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Oakland A's Notes: A's option Jharel Cotton

The Oakland A's optioned Jharel Cotton. What that might mean for the starting rotation, as well as news on how the A's plan to use Chad Pinder and more...

A's option Cotton to Nashville

With Sean Manaea completing a successful rehab start with Nashville on Tuesday, the Oakland A's made room for his impending return to the active roster by optioning right-hander Jharel Cotton to Triple-A Nashville. Cotton had a 5.68 ERA in seven starts with the A's this season.

Cotton has been up-and-down in his seven outings with the A's, posting three quality starts and four poor outings. In his last start on Tuesday, Cotton allowed seven runs in five innings, including three homeruns, against the Los Angeles Angels. Opposing batters are hitting .282 against Cotton, although he has struck-out 35 in 38 innings. His command hasn't always been sharp, and he has walked 16.

In five starts with the A's last season, Cotton had a 2.15 ERA and a 23:4 K:BB in 25 innings. He struck-out 155 and walked 39 in 135.2 innings in Triple-A last season. Cotton joined the A's in July from the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the Josh Reddick/Rich Hill trade.

The A's didn't announce a corresponding move. Manaea may not be added back to the active roster until his turn in the rotation comes up again. The A's have an off-day on Thursday and, if the A's don't skip a starter, the next open slot for the A's rotation will come on Monday. The A's may be waiting to see how Bruce Maxwell and Josh Phegley are doing physically before making a corresponding move. Phegley is currently on the seven-day concussion disabled list but the A's were hoping to be able to re-activate him on Friday. Maxwell left the A's 3-1 win on Wednesday early for precautionary reasons after he took a foul tip off of the mask. If Maxwell is continuing to feel the effects of that blow, he could switch places with Phegley on Friday.

A's looking to find a spot for Pinder

On Wednesday, the game-winning hit for the A's came off of the bat of Chad Pinder, who hit an opposite-field two-run homerun to give Oakland a 2-1 lead they wouldn't relinquish. Pinder has had only 31 at-bats in 14 games since being recalled to Oakland on April 16, but he has played well when given opportunities. Through Wednesday, he is batting .290/.353/.548 with two homers and two doubles.

Pinder has served a utility role in the field, appearing in games at second base, shortstop and even right field. He has also DH'd on occasion. Pinder is a natural infielder, but he acquitted himself well in a start in right field over the weekend. After Wednesday's game, A's manager Bob Melvin acknowledged that the A's are looking for ways to get Pinder into the line-up. Melvin said Pinder continues to get work in the outfield and the infield before games in order to give the A's different options for getting him into the line-up.

"First and foremost, Pinder is a hitter. In a game like [Wednesday's] when hits are at a premium -- let alone extra-base hits -- he goes opposite field on a ball that was middle-in," Melvin said. "He has a lot of power. You look at his offensive numbers in the minor leagues and there is a reason that he's a big league player."

Melvin upbeat about A's direction after homestand

Heading into the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday night, the A's season looked like it was headed down a bad path. Winners of only two games on a nine-game, three-city roadtrip, the A's returned home with a thud in a 7-2 loss to Detroit last Friday. On Saturday, Oakland looked headed for another defeat, entering the ninth inning down a run. A two-out rally gave the A's a walk-off win and some new life. Starting on Saturday, the A's are now winners of four of five games and three of those wins came on walk-off hits.

As the A's head back on the road on Friday, Melvin acknowledges that the walk-off win last Saturday was a huge boost for the team's morale.

"Before that, things were not going well," Melvin said. "Win two games on a roadtrip and come home and get beat and look lifeless the first game and then we had a walk-off, and then another one and then another. The roadtrip is kind of in the past. It's in the rearview mirror when you win two series in a row."

On Friday, the A's begin a six-game roadtrip against division rivals Texas and Seattle. At 16-18, the A's are percentage points behind the Angels for third place in the AL West. The entire AL West is looking up at the Houston Astros, who are six games ahead of second-place Seattle. The other four teams in the AL West are separated by 2.5 games in the standings. With the A's getting healthier in the starting rotation and hanging around .500, Melvin sees reason for hope for this season.  

"Our defense is still a little bit of a concern for us. There are areas that we can get better, which means I'm optimistic," Melvin said.  

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