SEATTLE — Danny Valencia was a late scratch from the A’s lineup Friday night with neck soreness, as Matt Olson was inserted into right field in his place.
That left Oakland without one of its hottest hitters at a time when the team is struggling to mount some consistent offense. Valencia entered Friday hitting .326 (14-for-43) over his past 12 games, a time during which he’s logged starts at right field, left field and first base.
Manager Bob Melvin said he wasn’t sure whether Valencia would be available off the bench. As for Olson, he’ll be making to look a strong final impression with the major league staff this weekend after receiving his first call-up Sept. 12. He’s just 1-for-13 but has drawn six walks over eight games, including two starts at first and two in right field.
Olson has been a first baseman for the majority of his professional career but spent most of this season playing right field for Triple-A Nashville. He said one adjustment to playing outfield in the majors is judging how well the ball carries. The ball is known to carry quite poorly in Nashville’s home ballpark, so Olson said he found himself going back on balls in the minors before realizing he needed to break in.
Often times the A’s will have to send someone into the stands to retrieve a player’s first career home run ball, and sometimes it takes an exchange of memorabilia in order to get it back. No such work was necessary Thursday when Chad Pinder cleared the left field wall in the sixth off Mariners lefty Ariel Miranda. The ball landed in the visitors’ bullpen, which is stacked on top of the Mariners’ bullpen beyond the left field wall at Safeco Field. John Axford retrieved the ball so Pinder had his keepsake.
In Melvin’s pregame media session, the subject came up of how he sometimes has players take the lineup card out to the umpires. And if the A’s rattle off a couple wins, that player will keep those duties until the team cools off.
Melvin said Kendall Graveman and Stephen Vogt are each hovering around .500 in terms of the team’s record when they deliver the card. A’s fans might just as soon not even read who’s had the most success this season.
“I think Reddick was 14-6,” Melvin said.