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Outman makes case for rotation; A’s beat K.C.

Josh Outman turned in 5 2/3 strong innings as the A’s beat Kansas City 7-2 this afternoon at Phoenix Muni. His line: 5 2/3 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Outman is still being considered for the rotation, and long story short, he only strengthened his case today. It’s looking like the A’s are still deciding between Sean Gallagher and Outman for one spot in the rotation.

Outman also could be a natural fit in a long relief role. What’s unknown is whether Gallagher would also be considered as a long man in the bullpen if he doesn’t make the rotation.

–Justin Duchscherer had his elbow scoped this morning by Dr. Lewis Yocum in Southern California. According to manager Bob Geren, Yocum “cleaned up the joint a little bit, nothing major.” I had mentioned six weeks as a ballpark recovery time for such a procedure, but it will depend on how Duchscherer feels when he starts throwing, and it’s unknown when that might be.

–First baseman Jason Giambi snapped an 0-for-20 slump when he lined an RBI single to center in the first inning today. He went 1-for-3 and is hitting just .136 in exhibitions. Not sure how worried I’d be about the average, but his one homer is his only extra-base hit in 44 at-bats.

–Ryan Sweeney returned to the lineup after missing two games with a left quad injury and went 2-for-2 before leaving. Geren said before the game he only planned to play Sweeney long enough to get two at-bats.

–Travis Buck cleared the bases with a three-run triple in the fourth.

–The A’s are trying to get as many of their frontline relievers back-to-back outings as possible. Russ Springer pitched for the second straight day but went just 1/3 of an inning. Springer hasn’t been incredibly sharp this spring, but he told me last week he rarely pitches great during camp. He also said he felt his arm was ready for the regular season a couple of weeks ago, and that because of the extra-long spring training, the trick was maintaining his arm and not over-working it.

Santiago Casilla pitched two innings of one-hit ball.

–Bobby Crosby was a late scratch at second base today because of a sore right hamstring, but said he could be back tomorrow.

The A’s host the Cubs tomorrow in their final Cactus League game before they fly home for the Bay Bridge Series with the Giants from Thursday-Saturday. …

It’s been one long spring …

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Devine headed to DL; out indefinitely with elbow injury

We learned this morning that right-hander Joey Devine will open the season on the disabled list with an elbow injury that he really hasn’t shaken since last season. Devine will visit elbow specialist Dr. James Andrews either Wednesday or Thursday of next week to try to decipher how significant the injury is.

Needless to say, it’s a huge blow as the A’s prepare for Monday’s season opener against the Angels. Devine and Brad Ziegler were set to open the season as co-closers, but it was generally thought among baseball observers that Devine’s stuff would allow him to eventually assume the full-time role. It’s a recurring injury that landed Devine on the DL for much of last season. He eventually returned to the mound (his 0.59 ERA was the lowest in major league history among pitchers with a minimum 25 IP). But the elbow was enough of an issue that the A’s had him visit Andrews in October. Devine missed three weeks of action once spring camp started, and his elbow flared up again yesterday.

“I spent the entire offseason and rehabbed it and then it came back as soon as I got to game-ready, the first part of spring training,” Devine said. “That tells me there is something there.”

With Devine out, Ziegler takes over the closer’s role, and Bob Geren said Russ Springer and Santiago Casilla could also be called upon on days Ziegler isn’t available for the ninth. Springer, 40, was signed to be an eighth-inning man and has just eight saves in his 16 big league seasons. Casilla has four saves, seeing just the occasional ninth-inning opportunity in recent seasons with Oakland. “Casilla is definitely throwing the ball right now where I would have confidence putting him in the ninth inning too,” Geren said.

Devine’s absence has a trickle-down effect on how the A’s can handle their bullpen. They’re expected to carry seven relievers. Ziegler, Springer, Casilla, Wuertz and left-hander Jerry Blevins, at first glance, would take five spots. The A’s could also carry two long relievers, as Geren has said might be necessary because of his young rotation. In that case, think lefties Josh Outman and Gio Gonzalez (if Gonzalez is healthy). Or, if the A’s want to avoid having three lefties, they could sub in prospect Andrew Bailey for Blevins. Bailey hasn’t allowed a run in 10 spring outings.

Of course, Outman is starting today’s game against the Royals, and Geren still considers him a rotation candidate. “We haven’t finalized anything in our rotation and probably won’t until after the Bay (Bridge) Series,” Geren said.

The rest of today’s lineup vs. KC:

Sweeney CF
Cabrera SS
Giambi 1B
Holliday LF
Garciaparra 3B
Cust RF
Suzuki C
Buck DH
Crosby 2B

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A’s 9, Dodgers 5

A couple quick hitters from the A’s 9-5 victory over the Dodgers, their second win in a row after losing 10 straight:

–Young lefty Brett Anderson bounced back from a three-run first inning to throw five shutout innings after that. His final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.

He also got to face Manny Ramirez for the first time. The Dodgers’ No. 3 singled in his first at-bat, then walked, and then Anderson got him on a groundout to third. Anderson doesn’t seem in awe of much on a big league mound, and while he said he didn’t know how to pitch Ramirez, he didn’t seem overwhelmed by the experience either. “It’s fun facing those guys,” he said, as the Dodgers pretty much played their ‘A’ lineup. “It lets you get honed in a little more.” You can pretty much write in ink that this guy’s in the starting rotation …

–Reliever Joey Devine left the game in the eighth inning, and Bob Geren indicated Devine’s elbow was hurting him again. Obviously, that’s potentially huge news, but we won’t know more on his condition until the morning. Devine loaded the bases, and then Jerry Blevins allowed a two-run double, but the A’s were already way ahead.

–Nomar Garciaparra hit a two-run homer in the second, homer No. 2 for him on the spring.

–Eric Chavez had a good day, doubling and scoring two runs. He looked good moving around the bases and also dove all-out for a single that shot through the hole at third. Another signal he very well may play Opening Night. …

That’s all for now …

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Just Manny being Manny

Manny Ramirez’s sometimes adventurous left-field play is in midseason form. We’re in the second inning of an A’s-Dodgers exhibition, and Jack Cust just lifted a long fly to left-center. Ramirez wandered over to the warning track and seemed to have a beat on the ball, only to let it go through his glove. Then he slipped on his rear in a big cloud of dust. That’s even more entertaining than watching him rip a homer, even for Dodger fans, I’m guessing. … Mark Ellis followed with another fly to left, which Ramirez caught and received a large ovation for.

A’s lefty Brett Anderson endured a rocky first inning, allowing three runs on four hits. I’m guessing his heart was beating pretty fast when Ramirez stepped in as the Dodgers’ No. 3 hitter. Manny smoked a single to left on the first pitch.

Nomar Garciaparra hit a two-run homer in the top of the second, and the A’s lead 7-3 after two innings.

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Selig appoints committee to study Oakland’s stadium situation

 Bud Selig and Major League Baseball are going to do some fact-finding to determine what the next move should be for Lew Wolff’s Oakland A’s. Here is the text of the press release from MLB that was just handed out:

“After meeting with ownership and management of the Oakland Athletics in Phoenix, Arizona on Saturday, Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today that he has appointed a committee to thoroughly analyze all of the ballpark proposals that have been made to date, the current situation in Oakland, and the prospects of obtaining a ballpark in any of the communities located in Oakland’s territory.

Oakland’s current lease expires in 2010 with three one-year club options beyond that date.

The committee will be chaired by Bob Starkey, a stadium expert and financial consultant for Major League Baseball. It also will consist of Corey Busch, a former baseball executive, and Irwin Raij, a lawyer with Foley and Lardner who worked extensively on both the Washington and Miami ballpark proposals. They will work with MLB President & Chief Operating Officer Bob DuPuy and will provide a written report to the Commissioner at the conclusion of their analysis.

“Lew Wolff and the Oakland ownership group and management have worked very hard to obtain a facility that will allow them to compete into the 21st Century,” Commissioner Selig said. “To date they, like the two ownership groups in Oakland before them, have been unsuccessful in those efforts, despite having the significant support of their corporate partner Cisco. The time has come for a thorough analysis of why a stadium deal has not been reached. The A’s cannot and will not continue indefinitely in their current situation.”

 

 

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Monday morning update from A’s camp

The morning happenings as the A’s prepare to play the Dodgers today at Camelback Ranch, their second game at the Glendale ballpark in the past six days:

–Backup catcher Landon Powell is recovering from a strained intercostal muscle (located in the ribs), enough to where he’ll make today’s trip to catch bullpens. He’s also hitting off a tee. With the regular season starting a week from today, the A’s need to figure out if Powell will be ready for the active roster or if he needs to go on the DL. Recently acquired Curtis Thigpen is starting today at catcher, and he’ll be the likely backup should Powell not be ready for Opening Night. “Any time you have a player not healthy a week before the season, it’s a concern,” Bob Geren said of Powell. “But it’s been eight days now, and that injury usually is a week- to 10-day type thing.”

–Center fielder Ryan Sweeney isn’t playing today because of a tight left quad, but he’s doing all other baseball activity and could be back in the lineup tomorrow.

–Gio Gonzalez is testing his sore left shoulder in a minor league game today. If all goes well, Geren said he would probably pitch in a game with the big league club later in the week.

–Nomar Garciaparra gets his first start at first base today. With Eric Chavez coming along well at third, it makes sense to get Garciaparra some time over at first. If Chavez plays regularly, Garciaparra’s main role will be spelling Chavez at third and Jason Giambi at first (along with some DH time). Garciaparra told me this morning he doesn’t think he’ll need much time at first to be ready for the regular season. He’s been doing pre-game work all over the diamond.

Today’s lineup:

Davis CF
Cabrera SS
Garciaparra 1B
Chavez 3B
Cust DH
Ellis 2B
Denorfia LF
Buck RF
Thigpen C

Brett Anderson pitching …

I’ll try to throw a couple in-game updates on here, so check back a little later …

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Denorfia’s walkoff HR snaps losing streak

Chris Denorfia lined a two-run homer to left field off Franklin Morales in the bottom of the ninth to lift the A’s past Colorado 7-6 today. That snapped the A’s 10-game Cactus League losing streak, their longest in spring training since records started being kept in 1986.

–Sean Gallagher wasn’t his sharpest in five innings, and both he and Bob Geren said he was leaving too many pitches over the plate after getting ahead of hitters. Gallagher got a not-so-subtle hint that he needs to pull it together, as GM Billy Beane grabbed him for a private chat as reporters were showing up to the clubhouse to talk to him. “Just basically lighting a little fire under the butt,” Gallagher said of the conversation. Gallagher is on turn to pitch Friday’s Bay Bridge Series game against the Giants, and would then pitch the third game of the regular season if the current rotation holds. I don’t see an obvious replacement for him if he wasn’t in the starting rotation. Josh Outman is an option, but he’s coming off a poor outing.

–The A’s sent six players down to the minors after the game. They optioned reliever Chris Schroder, infielder Gregorio Petit and outfielder Aaron Cunningham to Triple-A, and reassigned right-hander Edgar Gonzalez, catcher Joel Galarraga and infielder Corey Wimberly to minor league camp.

The biggest news there involves Gonzalez, who had pitched his way out of contention for the starting rotation but still could have been a long relief candidate. The A’s will keep at least one long reliever (Geren hasn’t ruled out two), and Outman and Gio Gonzalez are the top contenders for that …

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Short day for ex-Athletic Smith

Thought I’d give you a quick mid-game update from Phoenix Muni:

Rockies left-hander Greg Smith, one of three players the A’s dealt to Colorado for Matt Holliday, lasted just 1 2/3 innings today against Oakland. He allowed five runs (three earned) and was pulled early because of inflammation in his shoulder, which he said is typical for him during the spring. It’s just unfortunate for the lefty, because he’s battling for the fifth spot in Colorado’s rotation.

As for the other two players the A’s gave up in that deal, Carlos Gonzalez started in left field today and made a diving catch to rob Mark Ellis in the third inning. Gonzalez had been out since March 21 because of a rib-cage injury, and he may start the season in Triple-A. Huston Street didn’t make the trip, but may land their closer’s job. This story from the Denver Post gives a good update on all three players.

On the A’s side, it wasn’t the smoothest outing for Sean Gallagher — 5 IP, 9 hits, 6 runs (5 earned), 1 BB, 2 K.

Rockies lead 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth. Rajai Davis’ two-run double has been the offensive highlight for the A’s …

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Geren’s morning update

Following up after Bob Geren conducted his media chat:

To clarify Gio Gonzalez’s upcoming schedule: Gio had told me he thought he might pitch w/the A’s on Tuesday. Geren says Gonzalez will pitch in a minor league game, which makes sense considering how much time he’s missed with a shoulder injury. And Geren emphasized Gonzalez is still under consideration for the major league roster as a long reliever. “He wouldn’t be built up pitch-count wise to start the season as a starter.”

Geren mentioned earlier this week that he might want two long relievers simply because his starting pitchers will be so young and unproven. So there’s a chance the A’s could keep two in the bullpen from a group that includes Gio Gonzalez, Josh Outman and Edgar Gonzalez. But again, Gio Gonzalez has to show he’s healthy and effective, and he’s got a short time to do it.

Other tidbits:

–Justin Duchscherer’s arthroscopic elbow surgery will be Tuesday.

–Eric Chavez will get two at-bats in his start today at third, and Geren plans to start him again tomorrow and give him three at-bats. If Chavez’s right shoulder is able to handle back-to-back games, that would be a major indication he could be ready for Opening Day.

–Backup catcher Landon Powell (strained rib muscle) is feeling recovered enough that he’ll start catching pitchers in the bullpen and swinging the bat (not hitting, just swinging).

–First baseman Daric Barton is available to get a couple of at-bats today after being out since Tuesday with the strained right quad that’s bothered him much of camp.

–You never know who’ll drop by camp: Former A’s skipper Art Howe is here this morning. He stopped by equipment manager Steve Vucinich’s office and then found Jason Giambi behind the batting cage and gave him a hug …