A's MLN: Trio Of Pitchers In AFL Action

Oakland A's prospect Kurt Suzuki made his Arizona Fall League debut behind the plate on Wednesday, and he got to catch a trio of familiar faces. The Phoenix Desert Dogs moved to 2-0 on the season with a one-run win in a high scoring game. Find out what happened in the AFL on Wednesday and all of the other news around the A's organization in this fall league edition of Oakland A's Minor League Notebook...

On Monday, the Phoenix Desert Dogs received significant contributions from Oakland A's prospects in their 11-6 over Mesa. Top prospect Daric Barton had a home run and a double and three runs batted in and Texas League MVP Andre Ethier scored twice. On Wednesday, Barton and Ethier got the day off and the A's other three Desert Dogs made their AFL debuts.

Right-hander Shane Komine got the start for the Desert Dogs and was roughed up for two runs on three hits and a walk in the first inning. Suzuki also had a rough first inning, as he had a throwing error on a steal attempt by Eric Patterson, allowing Patterson to advance to third on the error. Komine settled down after the first inning, retiring the next five batters before allowing a harmless two-out single in the bottom of the third. He retired the first two batters in the bottom of the fourth inning before allowing his fifth and final hit of the game. Komine was lifted (AFL pitchers are on restricted pitch counts), and he was replaced by Midland teammate Matt Lynch after allowing two runs in 3.2 innings.

Lynch, the lefty starter – turned reliever, allowed another single, but got out of the fourth inning when center fielder Jason Pridie and second baseman Tony Abreu combined to throw out the runner trying to advance from first to third. Lynch then allowed two one-out singles in the bottom of the fifth, but he squeezed out of the jam by striking out Ryan Garko and retiring Chris Denorfia on a come-backer to the mound.

Lynch was relieved by yet another Rockhounds' pitcher, this time reliever Shawn Kohn. Kohn came on in the bottom of the sixth with the game tied at two. He had a rough AFL debut, allowing a two doubles and two singles before retiring Eric Patterson on a strikeout for the first out of the inning. After another single, Kohn calmed down to retire the next two batters on a strikeout and a fly out. Kohn's final line was three earned runs on five hits and two strikeouts in one inning of work.

The Desert Dogs got Kohn off the hook for the loss, however, when they came back to score three runs in the top of the seventh. Suzuki jump-started the rally by walking to start the inning. He would later come around to score along with Josh Burrus on Pridie's three-run homerun. The Desert Dogs would add three more runs in the top of the eight and then held on to win the game by a final score of 8-7.

On the day, Suzuki went 0-3 with the walk and a run scored. He allowed two stolen bases and had a throwing error. The A's trio of pitchers allowed five runs in six innings and they struck out and walked one.

Former A's Prospect Mario Encarnacion Passes Away In Taiwan

Mario Encarnacion, who was once one of the A's top prospects, was found dead in his team's dorm in Taiwan over the weekend. Encarnacion was playing for the Macoto Cobras in the Chinese Professional League. He was second in the league in homeruns and seventh in batting at the time of his passing. Encarnacion was 30 years old. The reasons behind his death are still not known, pending an autopsy.

A five-tool prospect, Encarnacion was one of the A's top prospects in the late 1990s. He clubbed 21 homeruns and drove in 88 runs in 1999 for the A's AA and AAA squads. Encarnacion was a good base-stealer and an excellent defensive outfielder. He had a tremendous right-field arm and was considering an up and coming prospect when he was traded to the Colorado Rockies in 2001 as part of the Jermaine Dye-Neifi Perez trade. He debuted with the Rockies in 2001 and hit .226 with three RBI in 20 games. He would return to the big leagues as part of the Chicago Cubs organization in 2002 when he appeared in three games and had seven plate appearances for the Cubs. He would leave minor league baseball after the 2003 season.

Oakland A's Notes

--Oakland A's ace starting pitcher Rich Harden had surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder on Wednesday. The surgery was to reattach a torn labrum in that shoulder. Harden had dislocated it on numerous occasions, including during a game against the San Francisco Giants in 2004. He is expected to be 100% by the start of spring training.

--The A's also announced on Wednesday that they were ending negotiations with manager Ken Macha. Oakland will be looking for its third manager in five years. Macha ends a run of seven years with the organization, the final three as skipper. He had a winning record in all three seasons, although his win total decreased in each of his seasons. The A's have asked all of Macha's coaches to stay on with the team with the exception of hitting coach Dave Hudgens, who was let-go on Monday. Third base coach Ron Washington is the only A's coach under contract for next season, but he is a candidate for a number of managerial openings and could succeed Macha as the A's next manager. Bullpen coach Bob Geren and bench coach Rene Lachmann should also be candidates for the head job.

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