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Saturday wrap-up

A’s pitchers must have had big plans for tonight. They combined on a 1-0 shutout of Cleveland for the A’s first exhibition win of the spring. Dallas Braden, who is sick with the same bug that’s gotten some of his teammates, looked really good in two innings. He’s putting his slider on the back-burner for now and is focusing on a cut fastball (new for him) as well as his change-up, his best pitch. Bob Geren also raved about Trevor Cahill’s two innings of work.

Chris Denorfia’s double drove in Ryan Sweeney in the seventh for the game’s only run. It was a crazy day for Denorfia, who leaves tomorrow along with Brad Ziegler for the World Baseball Classic. Denorfia had the game-winning RBI but then got thrown out by a mile at third when he got caught off second, then tagged up and tried to advance on a fly. He got an earful from Geren and is peeved at himself for a couple of base running blunders. On Friday, he failed to advance on a passed ball when he should have. “That’s two base running mistakes in two days. If I’m going to make this team, I’ve got to be perfect.” He’s not lying …

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Young A’s infielders get look

Not that there’s any positives for the A’s in having Eric Chavez and Mark Ellis hurt, but with two infield starters out, it’s giving the young guys some playing time. Today’s lineup has Adrian Cardenas starting at second and Cliff Pennington at short (not to mention Sean Doolittle at first base). Cardenas, a middle infielder who came over from Philadelphia in the Joe Blanton trade, is a guy I was curious to see coming into the spring. The A’s are big on him as a hitter. He played primarily second base with the Phillies, but the A’s had him play shortstop in the Arizona Fall League. I would assume he’ll get time at both positions in exhibitions. Bob Geren said a scout described Cardenas as an Ellis-type: Not flashy but he’ll make all the plays he’s supposed to.

I’ve written a bit about Corey Wimberly, the speedy second baseman obtained from Colorado for Matt Murton. Wimberly got a look at shortstop yesterday. He made a nice play, diving to stop a ball up the middle, and throwing behind a runner at third to nail him. With his speed, Wimberly seems like a natural leadoff candidate. But he’s 25 and hasn’t advanced past Double-A, so he’s not what you’d call a young prospect.

When it comes to the A’s infield, I get the feeling a lot of you are wondering if there’s a stud shortstop coming up. One thing I can say: If the A’s don’t sign Orlando Cabrera, there’s no one in the system that’s going to unseat Bobby Crosby this season.

Today’s lineup against Cleveland:

Buck RF
Sweeney CF
Holliday LF
Chavez DH
Powell C
Hannahan 3B
Pennington SS
Doolittle 1B
Cardenas 2B

Braden P

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A’s fall to Brewers, 8-5

The A’s remained winless through three exhibition games with Friday’s 8-5 loss to Milwaukee at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. But what stood out most in this game was the pitching they got from their front-line guys early on. Dana Eveland retired all six batters he faced and threw just 13 pitches in his two innings. “I’ll save my bullets. That’s the goal for this spring, save my bullets,” Eveland said afterward. He’s already made an important discovery: He’ll go with the contact lenses over glasses on the mound. Eveland said earlier this spring how bad his eyesight was last year, and he was going to wear one or the other. He wore his glasses to shag flies in BP, and he said he actually missed three fly balls. But he’ll wear glasses away from the baseball field because contacts hurt his eyes after just a few hours (I’m with him on that one …)

Brad Ziegler and Jerome Williams, a rotation candidate, also looked sharp.

Other notes from the afternoon:
–So much for what Geren told us this morning about Daric Barton debuting Sunday. Barton pinch-hit in the eighth inning and grounded out to second. The training staff gave him the thumbs-up to hit, so Barton wanted to test out his surgically repaired right hip. “I got out of the box OK. My timing’s still off, but other than that, it was productive.” He said he might DH Sunday against Arizona in Tucson, but his schedule seems to be changing by the day.

–Rajai Davis got a start in center and ran wild on the bases, showing the speed that’s likely to keep him on the Opening Day roster. He went from first to third on a hard single to left by Travis Buck in the first. Then in the sixth, he hung with an offspeed pitch from R.J. Swindle that must have clocked about 60 mph and drove the ball to right-center, legging out a triple.

–Jason Giambi got his first hit since returning to the A’s, a single to left in the second. But his best moment was a nice play at first he made on Craig Counsell’s bouncer in the third. He went to his right and made a backhanded stab on the short hop, flipping to Ziegler for the out. Giambi is likely to play lots of first base this season, and his glove is thought to be a bit of a liability.

–Geren said he likes what he sees from Travis Buck, who singled the opposite way and walked.

That’s a wrap for today. …

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Daric Barton close to playing

Daric Barton’s cranky right hip is doing better, and Bob Geren shared this morning that the first baseman could play as soon as Sunday against the Diamondbacks in Tucson. If not, Barton’s Cactus League debut could come Tuesday, following Monday’s offday. You’ll remember Barton was slowed early last spring by a hand injury, and you figure the more at-bats a young hitter like him gets in camp, the better. Considering his injury, I wouldn’t be surprised if the A’s let him skip the long bus ride to Tucson on Sunday and have him debut Tuesday.

–Justin Duchscherer told me he threw a 20-pitch bullpen session yesterday and his elbow felt fine, but he didn’t know when he might pitch in a game.  

–Geren wants to get second baseman Mark Ellis into a game soon as DH, but the A’s want Ellis’ surgically repaired right shoulder to be ready for any kind of game situation (including diving back to first base if necessary). A tentative schedule from the training staff has him not playing second in a game until March 25.

–In the spirit of trying to give you some non-injury stuff, you should see how crowded the A’s clubhouse here at Phoenix Muni Stadium is. It’s a pretty big, wide-open space, but the A’s invited 62 players to camp, a huge number. A few portable lockers had to be wheeled in, and they’re set up right in the middle of the room (for some of the younger prospects that are lowest on the totem pole, of course).

Dana Eveland on the hill today against Milwaukee, with Dallas Braden going tomorrow in Phoenix against the Cleveland Indians, Cactus League newcomers …

… Almost forgot to give you today’s lineup:

Davis  CF

Buck RF

Holliday LF

Giambi 1B

Cust DH

Suzuki C

Crosby SS

Dillon 3B

Pennington 2B

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Foxsports: Nomar will either sign with A’s or retire

Nomar Garciaparra is reportedly narrowed his decision down to either signing with the Oakland A’s or opting for retirement.
Garciaparra, a career .313 hitter who batted .264 in 55 games with the Dodgers last year, was being pursued by both the A’s and Phillies. Foxsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, citing multiple sources, reported that Philadelphia is “fairly certain” to be out of the running for the 35-year-old Garciaparra.
Rosenthal also has updates on the A’s pursuit of shortstop Orlando Cabrera and left-handed reliever Denys Reyes.
Here’s a link to Rosenthal’s report.

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Update from A’s-Angels

Here’s a few notes from today’s game, where the A’s fell 3-1 to the Angels in Tempe.

–Sean Gallagher started and went two shutout innings but had to work out of jams each inning. Right now these guys are mainly concerned with getting a feel for their pitches. Gallagher said he’s only throwing his fastball, curve and changeup right now, leaving the slider for later. “It’s a pitch I can pick up pretty quick, (and) it’s a pitch that puts a lot of torque on my elbow.” His highlight was a strikeout of new Angels outfielder Bobby Abreu. Gallagher got him to chase for strike three.

–Newcomer Michael Wuertz, who was with the Cubs last year, followed with a scoreless inning. He’s in a crowded competition to win a bullpen spot.

–Jack Cust hit a long homer down the RF line to get the A’s on the board in the sixth. He also took a called third strike (you knew you were going to read that, didn’t you?) and flew out to left.

–Highly touted lefty Brett Anderson pitched the fourth and gave up two runs after two were out. I didn’t see his whole inning as I was hustling down to grab Gallagher. But Anderson said, “I was trying to overthrow. I was throwing too hard. With two out, I learned I can’t coast through it.”

–Eric Chavez went 1-for-3 as DH, singling in his first at-bat. He’s set to DH again Saturday and start at third base Tuesday.

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Today’s lineup vs. Angels

Lots of regulars are getting the day off today against the Angels, though Eric Chavez at DH is one big exception. Bob Geren said he’s mapped out playing schedules for his starters over the next several days. Some guys he’s going to play every other day, others will have a two days-on, one day-off schedule. As for Chavy, Geren said yesterday the A’s are targeting Tuesday for his first action at third base.

Today’s lineup: Sweeney, CF; Denorfia LF; Chavez DH; Cust RF; Carter 1B; Hannahan 3B; Pennington SS; Bowen C; Patterson 2B;

Gallagher P 

–Patterson gets his second straight start at 2B with Mark Ellis out. Geren said Pennington would probably start there tomorrow.

First pitch 1:05 p.m. (12:05 Bay Area!!)

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More on A’s Cactus League opener

A few leftovers from the A’s 3-3 tie with Milwaukee, a 10-inning affair that kicked off the Cactus League:

–The A’s went through eight pitchers, so the game couldn’t really continue past 10 innings. The last pitcher was Cal product Tyson Ross, so scratch what I said earlier about him possibly pitching tomorrow in Tempe against the Angels.

–Newcomer Chris Schroder and Jeff Gray each threw scoreless innings. Jerry Blevins gave up the two runs that tied the game in the eighth, but he can’t take all the blame. With two outs, third baseman Joe Dillon lost a foul pop-up in the sun. That allowed Chris Duffy to continue his at-bat and bloop a game-tying single.

–Jared Lansford, son of former Athletic and current Giants hitting coach Carney Lansford, pitched an inning. With the game 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth, he put two runners on but got a 4-6-3 double play to escape the jam.

–New Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman entered the game with his ninth-inning theme song “Hell’s Bells” blasting — only this came in the seventh inning Wednesday. Bizarre, but that’s spring training for you …

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Outman’s comments vs. Brewers

Just talked with Josh Outman, who started today’s Cactus League opener against the Brewers and hardly broke a sweat. He went two innings and gave up just one hit, his only base runner, with one strikeout. “It felt great,” Outman said. “I don’t think I could have asked for a better first outing.” Gio Gonzalez, also a major player for the No. 5 starting spot, followed with two innings and surrendered an opposite-field homer to Corey Hart. He gave up two hits with a strikeout and no walks.

We’re in the eighth inning, 3-1 A’s. The offensive highlights: A solo homer from Bobby Crosby and a two-run shot from leadoff man Travis Buck.