Loss of 'good friend' Flanagan stuns Melvin
Former 'mates shared final pitch at Memorial Stadium
NEW YORK -- Following Wednesday's 6-4 win -- his club's second in as many games at Yankee Stadium -- A's manager Bob Melvin found a joyful night turn somber upon learning of the death of friend and former Orioles teammate Mike Flanagan, who was just 59.
The A's skipper, nearly too shocked for words, returned to the ballpark on Thursday morning with fond recollections of Flanagan, a left-handed starter who spent 15 of his 18 Major League seasons in Baltimore.
"It hit me hard," Melvin said. "He was a good friend of mine. My thoughts and prayers are obviously with his family. Watching some of the news stuff today, guys like Jim Palmer and Cal Ripken, guys like that were very close to him. You can see how this guy affected a lot of people. He was a leader on teams and taught me an awful lot."
The batterymates shared a special moment in 1991, when Flanagan threw the last pitch in the history of Memorial Stadium to Melvin.
"That was a big day for him," Melvin said. "He was honored to be able to pitch the last inning, and I was able to catch him, and I remember him striking out Travis Fryman on a 3-2 breaking ball and him walking off the mound. There was a picture caught at some point, and he had that framed for me years later. It's one that I feature at home. It means a lot to me."
Melvin and Flanagan were teammates for only one season, but their friendship spanned even longer.
"You have a lot of acquaintances in the game," Melvin said. "I consider him a friend."
A's Sunday finale added to Saturday's slate
NEW YORK -- With Hurricane Irene expected to make its way through the Northeast this weekend, the A's three-game slate against the Red Sox in Boston has been altered, with Sunday's game being moved up a day, setting up a day-night doubleheader on Saturday.
The split-admission twin bill will be played at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. PT, as the hurricane is predicted to arrive in the area in the late evening.
As a result, A's manager Bob Melvin will likely call up a starter from Triple-A Sacramento for the second contest, with Guillermo Moscoso still set for his scheduled turn on Saturday in the first game. Right-hander Brandon McCarthy, originally slated for Sunday, is now likely to pitch on Monday in Cleveland, with the rest of the rotation pushed back as well.
Right-hander Graham Godfrey, scheduled to pitch for the River Cats on Friday, is a strong possibility to make the spot start. He is 13-3 with a 2.75 ERA in 18 games -- 17 starts -- for Sacramento this season. Melvin, though, isn't expected to make a decision until Friday.
The A's could also stand to bring aboard some relief help, with Melvin in need of fresh arms for Friday's series opener after he was forced to use five relievers in Thursday's 22-9 loss to the Yankees.
Jordan Norberto tossed 38 pitches in the contest, and Bruce Billings needed 57 in his appearance, leaving the A's without a long-relief option.
Familiarity with Harden earns Recker first start
NEW YORK -- A history with starting pitcher Rich Harden was enough to influence A's manager Bob Melvin to hand catcher Anthony Recker, a recent callup, his first Major League start in the confines of Yankee Stadium for Thursday's series finale.
"We kind of eyed this day," Melvin said. "He's [caught] Harden some, so there is some familiarity there."
Recker, who will turn 28 on Monday, was batting .287 with 16 home runs and 48 RBIs in 99 games with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats. He led the club with a .388 on-base percentage while appearing in 61 contests at catcher and 25 at first base.
With Recker behind the plate on Thursday, Kurt Suzuki -- just 1-for-8 lifetime against Yankees starter Phil Hughes -- received the day off.