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Nationals’ slugger returns to lineup for finale with A’s

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			Nationals’ slugger returns to lineup for finale with A’s

OAKLAND — Bob Melvin corrected himself as he discussed the impact of Bryce Harper’s return to the Washington Nationals lineup Sunday afternoon.

“That’s as good of a lineup as you’re going to see in baseball, so it just makes it a little bit better,” the A’s manager said before pausing and adding: “A lot better, excuse me.”

Harper’s decision to drop the appeal of his four-game suspension for charging Giants reliever Hunter Strickland last week worked in the A’s favor. Although Harper’s suspension was reduced by a game, making him available for Sunday’s finale at the Oakland Coliseum, his desire to expedite the process ensured that he was in Las Vegas with his family during the first two games of the three-game set rather than in the batter’s box tormenting the A’s pitching staff.

In short, the A’s caught a break by not being the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Harper wanted to speed up the process so he would available for the Nationals upcoming series with the Boys in Blue, which kicks off at Chavez Ravine Monday. The timing of the suspension also gave Harper a chance to hit the refresh button at a time when he’s fighting through a 7 for 45 (.156) slump.

“I want to be in the lineup as quick as possible, getting it done and not really let it linger,” Harper said. “I want to play at home, of course, and I didn’t want it to linger into L.A. It’s a big series down there.”

How long can a suspension linger?

The league isn’t going to hear an appeal from Strickland, who received a six-game suspension for inciting the bench-clearing brawl between the Giants and Nationals last week, until June 13.

“It was definitely weird going home (to Las Vegas) at the end of May,” Harper said. “I’ve never been suspended from anything in my life, not even school. It was definitely a weird feeling seeing the guys play and me being at home.”

But Harper got to watch his team play some pretty good baseball in his absence. The Nationals beat the Giants Wednesday night and they put on a hitting clinic against the A’s Friday, scoring 13 runs off 20 hits and five home runs. But the A’s managed to pick up a 10-4 win in the final game of Harper’s suspension Saturday.

— The A’s recalled first baseman Matt Olson from Triple-A Nashville Sunday, optioning starting pitcher Daniel Mengden, who surrendered nine earned runs over eight innings of work in two starts with the club.

Olson joins the team at a time when he’s swinging a particularly hot bat. Over his last 20 games, the 23-year-old slugger is batting .338 with seven doubles, nine home runs and 23 RBI.

“It’s great to reward a guy who’s a big time prospect for us, playing really well right now,” Melvin said. “He’s swinging the bat well. He’s getting on base. He’s hitting homers. He’s doing everything well, and obviously, you always know at first base, you’re going to get terrific defense out of him, too.”

The 2012 compensation pick went 0 for 3 in his lone game with the A’s this year on April 23. He’s 2 for 24 in 12 career games with the big league club.

Melvin said Olson could see some time in the outfield as Yonder Alonso is likely to stay in the lineup as he puts together an all-star caliber season at first base.

“We’ll see where he fits in the next couple days,” the A’s manager said.

— Mengden’s return to Triple-A Nashville Sunday cleared space for Jesse Hahn’s return to the rotation.

Melvin said Hahn, who has missed his last two starts with tightness in his right triceps, will get the start against the Toronto Blue Jays Tuesday night.

Hahn went on the 10-day disabled list after he experienced a startling drop in his velocity during a start against the Miami Marlins on May 23. But the 27-year-old right-hander reached his normal velocity during a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Class A Stockton Wednesday and during a bullpen session Saturday.

“Everything felt good, everything felt normal, so I should be ready to go,” Hahn said.

— Closer Sean Doolittle will continue his rehab assignment in Stockton Monday. Doolittle, who missed the entire month of May with a left shoulder strain, threw an inning of scoreless baseball with Stockton Friday night.

— The A’s were planning to give Khris Davis a day off Sunday, but he was reinserted into the lineup after Mark Canha came down with a stomach flu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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