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ARLINGTON -- Three doctor visits and more than one frustrating week later, A's outfielder Coco Crisp remained sidelined by an irksome case of pinkeye on Monday.
Crisp has seen specialists in the Bay Area, Detroit and New York, all of which have delivered the same diagnosis for the allergic conjunctivitis that has kept the A's table setter out of the starting lineup in seven of the club's last eight games. Crisp attempted to play Tuesday in Detroit but could only make it through four innings.
"No better today, unfortunately," manager Bob Melvin said as his squad prepared for the opener of its crucial four-game series with the Rangers. "He's having a tough time with it. I hold out hope every day, but we're just not seeing much progress. It's in both eyes, and on a particular day one's worse than the other, and he's just having a tough time getting any traction on it."
Crisp's absence hasn't gone unnoticed. In the six games he's missed, the A's are 2-4, their strong hold on the top American League Wild Card slot no more. Baltimore held that spot entering the day, while the Angels trailed Oakland by just 2 1/2 games for the second spot, with 10 games to play.
It goes without saying, then, that the A's need all of their weapons against the AL West-leading Rangers, who carried a four-game lead on Oakland coming into the day. Crisp is one of them, yet it's uncertain when, if at all, he'll be available this week.
At the very least, Crisp could potentially lend the A's a baserunner off the bench. He currently ranks fourth in the American League in stolen bases (35).
"He is integral for us, and we look forward to getting him back as soon as possible," Melvin said. "He does a lot of things for us -- plays a terrific center field, he's our runner on the bases, he's our igniter, he hits good pitching, he's a really good player for us, so we miss him. But like anything else, if one of our guys is out for awhile, someone else has to pick him up."
Stephen Drew, owner of 12 hits in his last 37 at-bats, was slotted into the leadoff spot Monday in Crisp's stead, with Yoenis Cespedes holding his defensive place in center field, while Brandon Moss again drew a start in left field.
Josh Reddick, carrying a career-long 0-for-24 drought into Monday's opener in Texas, was found in the seventh spot of the starting lineup for just the second time this season. Melvin assured the decision to bump his outfielder down in the order had less to do with Reddick and more to do with his efforts in splitting up his right-handers and left-handers with lefty Derek Holland on the mound.
Of Reddick, Melvin said, "He's actually hit the ball really well the last several days, just right at people and with guys in scoring position. It's very frustrating for him but he's not hitting seventh because of what he's done yesterday or the day before."
A tired A's bullpen has worked 35 innings over the past seven games, after being utilized in just 21 innings in its previous nine. Melvin subsequently wasn't expecting to have all 11 of his relievers readily available at Rangers Ballpark on Monday.
"As much as we've used our bullpen recently, other guys have to pitch in roles they're maybe not normally used to," he said. "We may have limited guys that are available out of the bullpen. In ballparks like this, you certainly would like to have all of your resources. Then again, in places like this, your offense certainly has to rule the day at times too, and I think we're good enough offensively, to where if we don't have some guys available on a particular day, we can swing the bats and score some runs."
Entering Monday, the season series between the A's and Rangers was tied at six games each, with the A's having gone 4-2 in Oakland and 2-4 in Texas. They've dropped five of the previous six season series but, including Monday, have seven games left with the Rangers to buck the trend.