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Oakland Athletics Notes: Paul Blackburn to debut

OAKLAND — Paul Blackburn will make his major-league debut on Saturday, while Matt Chapman is working his way back to a return to the field. That and more Oakland A’s notes.

Starter Paul Blackburn. / Photo by Chris Lockard
Paul Blackburn will make his major-league debut on Saturday. / Photo by Chris Lockard

The Oakland Athletics made plenty of news before their game against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Cotton scratched, Blackburn to debut

Scheduled Saturday starter Jharel Cotton has been scratched with the hope being that he’ll only be pushed back a couple of days. Paul Blackburn, the Brentwood native and Heritage High grad acquired in the Danny Valencia deal during the offseason, will make his big-league debut in his stead.

“We’re not DL’ing him as we sit here right now,” Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Cotton. “Just trying to push him back potentially a couple more days. We feel like he’s making progress to where he can go out there and throw a full complement. As of tomorrow, we weren’t sure if he’d be able to throw 100 pitches or so, so hopefully a couple more days.”

Blackburn, who is currently second in the PCL in ERA, was named to the Pacific Coast League All-Star team earlier in the week. He flew to Oakland on Friday to meet the team ahead of his Saturday start.

“It’s exciting,” Blackburn said of his upcoming debut. “I haven’t really been able to take everything in. Right now it still feels kind of like a dream. It’s awesome. I’m excited for it.”

East Bay native Paul Blackburn zeroing in on Bay Area return

Melvin had a chance to see Blackburn this spring.

“He showed some subtle movement on his sinker. Had a pretty good curveball, pretty good change,” Melvin said. “We’ll probably know a little more about him after tomorrow. When you trade someone like Danny Valencia for him, you expect him to pitch for you at some time in the big leagues.”

Blackburn, 23, was a 2012 Compensation Round A selection of the Chicago Cubs out of high school. He has a career 3.21 ERA in 496.2 minor league innings.

Chapman making progress towards a return

Matt Chapman went through a full complement of baseball drills today, including batting practice and ground balls. Melvin says Chapman will do the same drills tomorrow. If all goes well, maybe Chapman might head out on a short rehab assignment, providing these next two days go well for him. The A’s 2014 first-round pick has been sidelined with an infection in his left knee since June 19. He had three hits and two walks over his first four games in the big leagues.

Chapman didn’t travel with the team on their most recent roadtrip and he spent most of that time in the hospital fighting the infection. Chapman is excited to be back with his teammates. He says that since there was no real “injury” that he and the team are taking it day-to-day. He’ll be listening to his body, and listening to what the doctors say. “There’s really no timetable for it.”

When asked what he was allowed to do while he’s been out, Chapman said “not too much. Bedrest, elevate [the knee], take antibiotics and watch my team on TV.”

The perspective that Chapman showed at such a young age was impressive.

“It’s just one of those things. Everybody thinks that it’s just baseball, baseball, baseball, but real things happen to people and that’s life,” Chapman said. “Obviously if I had it my way, I would have never had this, and I would have went on the road trip and finished playing the last couple series with the guys and been healthy, but that’s just the way it goes.”

Other injury updates

  • First baseman Yonder Alonso is on the mend after fouling a ball off of his knee on Wednesday. He took some ground balls today and hit a little bit. Alonso felt pretty good, but not enough to start the game today. The A’s are hoping to get him into the lineup for Saturday’s game.
  • Both Kendall Graveman (shoulder) and Ryan Dull (knee) threw bullpen sessions today, right around 20 pitches.  Both felt good afterwards.
  • Rehabbing right-hander Chris Bassitt (Tommy John) could be used as a bullpen option when he’s ready to join the A’s. He threw an inning for the Stockton Ports on Wednesday.

Melvin says Vogt in good hands

Melvin and Brewers manager Craig Counsell have talked since Milwaukee claimed Stephen Vogt.

“Vogt-er is in good hands. It’s a great place for him to land, on a team that’s in contention,” Melvin said. “They’ve got a lot of younger guys, and he’s also instrumental in the clubhouse dynamics.”

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