Programming note: Orioles-A’s coverage starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. with A's Pregame Live on CSN California.
OAKLAND – The A’s most recent roster addition, infielder Danny Valencia, is expected to arrive Tuesday, and his presence could mean increased time at second base for Brett Lawrie.
The A’s have the right-handed hitting Valencia, claimed on waivers from Toronto, targeted for playing time against left-handed pitchers. He’s played mostly third base in his career, though he’s also appeared at second among other positions.
Though Lawrie has served as Oakland’s everyday third baseman this year, he did play 38 games at second during his own tenure with the Blue Jays, and he drew one start there earlier this season. Lawrie was working with special instructor Ron Washington at second base before batting practice Monday.
“It just depends on how comfortable Valencia is (at second),” manager Bob Melvin said. “One of them will probably play over there. We’ll see who’s most comfortable.”
Eric Sogard figures to continue getting his share of time at second when the A’s face a right-hander.
Valencia, 30, was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays in the wake of their busy flurry of trades leading up to the deadline. His 2015 numbers are impressive for a waiver-wire pickup -- .296 batting average, seven homers and 29 RBI in 58 games. Though he’s hitting righties better than lefties this season, Valencia is a .326 career hitter against southpaws, attractive numbers for an A’s team that has struggled all season against left-handed starters.
So the A’s roster continues to metamorphosize even after the non-waiver trade deadline has passed. Left fielder Coco Crisp was activated from the disabled list as expected and is batting second Monday against Baltimore, with Jake Smolinski being optioned to Triple-A Nashville.
“He didn’t play his way out of here, it’s just a numbers thing,” Melvin said of Smolinski. “We had thought about potentially going with no extra infielder, but that’s pretty tough to do. Certainly it isn’t anything he did. He impressed us. I certainly expect him back at some point this season, whether it’s September or not.”
There’s an interesting development in the bullpen, with Arnold Leon getting recalled from Nashville and Dan Otero being sent down. With the A’s shifting the focus to the future with their pre-deadline trades, Leon will get a look in the big league bullpen mix.
After spending the past two seasons starting in the minors, the 26-year-old Leon has spent most of this season throwing out of the bullpen at Triple-A,, where he’s 1-4 with a 3.12 ERA. The right-hander is averaging 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.4 walks.
He’s slated to pitch in middle relief, but Melvin said it depends partly on the availability of others on a daily basis.
“We’ve wanted to take a harder look at Arnold,” Melvin said. “He’s been up here a couple times and hasn’t really gotten an opportunity. He’s a little more comfortable in the bullpen now. He’s been a starter in the past.”
Melvin said it was a tough decision to send switch pitcher Pat Venditte to Nashville rather than bring him to Oakland. Venditte, who had been on a rehab assignment as he worked back from a strained right shoulder, was activated from the DL and officially optioned to Triple-A. Part of the thinking had to do with the roster situation. Reliever Evan Scribner, for example, is out of options, so the A’s risk losing him on waivers if they tried to send him down.
In other bullpen news, closer Sean Doolittle will take the next step in his comeback from his own shoulder injury, throwing a simulated game at the Coliseum on Tuesday.