How A's can make September a meaningful month

OAKLAND -- While most of baseball continues to concentrate on the 2016 season, the A's will be one of a minority of major league teams whose primary focus will be on the future.

"It's fair to say a lot of September will be about evaluating players for next year and beyond,'' A's general manager David Forst said Thursday. "Some of the players we're talking about are already here.''

More will be coming with rosters expanding this month, from 25 players to as many as 40.

The elevation of Ryon Healy to starting third baseman after the All-Star break was the beginning. Outfielder Brett Eibner and infielders Chad Pinder and Joey Wendle also have been added.

Advertisement

Healy, 24, has started all but one of the A's 44 games since the All-Star break, a period of time in which Oakland is 19-25 and has fallen into last place in the American League West. The A's are 57-76 and trail the division-leading Texas Rangers by 22 games.

With the exception of the Los Angeles Angels, whom the A's play six times in September, the other opponents on Oakland's schedule this month are in first place or within four games of a wild-card berth, beginning with the Boston Red Sox, who visit the Coliseum for a three-game series beginning Friday night.

Baseball tradition says teams not in contention owe it to clubs that are to put their best players on the field, but that can be tricky when looking toward the future.

"We will be putting our best foot forward,'' Forst said. "We believe we can compete and evaluate at the same time.''

Don't look for an influx of new A's right away.

Reliever Sean Doolittle will come off the disabled list Friday, and the A's prefer to carry three catchers, so the elevation of Matt McBride from Nashville is probable. Beyond that, the Sounds roster is likely to stay intact. Nashville is 82-57 and headed to the Triple-A post-season.

"We are going to have to pick and choose,'' Forst said. "We will be respectful of Nashville's season and their playoff run. Those games are important for them and for the development process. We will see guys arrive in stages, not in a big wave.''

Here's a look at what to expect from the A's in the coming month:

Meanwhile, Renato Nunez hit 23 homers for the Sounds, and will probably get a look. He's primarily a third baseman, so it's possible Healy will get some time at first.

The 27-year-old Eibner has impressed the club in left and right. Muncy will get most of his remaining playing time this season in the outfield, too, which means A's home run leader Khris Davis could spend more time at D.H.

Cotton, 24, was picked up when Rich Hill and Josh Reddick were traded to the Dodgers. He has a 3-1 record and just missed pitching a perfect game in Nashville. He'll probably stay with the Sounds into the playoffs.

One-time top prospect Raul Alcantara, 23, is healthy again, and he has been stunning at Triple-A with a 4-0 record and 1.18 ERA in eight starts since making the jump from Double-A.

Daniel Mengden (8-2, 1.67) likely will be called up to make Saturday's start against the Red Sox.

Righty Jesse Hahn, who's on an injury rehabilitation assignment, and lefty Dillon Overton are likely recalls. The A's are hopeful Sonny Gray will come off the D.L. to make a start before the season is over.

For more on the A's, see John Hickey's Inside the A's blog at . Follow him on Twitter at .