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A’s minor league recap: RiverCats promote Chen, Galarraga

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm for the A’s affiliates:

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

Injuries to the A’s Mark Ellis and Nomar Garciaparra led to promotions to Oakland for River Cats infielder Eric Patterson and reliever Kevin Cameron. Sacramento restocked its roster by adding 25-year-old second baseman Yung-Chi Chen, the ex-Mariners prospect who was at Double-A Midland, and 27-year-old catcher Joel Galarraga, signed from the Mexican League in January, who was at extended spring training.

Sacramento was off Wednesday, but Galarraga started Thursday night and caught Vin Mazzarro, who came into the game with a 0-0 record and a 1.35 ERA. Sacramento made room behind the plate for Galarraga by sending slumping Anthony Recker (.156 batting average in 14 games) to Midland.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

Adrian Cardenas continued his torrid hitting by collecting three hits and five RBI in the RockHounds’ 16-9 win over Corpus Christi (Astros) on Wednesday. Cardenas, who moved back to playing second base to make room for Josh Horton at shortstop, is hitting .355.

Chris Carter is in a bit of a Holliday-esque home run slump, but the first baseman collected two more RBI and his 21 runs driven in are second in the Texas League. Horton, limited to DH duties because of a sore throwing shoulder, had three hits and is batting .339.

Meanwhile, a lot of attention at the game was paid to Corpus Christi catcher Koby Clemens’ dad, Roger, who was in attendance. In fact, Clemens threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Thursday night.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Three of the A’s four affiliates are in first place. Then there’s the Ports. Stockton fell to 4-16 after Wednesday’s 11-8 loss to Visalia (Diamondbacks).

More bad news came in the form of an injury to ex-Cal and Bishop O’Dowd High pitcher Tyson Ross, who was placed on the seven-day disabled list with biceps tendinitis. Ross had a 4.40 ERA in three starts.

The Ports’ struggling offense got a boost from the promotion of David Thomas (14th round, ’08 draft) from Kane County. Thomas was hitting .360 and was tied for the Midwest League lead in homers with four.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Kane County filled the hole left by David Thomas by adding 20-year-old outfielder Jeremy Barfield (8th round, ’08) from extended spring training. Barfield’s father, Jesse, was a former major league outfielder and his brother, Josh, is currently in the Indians’ minor league system after spending most of the last three years in the majors.

Jeremy Barfield is beginning his first full season in pro ball after batting .271 with three homers and 41 RBI last summer at Short-A Vancouver.

The Cougars fell 2-1 to Lansing (Blue Jays) on Wednesday but remain in first place.

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More on Chavy

Eric Chavez was pulled from the lineup today with a strained right forearm, which an A’s official said is the same ailment that was previously labeled an elbow injury. We’ll see what Chavez has to say after the game …

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Chavez scratched after all

When it comes to the A’s lineup card, it’s always wise to keep the White Out handy. We didn’t find out until Oakland started batting in the top of the first that Eric Chavez was scratched from the lineup. Since the morning began, he went from playing first base, to playing third, to not playing at all. There’s been no further explanation yet, but my guess would be his elbow began acting up. Bobby Crosby is starting at third (and just made a sweet diving grab on Ian Kinsler’s grounder), with Landon Powell playing first …

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No Giambi for A’s; Chavez starting at 3B

Lots of on-field activity this morning at Rangers Ballpark. The A’s and Rangers each took batting practice, which is pretty unusual for a day game. But with yesterday’s rainout, both teams want to sharpen up, I suppose. …

No Jason Giambi for the A’s today, as his hamstrings need another day of rest. Bob Geren thinks he might be able to play in tomorrow’s series opener in Seattle. … Just got word that Eric Chavez will start at third base. He was penciled in to play first, but Geren mentioned to reporters that he would play Chavez at third if his elbow felt good during pre-game drills. “My preference if Eric’s arm is available would be to do that,” Geren said. That means Bobby Crosby draws his second start at first base.

I’m wondering how wise it is to have Chavez play third, if there was doubt surrounding his elbow as recently as Tuesday. Crosby has looked better at third recently, and says he’s feeling more comfortable there.

Closer Brad Ziegler is under the weather, and Geren said the plan was for Ziegler to show up to the stadium around game time to see how he felt. If he’s unavailable, that leaves the A’s with a five-man bullpen unless Santiago Casilla (right calf) is able to go. I’m sure Geren would like to avoid using him. Regardless, the A’s would sure like to see Dallas Braden pitch deep into today’s game …

The A’s lineup: Sweeney CF; Cabrera SS; Cust DH; Holliday LF; Chavez 3B; Suzuki C; Buck RF; Crosby 1B; Patterson 2B; Braden P.

Rangers lineup: Kinsler 2B; Byrd CF; Young 3B; Jones LF; Blalock DH; Cruz RF; Davis 1B; Saltalamacchia C; Andrus SS; Padilla P.

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A’s revised pitching schedule

The A’s have shuffled their rotation a bit with tonight’s rainout. Josh Outman, who would have started tonight, won’t go until Sunday against Seattle. Dallas Braden will take his regular turn tomorrow afternoon against Texas, with Dana Eveland and Trevor Cahill going Friday and Saturday against Seattle as planned. Outman goes Sunday, with Brett Anderson beign pushed back a day to Monday against the Angels. The extra day gives Anderson more time to heal from the blister on his left hand.

Jason Giambi is hoping his hamstrings are feeling better and that he might be able to play tomorrow. If he can’t, Eric Chavez should make his first career start at first base. …

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Latest update

The rain delay is at about 25 minutes right now, and it’s still coming down pretty hard. The most recent announcement was that first pitch wouldn’t be before 5:30 p.m. (West Coast time), and we’re past that now. There’s no way they could start the game until this storm passes through.

When I know more, I’ll pass it along …

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Rain delay expected

There was just an announcement that first pitch will likely be delayed tonight because of showers expected to hit Arlington soon. Obviously, I didn’t miss my calling as a weather man, as I said in my last post that heavy rain wasn’t expected. At that point, they were getting ready to take the tarp off the infield, but now it’s back on. Weather.com says there’s a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms.

We’ll keep you posted …

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Starting at first base for the A’s … Eric Chavez

Not a misprint in that subject line, folks. Eric Chavez is starting at first base for the A’s tonight against the Texas Rangers. It turns out both of Jason Giambi’s hamstrings are sore. He had been nursing one sore hamstring, and the other one tightened up on him as he beat out an infield single last night in the fifth inning (who knew how close the A’s were to losing FIVE players in one game?).

This is quite an odd twist on things, but we’ve come to expect the unexpected w/this team. Chavez said just last night he was 2-3 days away from playing, but manager Bob Geren clarified in today’s media chat that it’s primarily the throwing aspect that is holding Chavez back from playing third. “Eric’s arm is still not quite ready to play third, but he can swing,” Geren said. I didn’t get a chance to grab Chavez before he went out to stretch to get his reaction to all of this.

Chavez has made exactly one major league appearance at first, and that came in 2001, when he started at third and made a mid-game switch. But Geren said he had no problem sticking Chavez there. “He’s a Gold Glove fielder.”

Think Geren is desperately trying to scrape together some offense? He could have played Bobby Crosby or Hannahan at third, and let the other one play first, but with Giambi and Nomar Garciaparra out, the A’s need some thunder in there (not that Chavez and his .100 average have created much thunder so far).

Back when spring training started, would you have guessed that Bobby Crosby, Landon Powell and Eric Chavez would have seen time at first base??? But the bigger concern here is Giambi’s status. I didn’t talk to him either before stretch, as there was no indication he was hurting. Geren said he was hopeful Giambi could play in tomorrow afternoon’s game. If not, he wouldn’t rule out Chavez playing more first base(interesting note: Geren talked with Chavez during one game earlier this season about moving to first if the A’s had tied the score).

Geren was emphatic in saying there are no plans to shift Chavez to first on a full-time basis.

While you’re digesting all of this, some other tidbits:

–Eric Patterson, freshly arrived from Sacramento, draws the start today at second base.

–Brett Anderson had his left index finger taped, but said his blister shouldn’t keep him from making his next start Sunday. He also had a blister form on the hand last year, and didn’t miss any time.

–Geren said he’d try to avoid using Santiago Casilla at all costs today. He’s officially day to day with a sore right calf, and the promotion of Kevin Cameron gives the A’s six healthy relievers.

–Weather update: The tarp is on the field here at Rangers Ballpark right now, but it doesn’t appear to be raining at the moment. And to my understanding, there’s no heavy showers in tonight’s forecast.

Here’s the A’s lineup: Sweeney CF; Cabrera SS; Cust DH; Holliday LF; Chavez 1B; Suzuki C; Buck RF; Crosby 3B; Patterson 2B; Outman P.

For the Rangers, still without slugger Josh Hamilton, who’s out with sore ribs: Kinsler 2B; Byrd CF; Young 3B; Jones LF; Blalock DH; Cruz RF; Davis 1B; Saltalamacchia C; Andrus SS; Padilla P.

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Ellis, Nomar to the DL; Patterson, Cameron promoted

As expected, the A’s placed Mark Ellis and Nomar Garciaparra on the 15-day disabled list, and called up infielder Eric Patterson and reliever Kevin Cameron from Triple-A Sacramento. Cameron was not on the 40-man roster, so to make room for him, the club transferred Justin Duchscherer to the 60-day DL. That’s no big deal. Duchscherer, recovering from elbow surgery, will be eligible to come off the DL June 4, and he probably wouldn’t be ready to pitch before then anyway.

Here’s a look at Patterson’s career stats. He hit .174 in 30 games with Oakland last season after coming over in the Rich Harden trade from the Cubs. Cameron appeared in 58 games, all in relief, over the past two seasons w/San Diego. His addition still leaves the A’s with a six-man bullpen assuming Santiago Casilla misses some time w/his calf injury.

More to come in a bit …