OAKLAND — For Wednesday’s early game against the Seattle Mariners, Oakland designated hitter Khris Davis will move from the cleanup spot to the six hole, the first time the slugger has not batted fourth in the A’s lineup since 2016.
Davis is batting .232 with 16 home runs, 45 RBIs and a .721 OPS after a career 2018 in which he led the league with 48 round-trippers. He is 4-for-36 in July with no extra-base hits and has not gone yard in nearly a month — his last homer was on June 18. The designated hitter’s longest homerless streak in 2018 was 18 games.
“Just a change of scenery for Khris,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Sometimes you struggle a little bit and a change of scenery can help.”
Still, Melvin believes Davis will round into form soon enough.
“He’ll be back in the four spot sometime, I have no doubt,” Melvin said. “Just trying to give him a different look.”
Right fielder Stephen Piscotty is making progress in his rehab of a sprained right MCL suffered on June 29 in Anaheim. He ran the bases and made turns on Tuesday.
“He was fine going straight ahead,” said manager Bob Melvin. “[He] maybe felt it a little making some turns so we’re not quite there.”
The plan remains for Piscotty to meet the team in Houston on its next road trip and run the bases there to monitor his condition. If he feels good in Houston, Oakland could send him on minor-league rehab assignment, but Melvin said that the right fielder is “not there yet.”
In what will be Homer Bailey’s first start in an A’s uniform, Josh Phegley will get the start behind the plate. Melvin clarified that the battery has more to do with the opposing pitcher — left-hander Tommy Milone — than it does Bailey.
“It looks like Milone is going to get the bulk of the game,” Melvin said. “[Phegley] is going to get all the left-handed starts and Herrmann is going to get a lot of the starts with righties.”
The Oakland manager wants both of his starting catchers to be comfortable catching Bailey and suggested that each will get his chance.
Melvin also addressed the role that Matt Chapman and Matt Olson have played in the latest A’s hot streak — winning 18 of their last 23 games.
“He is a huge impact,” Melvin said of Olson. “We really felt it when he went down. The minute he got back our defense got better, our offense got better.”
For Chapman, Melvin reserved the highest praise and said that his third baseman “absolutely” deserves to be in the AL MVP conversation.
“He’s made for this,” Melvin said. “He’s just a baseball player. One-hundred percent. He’s the best defender in the game [and] he’s right in the middle of everything we do. There’s some guys that are just made for this and he’s that guy.”