The Travis Buck era is here.
Well, for now anyway. The A’s announced before their exhibition finale vs. the Giants that their best prospect not only has made the Opening Day roster but that he’ll be playing regularly, too.
That’s the great thing about the A’s, and it was true even in the days when I covered them. They rarely do things you think makes logical sense. So, not surprisingly, my best guess for how the final cuts would look were wrong. I’m sure you’re shocked to hear that.
Anyway, Buck stays, as does the just-signed Todd Walker, left-handed pitcher Lenny DiNardo and Rule 5 lefty specialist Jay Marshall (that one wasn’t a surprise). Gone are lefty pitcher Brad Halsey (optioned to Triple-A Sacramento) and utility infielder Antonio Perez (designated for assignment). As expected, starter Esteban Loaiza goes on the 15-day disabled list, and Chad Gaudin will step into the rotation. (I got that one right).
As for the Giants, they didn’t release Mark Sweeney as anticipated (but that might be coming eventually). Instead they put him on the disabled list with a foot injury he supposedly incurred fouling a ball off it on Wednesday. Funny, I didn’t see said injury reported by anyone. And unlike I erroneously posted in my earlier blog (my math skills led me into this business), that didn’t mean both Jason Ellison and Todd Linden have earned spots. At 12:28 p.m., the Giants announced that Linden earned the final spot and that Ellison was traded to the Seattle Mariners for left-handed pitcher Travis Black.
Anyway, the big news is Buck. According to manager Bob Geren and general manager Billy Beane, he’ll be treated as the everyday right fielder. Buck earned the spot with a great spring, and injuries to first baseman Dan Johnson and outfielder Mark Kotsay opened up a spot for him.
The ascension of Buck also means Nick Swisher goes back to first base. That’ll be interesting to watch, because Swisher hasn’t played the position much during the spring. I asked him during batting practice if going back there will be like riding a bike, and he said, “I hope so.” So keep an eye on that. Walker becomes a backup first baseman who can also fill in at second base and, in an emergency, at third base.
To see the A’s and Giants’ Opening Day rosters, proceed to the expanded entry section. and take these decisions with a grain of salt. As Beane said to reporters, there’s “more pagentry than actual substance” to the Opening Day roster.