GLENDALE, Ariz. -– With closer Sean Doolittle sidelined for the start of the regular season with a shoulder injury, the A’s need their other late-inning relievers to start rounding into form.
Such isn’t the case right now with Ryan Cook, and manager Bob Melvin spoke frankly about it following a 10-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday. Cook allowed four hits in one-third of an inning – including a grand slam to non-roster infielder Darnell Sweeney -- and was charged with six of the eight runs the Dodgers struck for in the eighth. Ryan Verdugo followed Cook and allowed a three-run homer and a solo shot.
It was the second consecutive shaky outing for Cook. He also gave up four hits in one inning of work Friday in a split-squad game against the Cubs, though the three runs charged to him in that game were unearned.
“He just wasn’t throwing the ball over the plate, and when he did, they hit it,” Melvin said of Monday’s outing. “He’s gotta iron that out.”
Melvin was asked if it was a mechanical issue with Cook.
“I don’t know,” the manager said. “The last two, he hasn’t been able to stop the bleeding, and he’s good enough to be able to do that.”
Cook has allowed 11 hits over 3 1/3 innings in four spring appearances.
DROPPING LUMBER: Some tinkering at the plate seems to have worked for Josh Phegley. The A’s catcher homered to left-center off Zack Greinke in his first at-bat Monday, then doubled to the opposite field to drive in two more runs in his next at-bat. Phegley said it was the payoff from work he’s put in with hitting coach Darren Bush.
“Me and Bushie were working on a little adjustment as far as staying back,” Phegley said. “I’ve been a mile a minute in the box the last few games, not waiting on pitches. I made a slight adjustment the last couple of days, and today was a day I could test it out. That was the result so I feel pretty good about it.”
Phegley is showing enough with the bat and behind the plate for the A’s to feel good about the plan of platooning him with Stephen Vogt.
FLASHING LEATHER: Craig Gentry made a nice play in center, running down Adrian Gonzalez’s deep fly to the wall in the fourth. That helped out A’s starter Kendall Graveman, a ground-ball pitcher who let the Dodgers’ No. 3 hitter get under one in that instance.
FAMILIAR FACE: Former A’s starters Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy both are current members of the Dodgers’ pitching staff, though neither faced Oakland on Monday.
One pitcher who did get in the game was Chad Gaudin, who was with the A’s from 2006-08 and again in 2010. Gaudin is on a minor league deal with the Dodgers and threw a scoreless sixth Monday with two strikeouts.
ODDS AND ENDS: Second baseman Ben Zobrist was scratched from the lineup with soreness below his left shoulder blade, but Melvin said after the game it was minor. Zobrist did all pregame activity Monday except take batting practice. “I just wasn’t going to mess with that,” Melvin said of the cautious approach. … Coco Crisp (sore triceps) felt OK after baseball activity Monday and is slated to play left field Tuesday, which would mark his first game since March 8. … First baseman Ike Davis (back soreness) took batting practice but still has to run the bases before returning to the lineup. Melvin mentioned Wednesday as a possibility. … Right fielder Josh Reddick said his strained oblique is feeling better, but the real test will come when he swings a bat. He hasn’t been cleared to do that yet.