SEA@OAK: Johnson retires Smoak to earn the save

BALTIMORE -- For the first time since being traded to the A's, Jim Johnson returned to the site where he became an All-Star closer on Friday.

Never mind the modifier. Johnson isn't even a closer anymore.

The right-hander lost that title less than two weeks into the season, following a string of struggles with his new club, and his role has since been up in the air. He's pitched just twice in the last 12 days, and he's even been the subject of trade rumors.

So instead of gushing about closing out games for the American League's best team upon his arrival at Camden Yards on Friday, where Johnson spent eight years with the Orioles, he spoke to a large group of reporters about what's been a rather disappointing season.

"It's been frustrating," Johnson said, "but I still have a positive attitude every day coming to the ballpark, and I'm trying to help the team win any way I can."

Johnson compiled 122 saves for the Orioles, including a combined 101 the previous two years, but he has just two for the A's, who are paying him $10 million, and his ERA is 6.26 -- notably, 14.04 at home, where he's been persistently booed by the home crowd.

The drastic splits remain head-scratching.

"You can't help but see the numbers, and it's not like it's a real small sample at this point, but I really don't know. His stuff looks the same," said manager Bob Melvin. "Sometimes he'll have games where he's a little more elevated than others."

"You guys tell me my stats. I honestly don't know them," said Johnson. "I've never been one for stats."

On Friday he said Baltimore has "great fans," noting a "mutual respect," but didn't knock the A's faithful despite the booing, instead saying, "They're good fans."

"They all get it. I think there's no malice behind [the booing]," he continued. "They just want their team to win, which is understandable. I can't blame them.

"Despite not pitching well at home, I'm getting a lot of confidence and support from the fans when we're out in the bullpen."

Johnson maintains he may have put pressure on himself in the early going but also admits he was simply not throwing strikes.

"I was just walking guys, and from that point on, I ran into a little bit of bad luck," he said. "But I've come to the ballpark every day, putting in the work, trying to help the team win."

Crisp out of starting lineup with neck injury

OAK@TOR: Crisp sprints to make a sliding catch

BALTIMORE -- Coco Crisp was once again out of the starting lineup on Friday night, and it will continue that way on occasion until the outfielder's ongoing neck issue has completely subsided.

Crisp suffered a neck strain nearly a month ago and, after missing several games thereafter, has been trying to play through it without avail. He did appear as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of Friday's 4-3 victory over the Orioles in 11 innings, drawing a leadoff walk and scoring the tying run on Yoenis Cespedes' double.

"I think, now, it's just about trying to get him a few days of rest to try to get him better," said manager Bob Melvin. "He'll feel pretty good after a day of rest and then play a game and then maybe take half a step backward. So I'm going to be a little bit more proactive about getting him more rest here, so there will be some days you won't see him in the lineup."

Enter Craig Gentry, who started in center field and batted leadoff in Baltimore on Friday.

"That's why we got him," said Melvin. "Coco always needs some days off based on how hard he plays, and he's getting a little bit older. We knew that coming in, so that's why we targeted Craig. It's nice to have a guy like that. You know you're getting a guy that can do different things on the field.

"That being said, we always like to have Coco in there because he's so important to the lineup. But having a guy like Craig makes you feel very good, and it's just part of the versatility that we have here."

Worth noting

• The A's acquired additional pitching depth on Friday, acquiring left-hander Justin Marks -- originally selected by Oakland in the third round of the 2009 Draft -- from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations.

Marks, who was 3-2 with a 5.64 ERA in 13 games (two starts) for Triple-A Omaha, was immediately optioned to Triple-A Sacramento.

The A's designated Minor League outfielder Kent Matthes for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Marks.