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A title for Kane County

Nice to see that some of the seasons in the A’s organization aren’t going as dismally as the one the big team is enduring. Kane County, the team’s Single-A affiliate clinched the Midwestern League Western Division title for the first half with a 6-0 win over Wisconsin on Sunday. Shawn Haviland (5-3) earned the win with six strong innings, and Franklin Hernandez hit a grand slam.

Among the Kane County standouts in the first half:

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Sunday update from Petco

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there … We’ll see if a big holiday crowd shows up today at Petco Park. The sun is out — first day of true San Diego weather since we’ve been here.

A few updates:

–Josh Outman will get an MRI tomorrow, though Bob Geren wasn’t positive what type of MRI it would be. If it’s a contrast MRI (where an injection is involved), Outman wouldn’t be able to throw for a couple of days, ruling him out for his next start Wednesday against the Giants. I didn’t see Outman before the game to clarify …

–Something that stood out to me last night was Ryan Sweeney’s game-tying single off lefty Joe Thatcher in the sixth. Sweeney was hitting just .169 against lefties on the season, and Thatcher was brought in to face him. The count was 0-2 and Sweeney just served a little single into left field.

Sweeney really needs to show he can hit lefties a little better than he has. I think he gives the A’s a better glove in center than Rajai Davis and makes the A’s a stronger overall team when he’s in there. That also gives the A’s a valuable weapon in Davis off the bench for pinch-running purposes. Geren has started the right-handed Davis against lefty starters since Sweeney came off the DL. It will be interesting to see if Sweeney gets the call tomorrow night against Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez. Geren moved him up into the fifth spot in the order today against San Diego right-hander Kevin Correia.

I’d like to hear thoughts on how some of you evaluate the center field situation …

–You may have noticed that Jack Cust’s past couple of homers have gone to the opposite field, always a good sign for Cust. He’s only hitting .233, but his 13 homers lead the team and his 37 RBI trail Matt Holliday by two for the team lead. Geren talked this morning about how Cust isn’t the prototypical No. 2 hitter. “It’s a little different from the norm that a ’2′ guy should (mainly) move guys over,” Geren said. “My philosophy is I just like to get the most productive hitters the most at-bats.”

Today’s lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 2B
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Sweeney CF
O. Cabrera SS
Powell C
Hannahan 3B
Braden P

Padres
Gwynn Jr. CF
Eckstein 2B
A. Gonzalez 1B
Kouzmanoff 3B
Blanks LF
E. Gonzalez RF
Blanco C
Correia P
E. Cabrera SS

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High praise for Adrian Gonzalez

With last night’s game going so long, I was on a pretty tight deadline and didn’t get a chance to address the A’s handling of Adrian Gonzalez all that much. Bob Geren talked about Gonzalez in his pregame media chat today. The A’s walked him four times — twice intentionally. One time came w/runners on the corners and one out in the sixth, with the game tied. That loaded the bases for Kevin Kouzmanoff, who singled in two runs. Geren said he had no regrets walking Gonzalez in that situation. The first baseman is tied for the major league lead with 23 homers and leads the majors with 57 walks. I didn’t have any problem with the call, either. One San Diego writer pointed out last night that Padres hitters, in general, have been pretty bad this season in the at-bat after Gonzalez draws a walk.

“On this team, it’s compared to the way Barry (Bonds) was treated in San Francisco,” Geren said, showing plenty of respect for Gonzalez. “There’s a lot of situations where you have to pitch to him. Other times you have to be careful.”

As for A’s news, Josh Outman said he was pleasantly surprised with how his left elbow felt this morning after he departed last night’s game in the second inning. He’s getting checked by a local orthopedist at the stadium tonight. Still no word on whether he’ll make his next start Wednesday against the Giants. …

With Edgar Gonzalez unavailable after last night’s extended outing, Geren said Santiago Casilla would be his long man tonight if needed. He’s hoping he won’t have to call on one. The A’s would love to get a lengthy outing from starter Brett Anderson, who hasn’t been sharp in each of his past two starts.

Tonight’s lineups, featuring the return of Ryan Sweeney in center field for Oakland. San Diego’s pitcher bats eighth once again:

A’s
Kennedy 2B
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Suzuki C
O. Cabrera SS
Sweeney CF
Hannahan 3B
Anderson P

Padres
Gwynn CF
Eckstein 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Headley 3B
Blanks LF
Alfonzo C
Venable RF
Silva P
E. Cabrera SS

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Outman postgame …

Talked to Josh Outman after the game. Basically, he says he has a strain of his inner elbow, and it’s been bothering him since the Minnesota game two starts ago. He’s hopeful of taking his next turn, but may skip a start as a precaution …

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Josh Outman update

Just a quick update on left-hander Josh Outman. He left the game in the bottom of the second with what was announced as tightness in his left arm. We’ll know more after the game. …

A’s and Padres tied 3-3 in the top of the sixth …

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Greetings from San Diego

Now I know why so many hitters complain about Petco Park: 400 feet to right center, 401 to left-center. Wow …

Rajai Davis gets the nod again in center field for the A’s over Ryan Sweeney, not a surprise w/lefty Wade LeBlanc pitching for San Diego. Bob Geren said tomorrow night would likely be Sweeney’s first start since coming off the disabled list. Other than that, the lineup looks fairly standard, which is more than you can say for the Padres. Manager Bud Black is batting LeBlanc in the No. 8 spot, with shortstop Everth Cabrera ninth. It’s the first time in Padres history a pitcher has batted anywhere other than the No. 9 spot. Black told the San Diego media that he likes Cabrera’s speed and ability to turn the lineup over and get something going. Tony LaRussa has batted his pitchers eighth on occasion in the recent past, so this isn’t unheard of. But bizarre nonetheless …

As for the A’s, they’re looking for any ideas to generate a little more offense. They’ve averaged just three runs per game over the last 11 contests, and are 8-16 against left-handed starters, worst in the American League. We’ll see if they can turn the tide against LeBlanc.

The lineups:
A’s
Kennedy 2B
Suzuki C
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
O. Cabrera SS
Crosby 3B
Davis CF
Outman P

Padres
Gwynn CF
Eckstein 2B
A. Gonzalez 1B
Kouzmanoff 3B
Headley LF
E. Gonzalez RF
Alfonzo C
LeBlanc P
E. Cabrera SS

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Rajai gets nod tonight in center

The Internet access is a little spotty in the press box right now, so I’m pounding out my first blog via blackberry. And for some apparent reason, I thought you would find that interesting. …

Anyway, Ryan Sweeney is active but not in tonight’s lineup with lefty Randy Wolf throwing for LA. The Padres have lefty Wade LeBlanc going tomorrow, and Geren said he hadn’t decided yet if Sweeney would start tomorrow or Rajai Da
vis.

Geren said Nomar Garciaparra is probably still a week or two away from being able to start in the field. Once the A’s return to playing in American League parks, Geren could DH Garciaparra and keep playing Jack Cust in right field. He said he didn’t know how he would handle the DH spot yet.

Ill leave you with the lineups now, as my fingers are getting exhausted from blackberry blogging.

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

Dodgers
Pierre LF
Furcal SS
Hudson 2B
Blake 3B
Ethier RF
Kemp CF
Loney 1B
Martin C
Wolf P

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A’s sign pitcher Shawn Chacon; Ryan Sweeney activated

The A’s added a veteran arm to their Triple-A pitching staff, signing right-hander Shawn Chacon to a minor league deal. Assistant GM David Forst confirmed it in a text message. Chacon, 31, will pitch out of Sacramento’s rotation, but he’s also got experience as a reliever. He gives the A’s a veteran fallback option for their young major league starting staff, but I see him being more likely to help the bullpen if called upon at the big league level.

He was pitching for the independent league Newark Bears this season. He made seven starts, with opponents batting .253 against him. In 2007 with the Pirates, 60 of his 64 appearances came in relief. But he made 15 starts for Houston last season. You’ll remember he was released after getting in a physical altercation with Astros GM Ed Wade.

–As expected, the A’s have activated center fielder Ryan Sweeney from the DL and optioned outfielder Chris Denorfia to Triple-A.

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A’s pregame update — Wednesday

Slow news day on the A’s pregame front … Bob Geren said there’s a good chance Ryan Sweeney might be activated tomorrow. That’s assuming Sweeney’s left knee feels good after another workout in center field today. He looked OK retreating back to catch a couple deep flies during batting practice, for what it’s worth.

Geren was asked a couple of follow-up questions on his 10th inning argument last night that resulted in a double-play call being overturned in the A’s favor. Replays showed Jason Giambi came off first and made the tag on James Loney, but first base umpire Adrian Johnson called him safe. Geren asked the umpires to discuss it, and after a conference, home plate umpire Ted Barrett ruled Loney was out. I asked Geren if he was surprised to get a call overturned in his favor, just because it seems 99.9% of those arguments end with the manager walking back to the dugout and things remaining status quo.

“I don’t know if I was surprised,” he said. “I was happy that they all got together and asked if somebody had a better angle.”

On to tonight’s lineups, featuring Jack Cust batting second with right-hander Hiroki Kuroda on the hill for L.A. …

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

Dodgers
Pierre LF
Furcal SS
Hudson 2B
Loney 1B
Blake 3B
Ethier RF
Kemp CF
Martin C
Kuroda P