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OAKLAND – Adam Dunn is in the A’s lineup Friday at designated hitter, a change of direction from the plan to use the left-handed slugger solely against right-handers.
Dunn, who has compiled just 52 at-bats against left-handers this season, is hitting sixth against Houston Astros lefty Brett Oberholtzer, behind cleanup hitter Derek Norris and left fielder Jonny Gomes.
The A’s really have nothing to lose offensively right now as they try to halt a late-season skid that leaves their postseason status very much in limbo. The righty-dominated lineups they’ve run out against lefties have struggled over the season’s second half, and overall, the A’s are hitting just .215 over the past 20 games. In four of the past six games, they’ve been held to one run or fewer.
“We do have some guys that are still struggling offensively,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said before Friday’s game. “But this is a time that we need to come out of it some, and having him in the lineup today gets another guy in there that’s swinging the bat well, even though it’s against some of the fundamental things that we do (as far as platooning).”
Melvin wouldn’t say how much Dunn will play against lefties moving forward. Oakland is scheduled to face a lefty Sunday in Dallas Keuchel and another one Tuesday in John Danks of the Chicago White Sox.
The A’s also are getting a boost Friday night from the return of center fielder Coco Crisp. The switch-hitting leadoff man missed the previous five games after re-injuring his neck when he slammed into the outfield wall last Friday in Anaheim. Crisp received trigger point injections in his neck a couple days ago – the injections are a mixture of saline and anesthetic and hydrate the neck muscles to loosen them up – and they did the trick a few weeks back when a strained neck sidelined him for several games in a row.
As for other injury updates, first baseman Stephen Vogt will be out several more days with a sprained left ankle. Melvin said Vogt will refrain from any baseball activity during this series.
Closer Sean Doolittle is scheduled to throw a flat-ground pitching session Saturday. That would suggest the lefty could be throwing off the mound soon as he recovers from a strained intercostal (side) muscle. Melvin said Doolittle likely would need to throw one or two times off the mound before the team would consider activating him from the disabled list.
Catcher John Jaso (concussion) was scheduled to run the bases Friday, and if that goes well, Melvin said he’d be close to coming off the D.L. The plan is to use Jaso strictly as a D.H. and pinch-hitter and not as a catcher, so as to avoid the risk of him taking another foul tip off the mask.
Infielder Nick Punto (strained right hamstring) is getting closer to returning too. He was scheduled to run full speed Friday, something he must do pain-free before he comes back. Punto has been hitting and taking grounders for some time now.