Semien sees 96-game starting streak end

A's shortstop was hitless in last 8 at-bats with 4 K's

Semien sees 96-game starting streak end

OAKLAND -- A's shortstop Marcus Semien wasn't in Friday's starting lineup, ending his streak of 96 straight games started, but kept his consecutive games played streak alive, entering as a defensive substitute in the ninth inning of a 13-inning, 1-0 win over the Rays. Semien went 0-for-2 and turned a double play. He's now played in 99 straight games dating back to last year.

After a conversation with Washington and an evaluation of Semien's recent stretch, Melvin decided the shortstop finally needed a day off, but did note he could possibly enter Friday's game in a late-inning role if necessary. Semien replaced Arismendy Alcantara after Danny Valencia pinch-hit for Alcantara in the ninth.

"It's just as much mentally as physically," Melvin said. "It's a grind playing shortstop every single day. He's been out there every single day. It just looked like maybe a little bit recently here it might be time for a day."

Semien acknowledged he's struggled recently, saying, "I think I played myself into a day off." Semien's hitting just .207 over his last 22 games and is hitless in his last eight at-bats, striking out four times.

He's also made five errors in eight games after committing eight in his first 88 games.

"I think sometimes mentally a little bit it gets away from you," Melvin said. "Whether or not your legs are 100-percent there. You're trying to maintain that pace, but in this game it's difficult to do."

Semien's made stark improvements in the field after committing 35 errors last year -- a product of those daily sessions with Washington. He's also second among Major League shortstops in home runs (20) despite moving around in Melvin's batting order, having hit in every spot except third and fourth.

His growth hasn't been lost on Melvin, especially defensively.

"It's been pretty remarkable," Melvin said. "I don't think I've ever seen a guy make those kind of strides defensively at the big league level from one year to the next."

Melvin said Thursday that Semien presumably wanted to play 162 games this season, but it wasn't likely to happen. Semien's dealt with a sore right shoulder prior to the All-Star Break, and said Thursday it's not an issue.

"There's been a lot of ups and downs mentally and physically this year," Semien said.

"I like to play through any type of little thing that hurts. I think there's a difference between things that hurt and being injured. Anything that hurts, I'm going to play through it. Mentally, you're going to have slumps. These past two games haven't been good. So I'll use this to get myself back right."

Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.