SEA@OAK: Crisp hits the wall to make outstanding grab

OAKLAND -- The A's are aiming to get Coco Crisp back in their lineup during this weekend's three-game set in Cleveland.

Crisp has missed a week's worth of games with a neck strain, slowly improving along the way. On Wednesday, he was "even better," according to manager Bob Melvin, and perhaps enough to potentially be available off the bench for a matinee meeting with the White Sox.

Melvin noted it would only be in an emergency situation, though.

"I think after the off-day tomorrow, we have a shot in Cleveland," he said.

The A's have won six consecutive games in Crisp's absence, in part because of their enviable depth -- notably, Craig Gentry, brought on board in the offseason to fill this exact role.

"We felt like he could be an impact guy for us, either giving Coco some days off or even as an in-game guy," said Melvin. "He impacts the game off the bench as well as anyone we've seen here in the past few years.

"We feel fortunate that [Crisp] has missed six games and we've won. That's an opportunity for someone else to contribute, and that's the way we look at things here."

After an 0-for-2 performance in Wednesday's 4-2 loss, Gentry is 6-for-23 over the last six games and 20-for-64 (.313) in his starting assignments this season.

Catchers Jaso, Norris providing a spark in A's lineup

CWS@OAK: Norris plates Cespedes with an RBI double

OAKLAND -- John Jaso and Derek Norris have combined to produce perhaps baseball's best catching tandem at the moment.

Jaso made his fourth consecutive start from the leadoff spot in the injured Coco Crisp's place Wednesday, having compiled three-hit games at the top of the lineup in each of the past two games. After homering to lead off the first inning in Wednesday's 4-2 loss, he's hit safely and scored a run in each of his last five games and, going back to his last 11 games, he's batting .444 (16-for-36).

"He's getting some consistent at-bats with Coco out," said manager Bob Melvin. "He has led off before and he's always profiled as an on-base guy, but now he's swinging the bat well, too.

"Those are the type of guys you don't want to walk, because you know that's what they normally do, and now when you throw the ball over the plate, he's hitting it. A lot of this has had to do with him being able to handle that leadoff spot and getting big hits."

Norris is no slacker.

He's batted .415 with 11 walks and 14 RBIs over his last 19 games, making it a rather easy decision for Melvin to plug both of his catchers in the same lineup, utilizing the designated hitter to do so.

"That's something out of Spring Training we were potentially looking at," he said. "It is a little difficult having both of your catchers in the game, so I'm always a little weary of that, but look at what they've done."

Norris went 0-for-3 Wednesday.

Worth noting

Righty Ryan Cook, placed on the disabled list Friday with a forearm strain, will not travel with the club during a nine-game road trip that begins Friday. He will continue his rehab in Oakland.