OAKLAND — There was no room at the All-Star Inn for Josh Donaldson last year. This year he might be an honored guest.
The 28-year-old right-handed slugger was the leading vote-getter among all American League third basemen when the first round of ballot counting was announced Tuesday.
Donaldson was the A's best hitter at the All-Star break last year with a .310 average, 16 homers and 61 RBIs. But he ranked fifth in the voting behind Miguel Cabrera, Manny Machado, Adrian Beltre and Evan Longoria. With Cabrera now a first baseman, Donaldson has a lead of over 50,000 votes on Longoria. Beltre, Machado and Nick Castellanos are much further behind.
"If we have one player on the All-Star team, it should be J.D.,'' first baseman Brandon Moss said.
Moss is fifth in the voting at DH -- one of three other A's in the top five at their postions. Derek Norris was third at catcher and shortstop Jed Lowrie also was fifth.
Donaldson (.276, 12 homers, 38 RBIs) said he isn't going to get carried away with having a lead, this being just the first round of voting results to be released. But he said going to "the All-Star game would be a nice story."
"It's great; so far, so good,'' he said. "At this time last year I wasn't on the ballot. It shows you where things have come. It would definitely be pretty awesome for me.''
Asked if this was a new level of respect, Donaldson said it was "as far as the fan base is concerned."
"What matters the most to me is how my teammates feel about me and how I feel about myself at the end of the day,'' he said. "I understand that last year I was coming out of nowhere. And you had the best player in the game, Miguel Cabrera, the two-time MVP playing third base. There's not much I can say about that."
Norris (.316, five homers, 24 RBIs) said he didn't know he'd gotten any support from the voters until he got to the clubhouse and someone congratulated him, and he had to ask why.
"It was a big surprise, very unexpected,'' Norris said.
The right-hander threw 22 pitches before Tuesday's game, throwing as hard as he would in a game, according to manager Bob Melvin.
"Honestly, I'm thoroughly surprised at how good it felt today,'' Cook said. "It's one thing to be confident (that the injury was minor), but it's something else to have things respond the way you want them to feel.''
Next up for Cook is another bullpen session Thursday. After that the A's could give him a simulated game or a short injury rehabilitation assignment that, Melvin said, "could maybe be as short as one game."
"He threw all his pitches today and it looked like he didn't miss a thing,'' Melvin said.
He was wearing an imposing-looking brace that can lock the arm in place or can be opened to allow for flexibility, which is the way Griffin had hit while meeting and greeting his teammates.
Griffin, who is expected to be able to pitch again in the first half of the 2015 season, also was styling a new haircut, his long surfer-length locks a thing of the past.
"It makes me look younger,'' said Griffin, 26. "That's a good thing.''
Punto had not appeared in any of the last three games while nursing a calf injury.
Detroit (Anibal Sanchez 2-2) at A's (Scott Kazmir 5-2), 7:05 p.m. CSNCA
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