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A's aim to stay focused after trades

Melvin addresses players, urges them to regroup

LOS ANGELES -- Stephen Vogt says he "should've said bye just in case." Oakland's catcher was walking around the team hotel Tuesday morning when he ran into Ben Zobrist. Moments later, his teammate was out of sight. Hours later, he was out of town, shipped to Kansas City as part of the A's third trade in six days.

Also gone are pitchers Scott Kazmir and Tyler Clippard.

"This time of year, this is all part of the business," Billy Butler said. "Nothing surprises me anymore."

It's foreign to most of Butler's teammates, though.

"I've never been a part of something like this, so it's a weird feeling when you see teammates dropping like flies," Vogt said. "Anytime you see guys like Ben, Tyler, Scott go, it makes for a weird vibe."

A's manager Bob Melvin attempted to ease this by addressing his reshuffled club before the opener of a two-game series at Dodger Stadium.

"You just have to stay in the moment and think about winning today's game," Melvin said. "There's still a lot to play for here … That's exactly what I told them. We have three guys that aren't here right now that were important to our team. That doesn't mean we go out there with any less expectations than we had before."

The A's entered the season with high expectations, despite parting with All-Stars Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija and Derek Norris during the winter -- in part because of additions like Zobrist and Clippard. But they stumbled to a 14-30 start, creating a gaping division deficit the front office believed too daunting to overcome.

Once a team vying for a fourth consecutive postseason appearance, the last-place A's are now building for the future, having reeled in five prospects -- four of them pitchers -- in the last week.

"It's never fun to hear them talk about that, because we're still here and we're trying to win every night," Vogt said. "I understand that they have to do what they have to do. It's not a bad thing what they're doing. Just for us, it's frustrating because we're the team that put ourselves in this position. At the end of the day, we still have 60-something games left, and I speak for everyone in this room that we're going to try to win every single one of them."

"When you have three guys that were not only good performers for us but prominent guys in our clubhouse, good teammates, good friends, that's hard, and I understand that," Melvin said. "I'm not discounting that. But as professionals, it's our job to go out each and every day and perform with the same urgency. I've said all along, the effort has never been a problem here. Guys play hard every game."

Jane Lee is a reporter for
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