Arthroscopic surgery for Duchscherer; other pregame happenings

Phoenix Muni has a little more of a regular-season feel to it today, with the A’s preparing for a night game against San Diego. They took the field to stretch at 3:15 p.m. — a very similar routine to a 7:05 game at the Coliseum. Fittingly, the A’s lineup has a regular-season look also. We’ll get to that …

The big news of the afternoon is that Justin Duchscherer will have arthroscopic surgery on his elbow sometime early next week, the day and the doctor is TBA. Bob Geren didn’t have details on what the procedure was hoping to accomplish, but figure Duchscherer misses several weeks minimum. He didn’t want to discuss it, referring reporters to Geren. “Anytime you lose one of your guys it’s disappointing,” Geren said. “He was projected as a No. 1 guy. It’s something we have to overcome as a team.”

–Today’s starting lineup could very well be the one you see April 6 against the Angels. Most noteworthy, Ryan Sweeney is in the leadoff spot, with Travis Buck hitting eighth. As good as Buck has been, I think you have to get Sweeney as many at-bats as possible w/what he showed last season and this spring so far. The batting order against former Cy Young winner Jake Peavy:

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

Cahill P …

Geren said Buck is still a leadoff candidate, as is Orlando Cabrera. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cabrera lead off a bit against lefties. Geren mentioned Ellis and Suzuki as candidates to hit second.

–Chavez is set to get two at-bats tonight, and he’ll play in the field for as long as it takes for that to happen.

–I haven’t written much about outfielder Ben Copeland, who the A’s snagged in the Rule 5 draft this winter from the Giants’ system. That’s because Copeland has been sidelined w/an injury suffered when he slammed into the center field wall making a catch in a game a couple of weeks ago. Talk about rotten timing. Rule 5 guys need every inning they can get to make an impression, because the team that drafts them has to either keep them on the 25-man roster all season or offer them back to their former team. The fact that Copeland hasn’t been on the field lately all but assures the A’s offer him back to the Giants, although Copeland faced an uphill battle to make the roster anyway. At any rate, the guy looks like he has some tools so it’s a shame he’s not playing. Copeland said the jolt against the fence shifted a few vertebrae in his back. It screwed up his alignment, and his neck began hurting, with the pain eventually trickling down to his left shoulder. He had an MRI on his neck, but it’s the shoulder that’s keeping him from playing. He was going to try playing catch today.

–Dallas Braden threw in a minor league game today to stay on his regular throwing rotation. He went five innings in a Triple-A game against the Angels and allowed one earned run, four hits with four strikeouts and four walks, which he wasn’t happy about. “It’s kind of hard to get up for a game like that,” Braden said. The A’s still haven’t told him he’s the Opening Day starter, Braden claims, and he insists he’s not taking anything for granted. Why did the A’s decide to start Cahill against the Padres tonight and throw Braden in the minors? Probably to see Cahill perform in a more high-pressure situation. As I mentioned in today’s paper, Cahill is a strong bet to make the rotation with Duchscherer out for the immediate future.

–Last thing, the A’s practiced a 1st-to-3rd baserunning drill this afternoon. “Some of our guys are fast enough to be better at it,” Geren said. He invited some of the players who are really good at going first to third on a single to tutor the others. Who’s the best on the team at it? “Holliday is by far the best (on the team), and one of the best in baseball,” Geren said.

That’s all for now …

Joe Stiglich