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Suzuki back hitting second

I’ve been to Dodger Stadium one time previously, during a family trip to Disneyland many years ago. But I forgot a lot of the characteristics. The media entrance takes you on to the 5th deck behind home plate. I thought my ears were gonna pop. … The A’s haven’t been here in quite some time either — the 2000 season to be exact.The forecast called for possible rain, but it’s warm. Perfect night for ball …

–More shuffling in the A’s batting order … Adam Kennedy is hitting leadoff like Sunday, but Kurt Suzuki has been moved back up to the No. 2 spot and Jack Cust is back hitting third. Orlando Cabrera is sixth. Bob Geren said he didn’t put Cust back in the ’2′ hole because he didn’t want left-handed hitters batting back-to-back atop the order against Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw. Against righties, Geren said he might try Kennedy-Cust in the first two spots again. “I’m going to keep Cabrera down in the lineup,” Geren said, noting Suzuki’s .323 on-base percentage compared to Cabrera’s .280.

–Geren said he’s inclined to install Ryan Sweeney back as his regular center fielder once he’s activated from the DL. He’s eligible Thursday. It was worth asking the question since Rajai Davis has made some impact while filling in for him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the right-handed hitting Davis continue to play some against lefties, since Sweeney has been much more effective against right-handed pitchers.

Sweeney said he was feeling good before batting practice, and he was scheduled for full pre-game baseball activity, including tracking down balls hit to his left and right. He thinks that’s the big test for his left knee. He’s optimistic about possibly being ready Thursday.

Tonight’s lineups:

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

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

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Looking ahead

Quick question: Is it me or does it seem like we’ve been reading or hearing about the A’s offensive struggles for oh, about a dozen years? OK, so it hasn’t been that long. But the team’s three losses to the Giants over the weekend was all too similar to all too many series for all too long. The A’s talled all of 16 hits, hit .172 and scored three runs.

Not sure how you feel, but to these eyes, it’s gotten old. So thought I’d spend Tuesday morning looking at some of the hitters who might be coming down the road for the A’s.

Continue Reading

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Where Have All The Good Times Gone?

I’d imagine the above blog heading sums up the state of mind of many A’s fans right now. It also happens to be the title of one of my favorite Van Halen songs, so I had to go w/it. Since winning seven games in a row, the A’s have lost five of six.

After today’s game, they gave lots of credit to the Giants’ starting pitchers — Tim Lincecum, Randy Johnson and Matt Cain — for setting the tempo in S.F.’s three-game sweep. “We’ve had some success over the years coming (to AT&T Park), but we ran into three good guys,” right fielder Jack Cust said. “When I saw we drew those guys a few weeks ago, it’s not something you’re licking your chops about.”

Manager Bob Geren also gave praise to the Giants staff. “Are our guys struggling, or are those well-pitched games (by the Giants)?” he asked rhetorically.

Sometimes you do have to tip your cap, and I know it’s standard to do such a thing. I think the A’s get too sucked into that trap sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with someone coming out and saying, “You know what, we need to be a lot better.” Nobody can debate that the A’s aren’t swinging the bats real well, no matter who’s on the mound.

It will be interesting to see if Geren sticks w/the re-tooled batting order he tried today. Cust, batting second, homered and doubled in his first two at-bats. Geren said he thought Cust might see more hittable pitches in the No. 2 spot.

The A’s need Jason Giambi to heat up no matter where he’s batting. He’s 2-for-20 over his past eight games and went 0-for-4 today, striking out twice on three pitches.

What did you think of today’s batting order? Would you like to see it again? Any more tinkering you’d want?

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More on Chavez

The A’s are still holding out hope that Eric Chavez will be able to return healthy next season. A’s assistant GM David Forst says that Dr. Robert Watkins, who will perform Chavez’s June 23 back surgery, believes Chavez can rehab and be ready for spring training in February. But Forst added that the picture will be clearer after surgery. I’d certainly expect the A’s to pursue a full-time alternative at third base during the offseason, and the front office has hinted that will be the case. But Chavez has a year left on his contract (at $12 million), and he’s been determined to give the A’s some production in return for that.

Watkins also performed Chavez’s microdiscectomy in October 2007. It’s worth noting that this is not the complicated spinal fusion surgery that has been mentioned as an option for Chavez, which would definitely end his career. But Chavez told me recently that any type of surgery, even microdiscectomy, would probably leave his back too unstable to play. Tough to predict what this means for his future … Former A’s outfielder Mark Kotsay is one player who has had two microdiscectomy surgeries and returned to the field …

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Buck activated, sent down to minors

There’s more pregame news to report as I watch the A’s and Giants wives/girlfriends play a softball game on the field here at AT&T Park. The shortstop for the A’s team has hit an inside-the-park homer and turned a few nice plays at shortstop. She was introduced as “Mia Garciaparra,” but you would know her better as two-time Gold Medal-winning soccer player Mia Hamm. She and Nomar Garciaparra have been married since 2003. I’d call that a ringer for the A’s squad, wouldn’t you??

Outfielder Travis Buck was activated from the disabled list and then immediately optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. Part of that is because the A’s are playing interleague games without a DH on the current road trip, and Jack Cust will be seeing most of the time in right field. Buck went 5-for-14 with a homer in five rehab games with Triple-A Sacramento. I’m a little surprised the A’s wouldn’t bring him back up. Chris Denorfia is on the big league roster right now, and perhaps the A’s like Denorfia better as a late-inning situational type guy (pinch-running, defense, etc.)

You’ll notice today’s lineup also is radically different, with Orlando Cabrera dropped down from leadoff to seventh, Adam Kennedy now batting leadoff and Jack Cust moving into the No. 2 spot. “(Cabrera) had a great season last year in the leadoff spot, but right now he just doesn’t have the average where he wants it,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “Getting him down in the lineup might get him in some run-producing situations and (improve his) contact.”

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

Giants
Torres CF
Renteria SS
Winn LF
Molina C
Sandoval 1B
Aurilia 3B
Schierholtz RF
Burriss 2B
Cain P

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Chavez’s season over — more surgery

Things don’t get any easier for A’s third baseman Eric Chavez. Bob Geren just told today’s media gathering that Chavez will undergo a second microdiscectomy surgery on his back, which definitely ends his season.

Geren is hopeful that Chavez could come back and be healthy for 2010, but given Chavez’s history, you have to wonder what the chances are of him making it all the way back. In talking to him a couple weeks ago, he was adamant he didn’t wanted to have another operation as long as he was still playing. Something obviously changed his thinking on that front, but Geren didn’t know if there was anything specific Chavez did to injure his back more, saying only that Chavez had another “setback.”

Geren said Chavez will have the procedure June 23 in Southern California with Dr. Robert Watkins. This will be Chavez’s fifth surgery since September 2007.

Might be more to update later …

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A’s minor league recap: Weeks hits grand slam as Ports end losing streak

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

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

RiverCats 3, Tacoma (Mariners) 2: Story l Boxscore

Dana Eveland is now 4-0 for the RiverCats as the lefty went six innings and allowed just one earned run. Eveland gave up three hits, three walks and struck out five.

Ryan Webb (fourth round, ‘04) got his first save.

Gregorio Petit had a two-run home run, his third homer of the season.

Travis Buck went 1-for-3 and is hitting .364 through four games while on rehab assignment.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

Corpus Christi 4 (Astros), RockHounds 3: Story l Boxscore

First baseman Chris Carter blasted his ninth homer of the season and second baseman
Alex Valdez also homered, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a RockHounds loss.

Jared Lansford gave up two runs in the eighth and was tagged with the loss. Corpus Christi catcher Jason Castro, the ex-Castro Valley High and Stanford star, scored the game-winning run.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Ports 5, Visalia (Diamondbacks) 4: Story l Boxscore

Jemile Weeks hit his first professional grand slam and Tyson Ross picked up his first pro win as the Ports ended their eight-game losing streak.

Weeks, whose grand slam highlighted a five-run third inning, now has four homers and 14 RBI in 14 games. He has a .464 on-base percentage and his OPS sits at 1.067.

Ross, who lasted five innings and allowed three runs, wound up tying his career-high with seven strikeouts.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Cougars 2, Wisconsin (Brewers) 1: Story l Boxscore

Pedro Figueroa continued his solid pitching as he improved to 6-2 by throwing six strong innings. He allowed just one unearned run and has permitted just two earned runs in his last 24 innings, covering four starts.

Closer Mickey Storey notched his seventh save and lowered his ERA to 0.63. The 23-year-old righty has allowed just five hits in 14 1/3 innings and has 19 strikeouts.

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Postgame update: Suzuki hopeful for Saturday

I had a quick conversation w/Kurt Suzuki after the game. He said his knee was too sore to play Friday but that he hoped to be in the lineup Saturday night. The ball he fouled off Thursday struck him on the inside of the left knee. “It’s better,” Suzuki said. “I needed a day or so. I’ve taken a lot of balls off my knee and leg, but this one hit me in the wrong part of the knee.”

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Nomar activated from the DL

Just before first pitch tonight, the A’s announced that infielder Nomar Garciaparra was activated from the disabled list. Outfielder Aaron Cunningham was optioned to Triple-A to make room for him. Obviously the results from Garciaparra’s recent MRI must have been encouraging, though reporters weren’t given much information on the topic.

Garciaparra isn’t starting, and I’m not sure when we’ll see him get his first start. But he’s definitely a pinch-hitting option tonight, and could play defensively if he’s part of a double switch …

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A’s-Giants pregame update

Lots of nostalgia tonight at AT&T Park, as a large number of players from the Giants’ 1989 pennant-winning team is here this weekend to be honored. There was a reception just outside the park before batting practice. It’s being shown on the Jumbotron right now. Obviously, everybody looks a little older, a little heavier. But I’ve recognized pretty much everybody they’ve introduced. Rick Reuschel actually looks like he’s shed a few pounds. Let’s call him Slimmer Daddy …

A large-scale pregame ceremony will be held before tomorrow night’s game. …

As for A’s news, Kurt Suzuki is not behind the plate tonight. His left knee is bothering him after he fouled a ball off it during yesterday’s pinch-hit at-bat. There was uncertainty in the press box yesterday over where the ball struck Suzuki. At any rate, that was some day off for him, wasn’t it? … He stepped to the plate in the ninth inning, fouled a ball off his knee, then got hit by a pitch in the thigh and went to first base. It’s probably a good thing the game didn’t go into extra innings. He might not have been able to play defense … Landon Powell gets his second straight start at catcher. Bob Geren said Suzuki would be his first option as a backup. Daric Barton (who began his pro career as a catcher in St. Louis’ organization) and Jack Hannahan would be next in line. …

Geren had lots of good things to say about Brad Ziegler after yesterday’s two shutout innings. He said before today’s game that he considers Ziegler an option in the ninth inning, which probably wasn’t the case a week or two ago, though Geren never said it in so many words. That doesn’t mean Geren would shy away from using Andrew Bailey. Or Craig Breslow. He mentioned the lefty’s a possibility in a save situation …

Ryan Sweeney said he’s scheduled to try running again tomorrow. It didn’t go so well when he ran Wednesday. He’s eligible to come off the DL on Thursday, but I’m not sure if that’s in the cards or not …

Tonight’s lineups:

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

Giants
Rowand CF
Renteria SS
Winn LF
Molina C
Sandoval 1B
Uribe 3B
Schierholtz RF
Burriss 2B
Lincecum P