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Tuesday update from the Coliseum

We’ve had a string of nice nights for baseball at the Coliseum. Looks like this will be another one, although the wind is whipping right now during BP. …

Let’s get the news out of the way: Josh Outman did in fact have Tommy John surgery today on his left elbow. Aside from having the ulnar collateral ligament reconstructed, he also had a bone spur removed. No official timetable for his recovery, but it’s generally anywhere from 12-18 months. That makes three A’s pitchers this season lost to Tommy John surgery. Yikes … Joey Devine and Dan Giese are the others.

In cheerier news on the pitching front, Justin Duchscherer’s back problems have improved and he’s been cleared to resume throwing in Phoenix. He’ll be following the typical routine, playing long toss from progressively longer distances. If all goes as planned, the A’s have it mapped out for him to throw in a minor league game July 26. As you know, all plans are written in pencil … Starting or relieving, you ask? The A’s don’t have a set plan for Duchscherer at this point. “There are no plans in any way other than to get him healthy and on the mound,” Bob Geren said.

–Geren touched a little bit on the A’s running game today. Matt Holliday stole a base last night, and the A’s were planning a double steal w/runners on the corners but it backfired when Kurt Suzuki got picked off third. Geren said he wants to look for opportunities to steal when the right guy is on base and the situation seems favorable.

I’m all for this. One of the few bright spots of last year’s offense was the A’s efforts to steal more. The aggression seemed to be dialed back in the early going this season, and with the A’s adding Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi to the middle of the order, I could see why they didn’t want to run themselves out of innings. But the power hasn’t come, and with the offense struggling to score, they’ve really got nothing to lose. They have some players who can swipe a bag, and it’s time to turn them loose.

Anyone w/me on this?

Tonight’s lineups, featuring Nomar Garciaparra DH’ing for the A’s, but no Travis Buck:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Suzuki C
Sweeney CF
Garciaparra DH
Cust RF
Ellis 2B

Gonzalez LHP

Tigers
Granderson CF
Polanco 2B
Cabrera 1B
Thames DH
Raburn LF
Inge 3B
Ordonez RF
Ryan C
Everett SS

Galarraga RHP

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Buck returns to Oakland; Outman having surgery tomorrow

The A’s just announced that outfielder Travis Buck has been recalled from Triple-A Sacramento and third baseman Jack Hannahan will be optioned out.  We’ve been told Buck won’t arrive at the Coliseum until after the game starts. With Adam Kennedy now getting time at third and Bobby Crosby still available to play the corner spots, Hannahan’s chances were going to be limited . Buck was hitting .350 for Sacramento as of today, and he gives the A’s a better defensive option in right than Jack Cust, who can also DH (Cust is still in tonight’s lineup in right, as of my writing this). Or perhaps the A’s will give Cust a day off here or there. The guy has played a ton of innings, and it looks like he could benefit from a break. He’s hitting seventh today for the second time in three games.

More news of the day: Left-hander Josh Outman is having surgery on his elbow tomorrow, to be performed by Dr. James Andrews. But still no official word on whether it will be Tommy John (ligament replacement) surgery or something else. Details of the surgery, and Outman’s timetable for recovery, should come after the procedure. But all signs are that Outman won’t be back until sometime during the 2010 season. “He had a great season for us. He’s a fine young pitcher,” Geren said. “Obviously it’s a setback. Obviously a second (opinion) was deemed necessary to (decide on having) surgery.” As for Outman’s replacement in the rotation, Geren still isn’t committing to Gio Gonzalez beyond tomorrow’s start.

Geren continues to shuffle around his batting order looking for a combination that produces some results. Orlando Cabrera is back up in the second spot in the order after Kennedy. Switch-hitting Landon Powell gets a start at DH in order to get as many left-handed bats in against right-hander Rick Porcello as possible. …

The lineups

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Suzuki C
Sweeney CF
Cust RF
Powell DH
Ellis 2B

Anderson LHP

Tigers
Granderson CF
Polanco 2B
Cabrera 1B
Thames DH
Raburn LF
Inge 3B
Ordonez RF
Laird C
Everett SS

Porcello RHP

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Barton optioned; Outman switched to 60-day DL

It wasn’t a shock that first baseman Daric Barton was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento to make room on the A’s 25-man roster for Mark Ellis. The bigger news this morning was that the team transferred left-hander Josh Outman to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot for Ellis on the 40-man roster. That means Outman, nursing what’s been described as a sprained elbow, won’t return to the mound for the A’s until late August, at the earliest. The A’s announced the news in a release, after manager Bob Geren talked to the media. So we didn’t get a chance to ask him about it this morning.

Outman told me yesterday he’ll be examined by Dr. James Andrews on Monday morning in Alabama, but the A’s obviously feel already that it’s a severe enough injury that he needs to be shelved for a while. This presents a big opportunity for Gio Gonzalez, who could stick in the rotation for a while if he bounces back with a good start Tuesday vs. Detroit. And it’s a pretty tough break for Outman, who has pitched very well in his first season as a big league starter.

Today’s lineups, featuring Adam Kennedy at third base for Oakland:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Suzuki DH
Cabrera SS
Sweeney CF
Powell C
Ellis 2B

Mazzaro P

Rockies
Fowler CF
Barmes 2B
Helton 1B
Hawpe RF
Tulowitzki SS
Stewart 3B
Iannetta C
Gonzalez LF
Smith DH

Cook P

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Garciaparra starts at DH; Cust hitting seventh

Considering the rut the A’s find themselves in, it’s not surprising Bob Geren held a team meeting on the field before batting practice this afternoon. One message was the need to play better defense after the A’s committed five errors over the past two games. “I just wanted to make sure we separate offense and defense,” Geren said. “If you’re struggling offensively, separate the two sides.” But Geren also wants his players to just relax and have a little more fun. Perhaps that’s why we saw Jason Giambi taking some ground balls at third base (using his first baseman’s mitt, of course!)

Today’s lineup also has a different look to it. Nomar Garciaparra draws his first start since coming off the DL. He’s the DH and batting cleanup, with Jack Cust dropping down to seventh in the order. The A’s have been very cautious in easing Garciaparra back into action. I assume tonight could be a test run. If Garciaparra doesn’t respond well to a full night of activity, he could head back to the DL to open a roster spot for Mark Ellis, who will be activated tomorrow. Geren said he didn’t know when Garciaparra might be ready to play defense, but he wants his bat in the lineup, particularly against lefties. We still don’t know how Garciaparra’s calf will respond when he really has to exert himself on the bases, but Geren added: “He’s moving well. He looks great taking ground balls. It’s just a matter of volume, how much he does. If he’s on base four times tonight, he might not be able to go tomorrow.”

As for dropping Cust in the order? “The last few games he’s not seeing the ball as well as he normally does,” Geren said.

–Adam Kennedy was breaking in his new first baseman’s mitt before the game, in anticipating of seeing time at first when Ellis comes off the DL. Kennedy reiterated he’s ready to play wherever needed. As for Ellis, he said his minor league rehab stint has him ready to roll, and he’s excited to return to second base tomorrow.

And finally, your lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 2B
Suzuki C
Holliday LF
Garciaparra DH
Giambi 1B
Cabrera SS
Cust RF
Crosby 3B
Davis CF

Cahill P

Rockies
Smith LF
Barmes 2B
Helton 1B
Hawpe RF
Tulowitzki SS
Stewart 3B
Atkins DH
Gonzalez CF
Phillips C

De La Rosa P

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A few tidbits from the Coliseum on what’s shaping up to be an almost perfect night for baseball. And fireworks, I guess.

It’s reunion day here and Matt Holliday just finished catching up with some of his former teammates, as did Carlos Gonzalez, Alan Embree and Huston Street. We chatted a bit with Gonzalez before the game and he hopes he’s found a home with the Rockies (more in tomorrow’s paper).  

Wonder what kind of reception Street will get should he enter tonight’s game? Well, actually, that might be fairly predictable.   

Second baseman Mark Ellis is scheduled to end his rehab stint in Sacramento tonight and join the A’s this weekend. Manager Bob Geren said he will insert Ellis at second base on Sunday, the first day he’s eligible to be reinstated. After Thursday, Ellis was 6-for-33 at the plate in nine starts for the River Cats. Geren said Adam Kennedy will play either third or first that day. Tough to keep Kennedy out of the lineup when he’s hitting .298 with an OBP of .368, both team bests.

With an MRI in tow, lefty Josh Outman will travel to the great state of Alabama to visit Dr. James Andrews. Geren said Andrews has not seen the MRI of Outman’s left elbow, and will examine the patient either Monday night or Tuesday morning.

Geren said right-hander Justin Duchscherer will see a doctor in Arizona on Tuesday to see if he can get cleared to begin throwing again. Duchscherer has been out of action for the last week or so because of back soreness.

Geren said Brett Anderson is feeling OK and merely determined that the prized young lefty needed a couple of extra days of rest after inflammation cropped up in his left bicep. It appears Anderson will still start on Monday.

Geren said Thursday Eric Chavez is feeling OK after he had back surgery on Tuesday. They communicated via text message.

The lineups:

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

Rockies – Fowler CF, Spilborghs LF, Helton 1B, Atkins DH, Hawpe RF, Tolowitzki SS, Iannetta C, Stewart 3B, Barmes 2B, Hammel P.

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Carlos Gonzalez slams A’s; Carter, Weeks picked for Futures Game

A story in today’s Denver Post has a very interesting quote from former A’s prospect Carlos Gonzalez, now playing for the Colorado Rockies, who visit the Coliseum this weekend. Gonzalez, of course, was shipped to Colorado along with pitchers Huston Street and Greg Smith in exchange for Matt Holliday during the offseason.

“I think we have more talented players and a better team (than Oakland),” Gonzalez told the paper. “I know what it’s like to play over there. Here we expect to win every game. I think we are going to do fine against them.”

I guess you could say the kid’s not afraid to speak his mind. Gonzalez has been good with the glove, playing mainly left field, but he’s hitting just .180 in 50 at-bats.

–You might have seen Baseball America released the rosters for the Futures Game to be played July 12 in St. Louis. The A’s will be represented by first baseman Chris Carter and second baseman Jemile Weeks. Carter is having an excellent season at the plate for Double-A Midland. Weeks has been on a tear for Single-A Stockton after injuries that delayed the start of his season …

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Outman to DL for A’s

Not a huge shock today when the A’s announced that Josh Outman was placed on the DL to make room for Gio Gonzalez, who takes the hill tonight against the Giants. Outman and the team still haven’t gotten results from the contrast MRI he had today on his elbow. It’s a tough break for Outman, who has been a pleasant surprise after claiming the fifth starter’s spot at the end of spring training. His take on hitting the DL: “I expected to be put on the DL. They needed to get a starting pitcher in there. I’m not upset. I’m obviously hurt to some degree. Hopefully I hear the lesser of several evils.”

Things to watch tonight w/Gonzalez: His fastball control and overall presence on the mound. A huge crowd is expected tonight. It should be a charged atmosphere and a good test for Gonzalez. Geren said the lefty’s had so much movement on his fastball in the minors that it can be tough to control. That’s similar to what Trevor Cahill and Vin Mazzaro deal with from start to start. …

Tonight’s lineups:

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

Gonzalez

Giants
Rowand CF
Torres LF
Sandoval DH
Molina C
Renteria SS
Aurilia 1B
Uribe 3B
Schierholtz RF
Downs 2B

Johnson P

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Gio gets Wednesday’s start

A quick update following the A’s 4-1 loss to the Giants:

–Bob Geren finally confirmed that Gio Gonzalez will start tomorrow night against the Giants. Josh Outman is getting his second MRI, and he’ll miss at least one start. The A’s sound as if they’re planning for the possibility of him missing more. Asked if Gonzalez could get an extended look in the rotation, Geren offered: “A lot will depend on what we find out with Outman. We’ll see how he does. But more than likely, (Gonzalez) will get a chance to earn that spot.” Talking to Outman before the game, he sounded a lot less enthusiastic about the condition of his elbow than during the weekend. “I’m just trying to stay positive,” he said. “I try not to think about it too much until they see (the MRI).”

I’ll be curious to see Gonzalez over an extended period if Outman does miss some time. I’ve never been crazy about bringing Gonzalez up as a temporary bullpen guy (although I know the A’s haven’t always had a lot of options for calling up lefty relievers). Gonzalez has been lights-out in Triple-A this season, but he’s an excitable guy and he’s gotten a little rattled while starting in the bigs. Tomorrow night’s atmosphere should be a good gauge for how he’s come along in that aspect …

Check in w/you tomorrow …

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Memory lane

The Raider locker room was host to a pregame reception for all of the players on hand to celebrate the A’s 20th Anniversary of their 1989 World Series championship. … The big bonus for the team was that Rickey Henderson did, in fact, show up. The A’s had quietly said he would, but didn’t spend much time promoting it just in case he didn’t make it. He had a big crowd of reporters around him (no surprise) and had lots of entertaining thoughts to share as always. You’ll be reading about them in tomorrow’s CC Times. Dave Stewart, Dave Henderson, Walt Weiss, Mike Moore, Tony Phillips, Lance Blankenship, Matt Young and Ken Phelps were also on hand, as was then-GM Sandy Alderson. Carney Lansford, now the hitting coach for the Giants, dropped in real quick, as did A’s pitching coach Curt Young.

As for the current A’s news …

Josh Outman wasn’t able to get his second MRI on his elbow due to a power outage at the facility in Pleasanton where it was to take place. He’s definitely out for Wednesday’s start, but said he won’t know if he’ll be out longer until he has the MRI tomorrow. Bob Geren said he’d announce after tonight’s game who would take ball tomorrow. It’s between Edgar Gonzalez and Gio Gonzalez. “Obviously it’d be either Edgar or somebody from Triple-A, (and) Gio is scheduled to throw tomorrow,” Geren said.

The A’s were short on details on Eric Chavez’s back surgery today. According to Geren, the surgery went well, and that preliminary indications are that Chavez should be ready for the start of spring training. “He texted (head trainer Steve Sayles) and said he’s doing well,” Geren said. Take all of this w/a grain of salt. We still don’t know many details of the surgery, so it’s tough to put much stock in any timeframe right now.

Mark Ellis can come off the DL on Sunday, and he’s expected to return to second base. In light of that, Geren said Adam Kennedy will bounce around between third base, second base, first base, DH and the outfield. But he’ll be playing regularly somewhere …

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 2B
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi DH
Suzuki C
Sweeney CF
Cabrera SS
Barton 1B
Hannahan 3B

Mazzaro P

Giants
Rowand CF
Torres LF
Sandoval 3B
Molina C
Ishikawa 1B
Winn DH
Renteria SS
Schierholtz RF
Downs 2B

Lincecum P