The home clubhouse at Phoenix Municipal Stadium got a little less crowded this morning as eight players were sent down to the minors. Most notable among them — non-roster right-hander Jerome Williams, who was considered a strong candidate for the A’s rotation. Second baseman Eric Patterson, third baseman Jeff Baisley and right-hander Ryan Webb were optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. Williams, right-hander James Simmons (who had an outside chance at the rotation), and right-handed reliever Kevin Cameron were reassigned to minor league camp, along with infielders Joe Dillon and Sean Doolittle. (To clarify: If a player wasn’t on the 40-man roster, he gets “reassigned” to the minors; if he was on the 40-man, he gets “optioned” and remains on the 40-man.)
Sending Williams down is another indication the A’s are strongly considering one of their young blue-chip prospects (Vin Mazzaro, Trevor Cahill or Brett Anderson) for the rotation. Williams came into camp looking like a starting candidate because of his prior big league experience. He wasn’t terrible in Cactus League games (4.00 ERA in four appearances, but no starts). Bob Geren said this morning that Williams would probably begin the season in Sacramento’s rotation, so he’s a decent option as an emergency starter in the bigs when needed.
–Simmons is likely to join Williams in the Triple-A rotation, which also figures to include any from the trio of Anderson, Cahill and Mazzaro who aren’t in the majors. Geren had good things to say about Doolittle, a first baseman considered to be excellent defensively. “He’s got some similar actions around the bag to Don Mattingly,” said Geren, a teammate of Mattingly’s with the Yankees. Doolittle was hitting .364 this spring and his 9 RBI leads the A’s.
–Reliever Joey Devine is scheduled to throw a flat-ground side session Tuesday, followed by a bullpen session off the mound Thursday. Write that in pencil, as we all know the schedules for the A’s walking wounded change by the day.
–Eric Chavez took grounders at third, though his throwing is limited to long toss for now. He’s still targeting Wednesday or Thursday to start hitting again.
–Today’s lineup vs. the visiting Dodgers, who are without Manny Ramirez but will have ex-Giants Jason Schmidt and Shawn Estes throwing:
Cahill starting on the mound …