SEA@OAK: Norris retires Ryan with great diving catch

OAKLAND -- Bob Melvin isn't sure who will play catcher in Saturday's matinee against the Cardinals, just that it'll be somebody different.

The A's manager will turn to either John Jaso or Derek Norris in place of recent callup Stephen Vogt, who has started the past three games.

An abrasion on Jaso's left palm and Norris' quiet bat prompted the recent insertion of Vogt into the starting lineup. Norris will most likely get the nod Saturday unless Jaso's health proves satisfactory.

"Not yet to the point where we feel like he can start a game and get four at-bats, but definitely more available to pinch-hit, whether it's tomorrow or Sunday," Melvin said of Jaso before Friday night's game. "I think we'll definitely be out of the woods with him once we get through with this series, but it could be in this series that he gets a start."

Norris is 4-for-39 over his last 13 games and is batting .151 since May 1 after hitting .283 in April. Melvin called Norris "the catcher of the future," but his playing time has decreased during the recent slump. At 24, Norris is the youngest player on Oakland's active roster, which Melvin acknowledged is a difficult age to experience adversity.

"It's tough, but what's a little bit of a double-edged sword too is that you do have some time to work on some things and have a little bit of separation from what has been a tough period for him," Melvin said. "It's no fun. A guy wants to play all of the time, and based on the personnel we have, it's going to be mostly against left-handed pitching.

"It's important that we keep Derek up to speed, too, and that we haven't seen too many left-handed starters. We will see three here before the break, but we've seen predominately righties and it's tough for a younger guy to sit on the bench for a while. We also need to sprinkle him in and get him some at-bats too, so if Jaso doesn't catch tomorrow, Norris will."

Donaldson, Lowrie making All-Star case on the field

CIN@OAK: Donaldson jacks a two-run homer in the third

OAKLAND -- When Josh Donaldson explains his reasoning behind not checking the vote totals for this year's American League All-Star team, you're inclined to believe that he means it and isn't resorting to false humility.

"Why would I?" Donaldson said. "Miguel Cabrera's going to get voted in."

Donaldson doesn't feel defeated. He just recognizes the vote totals should be going to the Tigers' third baseman -- last year's AL MVP and Triple Crown winner. Cabrera enters Saturday leading the Majors with a .377 average and 81 RBIs, and his 24 home runs are second only to Baltimore's Chris Davis (28).

"He's already had what some guys feel would be a great year," Donaldson said.


Not that Donaldson's any slouch. Oakland's most consistent contributor this season is batting .308 with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs entering Friday. As of last Saturday, Donaldson sat in fifth place in the AL All-Star third-base votes with 635,581. Cabrera leads the position, and all of baseball, with 4,337,223.

Which is why Donaldson thinks fans should vote for shortstop Jed Lowrie to become the first A's position player to appear in an All-Star Game since Ramon Hernandez was selected as a reserve catcher in 2003.

"That sounds great to me," Lowrie said, laughing. The most recent totals placed him in fourth with 1,207,486 votes, behind Baltimore shortstop J.J. Hardy's 2,548,682. "If that's what he thinks, I'll take it."

Lowrie mirrored Donaldson in thinking the A's are deserving of at least one position player selection, in large part because of the team's overall success.

The A's 46-34 record -- third-best in the AL -- matches the best start by an A's team over the past 21 years. They're 103-60 since last July, which is the best mark in the Majors over that span.

"To have a team that's played as well as we have, the most consistent performers throughout the first half deserve to go," said Lowrie, who is batting .306 with a team-best 21 doubles and .378 on-base percentage in his first year since joining the A's from Houston. "And I can say that because I was on a team last year that had one representative, and he was very deserving, but I thought I was too. But because we were on such a bad team we only had one guy go.

"That's always kind of been the way it's been. When you have a winning team, more guys are represented."