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4/16/2014 3:38 A.M. ET

Norris: Chavez's experiences key to current success

ANAHEIM -- A's catcher Derek Norris, who's worked with Jesse Chavez as both a relief pitcher and a starter, said the right-hander's maturity is a key to his success in the latter role.

Chavez, 30, relieved in 189 of his first 191 Major League appearances. In three starts for Oakland this season, Chavez doesn't have a decision, but he has a 1.35 ERA, a .200 opponents' batting average, and has struck out 22 while walking two in 20 innings. The A's have won all his starts, two in extra innings, and Monday's on John Jaso's ninth-inning, two-run homer as a pinch-hitter.

"[Chavez] is a very mature ballplayer," Norris said Tuesday. "He's been through both the positives and the negatives. He's the kind of guy, if you give him four days to get ready, he's going to take full advantage of those four days."

As far as catching him, Norris said, "my opinion is, it's about the same. The obvious difference is, when you start against a team, especially a divisional team you might face three to four times a season, you only have to show part of your game the first couple times they come up, saving something for later. It's OK when you start to give up a run or two.

"As a reliever, you're always going for zeros, and you're only going to face a guy once, so you can throw everything you've got at him then."

Norris reiterated that Chavez's strength is "he's had his ups and downs, the moments when he's struggled, so he can cope with it. And he had a starter's background in the Minor Leagues, so it isn't something totally new for him."

Hamstring limits Crisp to pinch-hit appearance

ANAHEIM -- Coco Crisp was not in the A's lineup Tuesday night for the second game in a row, but manager Bob Melvin said the center fielder's hamstring injury is improving.

"Coco's better, and he was better yesterday," Melvin said prior to the game against the Angels. "We'll see how BP goes today, and that will determine if he can play tomorrow."

Crisp pinch-hit in the A's 10-9, 11-inning win, flying out to center field in the 10th.

Melvin stressed that it's just the hamstring that concerns the A's now, not the wrist Crisp injured last week. With a day off Thursday, it's also feasible Oakland would give Crisp two more days and wait until Friday to bring him back as a starter.

Partially as a result of Crisp not being available, an A's center fielder did not lead off Tuesday for the first time this season.

Catcher John Jaso got the call against Angels right-hander Garrett Richards, with center fielder Craig Gentry, Monday's No. 1 hitter, moving to eighth.

"Somebody's got to hit there, and he's an easy fit," Melvin said of Jaso, citing his career on-base percentage (.365) plus his hot hitting in Anaheim (.424, with six homers, including Monday's ninth-inning game-decider).

A's hitting coach Davis reflects on Jackie's impact

ANAHEIM -- A's hitting coach Chili Davis, reflecting on the annual Jackie Robinson Day celebration, said it's an occasion that fills him with pride.

"I just look at the man's character," Davis said before Tuesday's game against the Angels, with both teams wearing No. 42 to honor Robinson at Angel Stadium. "That's what makes me proud.

"He knew his role was not just as a ballplayer, but that he was opening doors for others. He couldn't take anything for granted, and he had to put up with a lot when he broke in. Where we are as a game today, globally, started with him."

Davis, a three-time World Series champion and 19-year Major League outfielder and designated hitter who made his debut in 1981, had Frank Robinson as his manager with the Giants. Davis recalled the talks he had with Frank Robinson about how hard it was for black players that immediately followed Jackie Robinson, too.

"I don't know if I could have done what Jackie did," Davis, 54, said. "I know a lot of guys playing today couldn't have done it."

Davis himself remembered playing Minor League games in the south, when he still heard racial slurs. He said that almost never happens today.

"Some guys, we need to look back and say, 'Thank you,' " Davis said, "Jackie's No. 1, and Curt Flood, too -- they both changed the way things were in the game. They changed lives.

"Jackie pioneered, not only for the black players, but all the players of color. And Curt Flood doesn't get enough credit for his stand, which paved the way to free agency and a lot of guys making a lot of money."

Worth noting

• A's starting pitchers did not allow more than three earned runs in any of the first 13 games.

• Starters struck out nine or more in four consecutive games going into Tuesday.

• New A's closer Luke Gregerson entered Tuesday leading the AL with eight appearances. Gregerson's 371 games (entering Tuesday) since 2009 were tops in the Major Leagues.

Earl Bloom is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.