ARLINGTON -- Both the Athletics and the Rangers wore black ribbons on their jerseys for Friday's game to honor the memory of Lt. Shannon Stone, a firefighter who fell to his death during Thursday's game while trying to catch a ball thrown by Texas left fielder Josh Hamilton.Brad Ziegler, who was in the Oakland bullpen at the time, said his immediate thoughts were to connect to Stone as a father. "I'm a father, I know what it's like to have a kid, " Ziegler said. "To see that guy in an extreme amount of pain, and his only thought throughout the entire time was, 'Where is my son? Make sure my son is taken care of.' It is touching, and it breaks your heart for the kid." Conor Jackson, who hit the ball that Josh Hamilton flipped into the stands, was in the lineup again, batting sixth and playing first base. Oakland manager Bob Melvin said there was no hesitation in putting Jackson back in the lineup.
While the team was grieving, they did not feel that the incident will affect their play on the field."I think we'll be fine at game time," Ziegler said. "All the way up to game time, it might be a little tough, but getting out on the field, playing catch and warming up, everybody will be able to flip the switch." Melvin said that there was not much he could say as a manager to make the players move forward, but that each person must do it in their own way. "Last night, we addressed it, but everybody handles these things differently," Melvin said. "There's not one piece of medicine you could give somebody, because we're all human beings, and we all handle these things differently. But they know they have a job to do once the game starts." Ziegler, who was seen hugging his father and crying outside the locker room just after the game Thursday when it was announced that Stone had died, said that he feels better today. "I'm OK," Ziegler said. "There's going to be a stretch here where we all are going to grieve for a while. I don't feel like I'm necessarily any worse off than any of the other guys, I just expressed it a different way. I think they feel just as bad or worse than I do." The Rangers announced that they will fly the Texas state flags in the outfield at half mast for the remainder of the weekend series. There was also a moment of silence before the national anthem on Friday.
During the game, the A's announced that they had donated $5,000 to a special memorial fund benefiting Stone's family.
Melvin rests regulars to avoid Texas heat
ARLINGTON -- Any series in a hot location requires a little extra care by a manager, as teams try to keep players fresh despite the heat.Athletics manager Bob Melvin is no different, and he said every player on the bench would get at least one start during the weekend series. The temperature at the Ballpark in Arlington was 105 degrees at the time of first pitch on Friday, a record for the stadium. "It's warm. Everybody needs a little bit of a break," Melvin said. "There will be some guys that play every day, simply because we have a limited bench. It's a little bit deeper, but everyone will have a start." As another precautionary measure, Oakland is taking batting practice inside on Friday. Melvin did not rule out resorting to such measures again. "I think it's important," Melvin said. "You have to get on the field the first day obviously and get a feel for the field, but after that, I don't think [the Rangers] hit a whole lot either. They hit the first day they come back from a trip, and whether or not they hit again, I'm not The series is the first between the clubs at the stadium to feature four games in four days series since May 25-28, 2006. While they played four straight in Texas in 2009, one day was a doubleheader to make up for a previous rain delay. "You play 162 games in 180 days, and you're on the field for three hours," Melvin said. "It's the one sport that you play every day. There is a reason why you lift weights every other day, so you can let your body recover. To an extent, sometimes, I think we overdo it just to make it look like we're doing something. "Especially in conditions like this, you need some rest."
Early-inning struggles plague A's
ARLINGTON -- The A's have struggled to create any offense all season, but they have especially struggled to put runs on the board early in the game."We have to start believing in ourselves and believing we can put more than one run on the board," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. "It's not like, 'Here's a run and go get 'em, starting pitcher.' We have to take some pressure off of them, especially in ballparks like this that are offensive ballparks. We need to start scoring some more runs, and we need to start doing it earlier." The A's began Friday with the second inning as their least productive inning (22), with the first (26 runs) just one ahead of the seventh for the second lowest. "We need to start scoring some runs earlier in the game," Melvin said. "It seems like even in the games that we do score some runs, typically it's not early. Typically, we get one run early." While the A's usually stay in the game based on the strength of superior starting pitching, when the starter falters, as Rich Harden did Thursday, it can lead to an ugly scoreline. "Yesterday just had a different feel. They got on us early," Melvin said. "Usually, with our pitching performances, you're not looking at early deficits by multiple runs, so it just felt like yesterday we were behind the eight-ball quick and could never recover."
Melvin hopes Gio exits All-Star Game rested
ARLINGTON -- Oakland manager Bob Melvin said that he hopes that A's lone All-Star, Gio Gonzalez, pitches one inning in the game to keep his innings down and to stay fresh when he returns from break.Melvin also says that the All-Star outing may be a factor in deciding the timing of Gonzalez's next start coming out of the break. "I will probably address (the rotation) on the last day here," Melvin said. "Certainly Gio factors in with how much he pitches in the All-Star Game. We'd like to see it at an inning, but it would be easier to forecast."
The A's have not had fewer than three players on the disabled list since the end of the 2006 season. In two of the past three years they've set new highs for DL trips, sending 25 to the DL in '08 and 23 in '10.
Kurt Suzuki's start on Friday moved him into sole possession of third place in on the A's all-time list for games caught with 538. He was tied with Mike Heath as he began the day.
Louie Horvath is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.