Bay Area Baseball

Follow the latest news and notes on the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics

May 1, 2013
Back in the bigs after four years, Montz contributes in 5-4 loss

OAKLAND -- Luke Montz's Tuesday night started with him getting thrown out of a Triple-A game in Fresno. It ended with his being summoned to the majors for the first time in more than four years.

Montz, called up from Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday to replace Coco Crisp (15-day DL -- strained left hamstring) on the A's roster, said he was on the bench with the River Cats in Fresno when the team took some vocal exception to a pair of called strikes early in the game against center fielder Michael Choice.

After the second, Montz said, the home plate umpire pointed toward the Sacramento bench and motioned to eject somebody -- only nobody was sure who. So Montz jumped up and took charge of arguing the case.

After the game, Montz said, River Cats manager Steve Scarsone "called me into his office and got after me pretty good. Our pitching coach (Rich Rodriguez) reamed me pretty good. I said, I might be in some trouble here.

"Then in the middle of a sentence, 'They're going to frickin' call you up to the big leagues.' I just stopped and said, 'Repeat that again?'"

It wasn't the first time Montz had heard those words. He spent 10 games in 2008 with the Washington Nationals during a September call-up. In his last game, Sept. 28, he homered against the Phillies. He hadn't played in the majors since. Montz admitted wondering at times if he ever would again.

"Very much so," he said. "Last night was almost like I was a rookie, tears, emotional."

Montz caught a flight to San Francisco on Wednesday morning. When he landed around 10:45 a.m., he saw a text message from his agent saying he was in the A's lineup, batting eighth as their designated hitter.

"I hopped in the first cab and said, how quick can you get me there?" Montz said. "I don't think he did under 110 the whole way here."

Montz arrived at the Coliseum about 45 minutes before first pitch -- enough time to find a jersey in his locker and take "10-20 swings in the cage." Then he was facing Angels lefty C.J. Wilson in front of 17,139 fans.

Montz went hitless in three at-bats against Wilson but hit a couple balls hard, including a flyout to the wall in right in the sixth. In the eighth, he came up against Scott Downs with Josh Reddick on first base in a 5-2 game -- and doubled to the wall in center to drive in Reddick. Downs then scored when Adam Rosales singled to center.

"I felt good out there," Montz said. "Felt like I calmed down, walked in here and all the guys welcomed me with open arms. Felt great and took it out to the field."

Manager Bob Melvin said before the game Montz was recommended largely because of his success in Triple-A against left-handed pitching. The A's are scheduled to see several lefties on their upcoming road trip.

Having Montz, whose primary position is catcher, also gives Melvin some flexibility to have both Derek Norris and John Jaso in the lineup as catcher and DH without having to worry about losing the DH spot if one has to leave the game.

* The A's took a mostly glass-half-full view of left-hander Tommy Milone's outing in their 5-4 loss to the Angels. That included Milone, who lost his third consecutive start despite tying his career high with 10 strikeouts and not issuing a walk. Milone did give up three solo homers, to Howie Kendrick, Trout and Mark Trumbo, and left in the eighth inning trailing 4-2.

"I felt good throughout the whole game," said Milone, who threw 104 pitches. "Few bad pitches. That's baseball, though. I've got to take it."

One thing Milone did manage to do was preserve the bullpen for the most part. The A's are off tomorrow but were taxed after Monday's 19-inning game and Tuesday's win in which Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour both threw. Pat Neshek and Ryan Cook pitched an inning each Wednesday.

"We needed it," Melvin said. "We had to use a couple guys today and then have an off-day to get us back in reasonable shape ... Even though we lost it was a good performance from him that we didn't have to go too deep into the bullpen."

Milone said he knew that was part of his job. Not normally a strikeout pitcher, the lefty lasted a batter into the eighth despite putting away the double-digit strikeouts.

"(Usually) I'm trying to get them out of there as quick as possible," Milone said. "But I felt like the changeup was working, fastball was working in and out. Changing speeds and eye level -- it all just seemed to work today."

* More in tomorrow's game story about the A's nearly mounting another comeback and Yoenis Céspedes' ninth-inning slide. One note from after the game -- Melvin said Chris Young, who strained his left quad Monday night, has a "good chance" of playing Friday against the Yankees in New York.

Young ran on the field before Wednesday's game and said afterward he couldn't quite go full speed. He said of his status for Friday: "I have no clue." With Montz coming up for Crisp, Young was the only outfielder on the bench Wednesday, though Brandon Moss can also play there.

* It's a day late, but the A's wrapped up April with a 16-12 record, just the second time in the last 10 seasons (and first since 2008) they have finished the month with a winning record. As the A's depart for New York, we'll leave off with Melvin's thoughts on the first month of play:

"We're above .500, and therefore a lot of good things happened this month," he said. "You look at the offense, and it's pretty consistent. I think we're first in the league in runs scored, first in the league in stolen bases. Pitching's a little bit down -- as far as ERA goes I think we're fourth-to-last in the league, which we expect to get a lot better based on our personnel.

"But all in all, I mean, we did go through a little bit of a losing spell there. But to finish four games over .500, it's not a bad start to April."

-- Matt Kawahara

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.



About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Email: mkawahara@sacbee.com.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

FOLLOW US | Get more from sacbee.com | Follow us on Twitter | Become a fan on Facebook | Get news in your inbox | View our mobile versions | e-edition: Print edition online | What our bloggers are saying

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Standings

NL WEST STANDINGS
AL WEST STANDINGS