process of signing some players to long-term deals.There’s an actual timetable they’re looking at for keeping guys.Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.Email: email@example.com Twitter: @susanslusserSonny Gray’s career statsGSERAIPBBTotals
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- A’s want longer look at Blackburn, demote Hahn
By John Shea - Sunday Jul 2, 2017
Hahn was one of Oakland’s most reliable starters in his first 12 games (11 starts), posting a 3.56 ERA while striking out 54, walking 24 and yielding just one home run in 65 2/3 innings.[...] his latest two starts were against the Astros, the league’s best team, and he got rocked for 15 earned runs in four innings, giving up three homers.Manager Bob Melvin said Hahn’s demotion was more about seeing more of Paul Blackburn, who pitched six innings in his major-league debut Friday, surrendering one run in six innings.To fill Hahn’s roster spot, the A’s recalled reliever Zach Neal.Hahn admitted to having “that dead arm feeling” and being a bit tired, which might have been a reason for his velocity dip.“Taking a step back and getting my body right again and making sure I’m 100 percent healthy,” said Hahn, who spent time on the disabled list in late May and early June with a triceps strain.[...] I have to do a better job managing the damage when I don’t feel good in terms of throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters, putting guys away when I have two strikes on them.