Word on Cust, new A’s lineup

Jack Cust was scratched from today’s game because of tightness in his lower back. Cust was walking around somewhat gingerly in the clubhouse before the game but there wasn’t any indication that he couldn’t play. We’ll get some more news on this after the game.   

A’s — Cabrera SS, Suzuki C, Holliday LF, Giambi DH, Kennedy 2B, Crosby 1B, Sweeney RF, Davis CF, Hannahan 3B.


Nomar on DL, Cust out

This will surely come as a shock to A’s fans, but Nomar Garciaparra was again placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Sunday, with a strained right calf. It’s the same injury that kept Garciaparra out of action from April 29 to May 21. He played Friday and Saturday but was out of the lineup Sunday, when the plan was to use him as a DH for that day’s game.  After sitting Monday, he was put in the lineup for Tuesday’s game against Seattle but was a late scratch.

The A’s brought up RHP Jeff Gray, who has a 2.04 ERA in 14 games with Sacramento, to take Garciaparra’s spot on the roster.

Garciaparra has played just 14 games so far this season and given that he’s now been on the DL five times since the start of the 2008 season, the A’s have been working with Travis Buck to get him a little more familiar with first base. Buck has played 27 games this season in the outfield and but has been doing some work at first for the last week or so. He also played third base at Arizona State

Garciaparra will stay in the Bay Area for treatment when the A’s go on their road trip through Texas and Chicago. A’s manager Bob Geren said Garciaparra might play a few games on rehab assignment before he’s eligible to rejoin Oakland June 8 against Minnesota.

Geren said he’d like to give Buck more time to prepare himself for first base but would be OK putting him in game right now if need be. Not so fast, said third base coach Mike Gallego.

“(He’s) not ready (enough) for me. That’s not an easy position to learn,” Gallego said. “He’s taking ground balls, but to throw him in a game, he’s not even close.”

Barring a rainout on the road trip, the A’s will need to call up another starter. But Geren said the club is no closer to deciding who that pitcher will be.  

Ryan Sweeney replaced Jack Cust in right field just before the first pitch. No word yet on if there’s a problem with Cust, who was the only A’s player to start all 43 games so far.

The lineups:

A’s – Cabrera SS, Suzuki C, Sweeney RF, Holliday LF, Giambi DH, Kennedy 2B, Crosby 1B, Davis CF, Hannahan 3B, Cahill P.

Mariners – Suzuki RF, Betancourt SS, Beltre 3B, Griffey Jr., DH, Branyan 1B, Cedeno 2B, Johnson C, Chavez LF, Gutierrez CF, Bedard P.


Good news — and bad — for A’s

The A’s have put together their first three-game win streak of the season with tonight’s come-from-behind 4-3 win over Seattle. But in the process, they’ve likely lost Nomar Garciaparra to the DL again. He was a late scratch today when his right calf acted up again, and being that the injury has resurfaced twice since he came back from his first DL stint Friday, I’d say it’s a pretty likely conclusion.

On the bright side for the A’s, they got a game-winning hit from Jason Giambi with the bases loaded, after he failed in the same situation in the first inning. Dallas Braden turned in a solid seven innings and was finally rewarded with some run support, not to mention his first victory since April 30.

But maybe the biggest development tonight: A bounce-back effort from closer-at-the-moment Andrew Bailey. The rookie was back to being dominant with a 1-2-3 ninth that included two strikeouts on high 90’s fastballs (if the stadium radar gun is to be believed). It was an important night for Bailey after he blew leads in each of his two previous outings. But remember, Bob Geren still isn’t officially naming him as closer (wink, wink).

Actually, I still think Brad Ziegler will get his number called in the ninth depending on the situation …

12:35 game tomorrow with Trevor Cahill going against Erik Bedard …


A late scratch

Nomar Garciaparra’s return to the lineup was short-lived. He was a late scratch at DH tonight. We can only assume his right calf started acting up again. Jason Giambi shifts to DH with Bobby Crosby switching from third to first base, and Jack Hannahan entering the lineup at third. Here’s the new order:

Cabrera SS
Suzuki C
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi DH
Kennedy 2B
Crosby 1B
Davis CF
Hannahan 3B


Nomar at DH tonight

Nomar Garciaparra makes his return to the A’s lineup tonight at DH. If the A’s could get four games a week out of him, I think they’d take that. Bob Geren said he’d be careful in how he uses Garciaparra because of his calf issues. Jarrod Washburn pitches for Seattle tonight, and the Mariners have another lefty going tomorrow afternoon in Erik Bedard. Geren said he’d be happy if the right-handed hitting Garciaparra could start strictly against lefties for the time being.

A bit of encouraging news on Justin Duchscherer: He reported his back feels much better, and he’ll resume his throwing program from where he left off a couple days ago. The next step for him will be throwing off a mound as he comes back from elbow surgery.

Interleague play is truly upon us: A’s pitchers were on the field taking early BP today. A little bunting, a few swings, even a baserunning refresher course. Geren said Josh Outman looked the best in today’s group. Fitting, as Outman was hitting regularly for the Phillies’ Double-A team when he got traded to the A’s last July. Outman said the Phillies stressed the importance of pitchers handling the bat well, and that philosophy trickled down to the minors. “At home, we bunted every day,” Outman said.

So much for my prediction that Adam Kennedy would bat second tonight. He’s back in the seventh spot after yesterday’s 4-for-4 day. Geren said he’ll consider batting the left-handed hitter No. 2 against right-handers. I still would have swapped him w/Suzuki.

Here’s the A’s full lineup:
Cabrera SS; Suzuki C; Cust RF; Holliday LF; Giambi 1B; Garciaparra DH; Kennedy 2B; Crosby 3B; Davis CF; Braden P.

Mariners lineup:
Ichiro RF; Betancourt SS; Beltre 3B; Sweeney DH; Branyan 1B; Lopez 2B; Balentien LF; Johnson C; Gutierrez CF; Washburn P.


Movin’ on up?

It’s no secret that Adam Kennedy is on an absolute tear right now, as you saw in today’s 6-1 A’s victory over Seattle. Bob Geren hinted after the game that Kennedy probably has to keep hitting near the top of the lineup while he’s riding this incredible hot streak (20-for-37 and 11 RBI in his last nine games alone). Kennedy batted leadoff today and stole two bases with Orlando Cabrera getting a rest. But I’ll speculate that we’ll see Cabrera back in leadoff tomorrow, with Kennedy batting second and Kurt Suzuki dropping down to sixth or seventh. Suzuki has gone cold at the plate in recent games (5-for-34 in his past eight games).

Any thoughts on how you’d use Kennedy in the order right now?

Check in w/you tomorrow …


Bobby Crosby back at shortstop — for a day

Orlando Cabrera is getting his long-awaited first day off of the season, which means Bobby Crosby draws a start at shortstop this afternoon against Seattle. It’s familiar territory for Crosby, of course, being he was the A’s starting shortstop (when healthy) from 2004-08. Although it’s his first start there this season, Crosby did play three innings at short last Monday against Tampa Bay in relief of Cabrera. Cabrera, who played 161 games for the White Sox last season, has said that the occasional break is crucial for him.

Adam Kennedy slides into the leadoff spot for a day. According to baseball-reference.com, Kennedy has started 28 games in the leadoff spot over his career. His approach is pretty basic. “Get on base, however you’re best at getting on base,” Kennedy said this morning. “I don’t think there’s any one way to get on base as a leadoff guy.”

No Nomar Garciaparra in the lineup for a second straight day. He didn’t offer much on the condition of his right calf. “It’s still attached,” he said. Geren is hopeful he’ll be ready to play tomorrow night.

Another injury update: Justin Duchscherer had his throwing session cut short yesterday in Phoenix because his back started bothering him. “His throwing program was set back a couple of days with a little stiff back,” Geren said, adding that Duchscherer’s elbow is feeling good. He’s rehabbing from arthroscopic surgery on his elbow March 31. Duchscherer has said he’s targeting a return sometime in June. Neither Geren nor pitching coach Curt Young thought the back issue will delay him long.

Your A’s lineup for a Memorial Day matinee:
Kennedy 2B; Suzuki C; Cust DH; Holliday LF; Giambi 1B; Ryan Sweeney CF; Buck RF; Crosby SS; Hannahan 3B; Anderson P.

Mariners lineup: Ichiro RF; Betancourt SS; Beltre 3B; Griffey Jr. DH; Mike Sweeney 1B; Lopez 2B; Johjima C; Chavez LF; Gutierrez CF; Jakubauskas P.


Sweep time in Omaha

Great weekend for Triple-A Sacramento. The River Cats went into Omaha — Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals — and outscored the Royals 21-9 in winning three games and pushing their Pacific Coast League-best mark to 26-17. Among the highlights:

— Catcher Eric Munson, the classic definition of a 4-A player, hit a grand slam to highlight a six-run eighth in a 12-4 win Sunday, Sacramento’s 11th win in 13 games.

— Dana Eveland finally looked like a pitcher in a 5-2, 12-inning win on Saturday. Nothing to get too excited about as far as I’m concerned. Blind squirrels find acorns now and then.

— Daric Barton, whose days as a hot prospect are over, had an RBI double in the 12th on Saturday. He is 10-for-40 in his past 10 days, and to give you an idea of how far Barton has fallen, that qualifies as a hot streak.

— Vinny Mazzaro was awesome on Friday. Eight innings, one run. Mazzaro has allowed only one earned run over 21 2/3 innings in his past three starts.


— Travis Banwart moved to 5-1 with five solid innings before a rain delay wiped out his day in an 11-5 victory over Corpus Christi. Here are Banwart’s game-by-game totals.

— Arnold Leon is back on the disabled list. He has had all sorts of ailments since having his contract purchased out of the Mexican League last season.


Pregame report for Sunday

Not a whole lot of news to report before today’s game, typical stuff for a day game after a night game. …

After two straight starts at first base, Nomar Garciaparra’s calf was bothering him a bit this morning according to Bob Geren, so he’s out of the lineup. Geren had said he planned to start Garciaparra at DH, but last night’s extra-inning game left him “fatigued,” in Geren’s words. “It’s just better not to play him today.” It’s possible Garciaparrra could pinch-hit if needed.

Kurt Suzuki gets a day off w/Landon Powell catching. That means Adam Kennedy gets his second turn in the No. 2 spot in the order. How impressive has Kennedy been so far? He’s contributing in every facet of the game, and just seeing him in the clubhouse, I get the feeling that losses eat at this guy like crazy. I can’t imagine he’s a very happy camper right now.

I hit Geren w/a question that managers often get after a loss like last night’s: Are losses like that, when you give up a sizable lead, tougher to bounce back from? Or do all losses seem the same when you come back to the park the next day?

“I think we have too many veteran players to let one win or loss (linger) that much,” Geren said. “Their work ethic has been very steady every day. Their attitude has been very steady every day.”

Myself, I wonder much carry-over affect some of these defeats do have. It’s one thing for a team to get beat on a day it comes out flat. It’s another for a team to come out playing well early in a game, get some confidence rolling throughout the dugout, and then let it slip away in the late innings. And those losses are starting to collect for the A’s …

Today’s lineup:

A’s — Cabrera SS; Kennedy 2B; Cust DH; Holliday LF; Giambi 1B; Sweeney CF; Buck RF; Crosby 3B; Powell C; Outman P.

D’backs — Roberts 3B; Parra RF; Upton DH; Drew SS; Reynolds 1B; Snyder C; Byrnes LF; Ojeda 2B; Young CF; Garland P.