OAKLAND -- Closer Ryan Cook will be the lone player representing the A's at the All-Star Game in Kansas City, and other than having to deal with travel headaches, he's excited about the opportunity.
The right-hander had to pack for two trips since Oakland opens the second half on the road at Minnesota, and he said he wasn't even sure when he would be boarding a plane headed for Kansas City, except that it would be some time Sunday after the A's final game of the first half against the Mariners.
Once Cook finally does get there, though, he'll be ready to enjoy it.
"It's a great accomplishment, no doubt about it," Cook said. "I'm obviously ecstatic about it."
It's been a meteoric rise for the rookie, who made the team out of Spring Training and now is sixth among American League relievers with a 1.46 ERA. As for the second half, Cook wants to work on limiting his walks -- those have been the main problem in leading to his three blown saves -- and to just keep on attacking hitters.
Cook will be joined at the All-Star Game by A's manager Bob Melvin, who was chosen by Rangers skipper Ron Washington to serve on the AL coaching staff.
"I'll just be one of those onlookers that's just happy about being there, and to be able to represent the Oakland A's in an All-Star Game is pretty special to me," said Melvin, who hails from Palo Alto. "I would've never envisioned growing up that I would be in an All-Star Game in this uniform, so in that respect I'm very excited about it.
"Just lucky to be there and glad that I got the call from Ron Washington."
Cook and Melvin have something in common -- both said they had no idea what they'd be doing once they get to Kansas City, what with the ever-growing number of festivities surrounding the actual game. But that uncertainty hardly seems likely to put a damper on their experience.
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. (EDT)/6:30 p.m. (CDT). ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.
Cespedes exits early with sprained left thumb
OAKLAND -- Just one day before the All-Star Break and the four days of rest that comes with it, A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has another injury to deal with.
Cespedes was pulled from Sunday's game against the Mariners after the third inning with a sprained left thumb, injuring himself when he slid into second on a successful stolen base attempt in the first inning. Jonny Gomes replaced him in left field.
"Literally day-to-day, not really sure how he's going to feel tomorrow," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's going to have four days off and hopefully after the four days, he's ready to go, but not really sure. Usually the next day you have a better indication of how he's feeling."
Melvin also said that while he couldn't be certain whether Cespedes might have to go on the 15-day disabled list, the team's medical staff doesn't currently think he will have to.
The rookie was noticeably bothered by his left hand when he was in the game, as he shook it several times in apparent discomfort before he was taken out.
Earlier this season, Cespedes spent 20 days on the 15-day DL with a strained muscle in his left hand. He then missed several games over the next couple of weeks after he was activated on June 1 due to a strained left hamstring.
Parker and Milone reflect on strong first half
OAKLAND -- Though Jarrod Parker had a rough outing on Saturday in his last start before the All-Star break, it couldn't put much of a damper on the first half that the right-hander has had. Fellow rookie Tommy Milone, too, has been excellent so far in his first full season in the big leagues.
Since Parker was called up in late April, the two young starters have been a model of consistency for an A's rotation that has seen several others come and go, due to injuries or poor performance. In fact, they've been better than consistent.
Milone has been dominant in seven home starts, carrying a 5-1 record and a 1.03 ERA. While the lefty has had more struggles pitching on the road, he's shown improvement lately, which bodes well for himself and the A's going into the second half.
And Parker was performing even better than his cohort until he have up six runs on Saturday. In his four starts before that, the right-hander gave up one run or less, and he was just the second pitcher since 1900 to do so in 10 of his first 14 career starts.
Both pitchers said they were pleased with their first halves. Milone pointed to how he bounced back from a few difficult starts, while Parker wants to work on becoming more "complete" in the second half.
It could be tough for them to top the way their seasons and careers have started, and as the season gets deeper, fatigue could become a concern for the rookies. But to this point, Parker and Milone have been as good as anyone could have hoped.
"Based on what you saw in Spring Training and where they are right now, absolutely you've got to be happy with both those guys," A's manager Bob Melvin said on Friday.
A's and Mariners turn back the clock in finale
OAKLAND -- The A's reached way back in time in their final game before the All-Star break against the Mariners.
It was Turn Back the Clock Day on Sunday, and both teams adopted the monikers of their 1955 Pacific Coast League counterparts, the A's transforming into the Oakland Oaks and the Mariners becoming the Seattle Rainiers.
The two teams each wore throwback uniforms, '50s music played over the Coliseum PA all afternoon and an Elvis Presley impersonator performed the National Anthem before the game. Seven former Oaks were honored during a pregame ceremony as well, including Ernie Broglio, the infamous other part in the Cardinals-Cubs Lou Brock trade.
The Oaks played in nearby Emeryville from 1903 to 1955 in the days when the PCL was the biggest baseball institution around, with no Major League teams in the region. That was slightly before the time of A's manager Bob Melvin, who was born in 1961, but he still appreciates the history.
"I know the uniforms look good," Melvin said. "I know the history of the organization, [but] couldn't tell you in detail too much about the Oakland Oaks. I do like the fact that we do celebrate the teams of the past. I think MLB does a great job in doing that, getting us different uniforms in tune with the times."
Outfielder Collin Cowgill was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Stockton on Monday, assuming his baserunning drills went without complications on Sunday. Cowgill said he would play two games for the Ports and then possibly one with Triple-A Sacramento, and could be activated after that. He's been on the 15-day disabled list since June 23 with a sprained left ankle.
Melvin said the team would hold an extra workout in Minnesota when the team reconvenes for the second half on Friday for a series against the Twins, since they won't have a chance to meet in Oakland before then.
Injured pitcher Dallas Braden was throwing from up to 100 feet on Saturday and was off on Sunday. The left-hander is recovering from a strain in his surgically repaired left shoulder.
Ben Estes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.