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A’s pregame update: Edgar Gonzalez will start Tuesday, Tomko goes Wednesday

All’s quiet this morning on the A’s front … Sunday mornings are odd because there’s usually no regular BP on the field. The pitchers stretch at their own separate time, and players pop in and out of the batting cage at their leisure. Mostly, players were just sitting around watching the Yankees-White Sox on TV. Probably not real different from how you spent your Sunday morning …

A little news to share w/you …

–Edgar Gonzalez is starting Tuesday unless something unexpected happens. Brett Tomko is slated for Wednesday, which bumps him ahead of Trevor Cahill in the rotation to give Cahill a little extra rest. Manager Bob Geren had mentioned yesterday that Tomko could stay on regular days’ rest in the six-man rotation to give the younger guys a longer break. The A’s will especially monitor the innings of Cahill and Brett Anderson, today’s starter, since those two will surpass their innings from 2008 by such a large margin.

–Geren acknowledged it’s real doubtful Dallas Braden returns from his foot infection in time to rejoin the rotation. A little bullpen duty is still a possibility in Geren’s mind, but like I’ve mentioned here before, I would just shut Braden down and make sure he’s good for 2010. My guess is that will happen.

–Asked if there’s a definitive plan for call-ups on Tuesday when rosters expand, Geren said talks have centered “99 percent about pitching.” That means no Travis Buck, at least not right away. There is a chance they could promote a catcher, Geren said. Eric Munson would be the lead candidate …

–Bobby Crosby is expected to be activated from the DL on Wednesday without going on a rehab assignment. My guess is his playing time would likely come at third or second base, whenever Adam Kennedy or Mark Ellis might need a rest. You figure the A’s will keep running Daric Barton and Cliff Pennington out to first base and shortstop, respectively, to evaluate them as much as possible …

Today’s lineups, featuring Ryan Sweeney batting third. Kurt Suzuki and Scott Hairston both have the day off, and Geren likes the way Sweeney is swinging, so he gets bumped to the middle of the order …

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Cust DH
Powell C
Ellis 2B
Barton 1B
Pennington SS
Patterson LF

Anderson LHP

Angels
Figgins 3B
Aybar SS
Hunter CF
Vlad DH
Rivera LF
Morales 1B
Kendrick 2B
Matthews Jr. RF
Mathis C

Lackey RHP

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Bobby Crosby getting closer; other Saturday tidbits

It’s another warm evening here in Anaheim, where I’m guessing we’ll have an emotional pregame ceremony for Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, Henry Pearson and Courtney Stewart, who were all killed in an April 9 car accident, which happened the last time the A’s played a series at Angel Stadium …

–Bobby Crosby ran the bases today for the first time to test his strained left calf. If all went well, he looks on target to return from the DL on WEdnesday when he’s eligible. Crosby doesn’t think he’ll need a rehab assignment in the minors to get back in game shape. The A’s could use the infield depth he provides, as they’ve been playing with a short-handed bench.

–Geren won’t say for certain that Edgar Gonzalez will start Tuesday, but Gonzalez is definitely the lead candidate if he’s not needed in relief before then. With Gonzalez’s addition, the A’s will start the six-man rotation they’ve talked about to give their younger starters some extra rest. Geren said the rotation could be tinkered with on occasion, with veteran Brett Tomko pitching on regular four days’ rest occasionally to give some of the rookies even more rest.

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Hairston LF
Sweeney RF
Ellis 2B
Barton 1B
Pennington SS

Mazzaro RHP

Angels
Figgins 3B
Abreu RF
Hunter CF
Guerrero DH
Morales 1B
Izturis SS
Napoli C
Matthews Jr. LF
Kendrick 2B

Weaver RHP

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First base is Daric Barton’s — for now

Didn’t the A’s roster activity seem unusually quiet in recent days? That ended today, as first baseman Tommy Everidge was optioned to Triple-A and outfielder/second baseman Eric Patterson was recalled.

It’s a bit of a surprise considering indications were that Everidge and Daric Barton would split time as the A’s evaluated both first base prospects. But Bob Geren pointed out that Patterson provides a versatile option off the bench, especially w/left fielder Scott Hairston nursing a sore quad and center fielder Rajai Davis playing with a fractured thumb.

The big-picture impact is that the A’s want Barton to get the majority of at-bats at first. Asked if Barton is the primary guy at first base for the rest of the season, Geren responded, “Yeah.” He left the door open to Everidge returning when rosters expand, but it’s clear the A’s want to give Barton a hard look. … I wouldn’t read too much into this as far as the A’s plans for next season, because you figure Chris Carter, Sean Doolittle and possibly Brett Wallace will all be in the first base mix in spring training. But Barton gets his chance to leave a strong imprint heading into the offseason, much like Cliff Pennington at shortstop.

Patterson split his latest stint in Sacramento between center field, left field and second base. I see center being his best chance for playing time up here, as Davis could probably use a little rest for his thumb.

–Other newsie bits: Bobby Crosby said his calf feels good after running sprints yesterday. He’s taking today off from running but looks like he could be ready Wednesday, when he’s eligible to come off the DL. … Geren reiterated that Edgar Gonzalez is his preference to start Tuesday at Kansas City, which would set into motion a six-man rotation.

–I’ve mentioned this before about Brett Tomko, who starts tonight: It’s unusual to see a starter, on the day he’s pitching, hang out on the field w/the rest of the team when it comes out to stretch. Starting pitchers typically hole up in the clubhouse until they’re ready to start their pregame throwing. But Tomko seems to enjoy being w/the team. I’ll have to ask him about it …

The lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Hairston LF
Sweeney RF
Ellis 2B
Barton 1B
Pennington SS

Tomko RHP

Angels
Figgins 3B
Abreu RF
Hunter CF
Guerrero DH
Rivera LF
Morales 1B
Aybar SS
Kendrick 2B
Mathis C

Bell RHP

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Postgame Andrew Bailey update

Just a quick update on A’s closer Andrew Bailey following the A’s 2-0 win over the Angels. Bailey was visited by manager Bob Geren and assistant trainer Walt Horn after tweaking his left knee while fielding Torii Hunter’s bunt in the ninth inning. The knee has bothered Bailey for much of the season, but he stayed in the game and wasn’t overly concerned about it afterward.

“As soon as I went down (to the field the bunt) it gave out a little,” Bailey said. “It’s just something I’ve got to battle through.”

A win over Ervin Santana isn’t always something you expect from the A’s. They’ll try to make it two in a row tomorrow night as Brett Tomko faces Trevor Bell …

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Adenhart’s memory lives on

The A’s pregame routine has been pushed back here in Anaheim, with first pitch not until 7:25. The Angels are inducting outfielder Brian Downing and pitcher Chuck Finley into their Hall of Fame before the game.

It was something to walk up to the entrance at Angel Stadium today and see the memorial that still sits out front for Nick Adenhart. It was first started April 9, just hours after the Angels pitcher died in a car crash. Basically, there’s a big circle with flowers and Adenhart T-shirts in the middle of it. Ringing the memorial are hundreds of hats that people left, most of them with hand-written messages about Adenhart. All three victims who died in that crash will be honored before Saturday’s game. Jon Wilhite, the lone crash survivor and a good friend of Kurt Suzuki’s, is supposed to throw out the first pitch.

–As for A’s news, Bob Geren said we can expect some pitchers called up Sept. 1 when rosters expand, but probably not any position players that day (he didn’t say how many pitchers).

Geren added that Edgar Gonzalez is a strong candidate to start Sept. 1, which would signal the start of a six-man rotation. But that depends on if (and in what capacity) Gonzalez is needed before then. He hasn’t appeared in a game since Aug. 15, and Geren wants to get him at least a brief outing before Sept. 1. … I could see why …

–Bobby Crosby ran some sprints today to test his strained left calf. He has yet to run the bases, but the A’s say he’s very close to being ready. He’s eligible to come off the DL on Sept. 2.

–Niko Gallego, the 20-year-old son of A’s infield coach Mike Gallego, took grounders at shortstop during batting practice and looked pretty smooth (I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree). Niko will be a junior at UCLA next season and just got done playing in the wood-bat Cape Cod League.

Here’s tonight’s lineups for Game 1 of a four-game series w/the AL West-leading Angels:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Hairston LF
Sweeney RF
Ellis 2B
Barton 1B
Pennington SS

Cahill RHP

Angels
Figgins 3B
Abreu RF
Hunter CF
Guerrero DH
Rivera LF
Morales 1B
Izturis 2B
Aybar SS
Mathis C

Santana RHP

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Eric Chavez addresses the media

Eric Chavez popped onto the field today during batting practice at Safeco Field and chatted w/reporters for a few minutes. He looked good and was in good spirits. His wife, Alex, gave birth to their third child — a boy, Cruz — three weeks ago. So no wonder he’s in a good mood. He’s about two months removed from microdiscectomy surgery on his back, and he began rehab about three weeks ago. Among the highlights from his media chat:

–Chavez has every intention of trying to return to third base, but acknowledged that if it turns out he can only DH, maybe that could extend his career a couple of years. Asked about the possibility of playing first base: “Either way (playing third or first), I’d still be bending over fielding ground balls.”

–He joked that he felt old knowing recently acquired third baseman Brett Wallace considers Chavez his favorite player. He also was very pleased to know Wallace has been hitting well, and said he would offer any defensive tips he could to Wallace.

–Chavez said recovery from this microdiscectomy procedure, his second, was more painful the first few weeks out of surgery than the first one. After his first back surgery — in October 2007 — Chavez said he came into the next season w/too many expectations. This time around, “I’ll try to take advantage of the eight-month recovery” period, which would take him right up to spring training.

–His surgically repaired right shoulder still aches every now and then, and he continues doing rehab for that. But the back is still his main physical concern.

–Asked for his thoughts on how the A’s are playing, Chavez said: “It’s fun to watch. … At least now we’re stealing bases and trying to make things happen.”

There’ll be more to read on Chavez in tomorrow’s notebook …

As for other A’s news:

–Bob Geren said Dallas Braden saw a neurologist, and it was found that a nerve in his left foot is “traumatized.” Rest is the only remedy for it, and there’s no timetable for him to get on a mound. It seems even more likely to me now that Braden may have pitched his last game of 2009, although Geren hopes to get him back, even if it’s only for an appearance or two. He didn’t rule out Braden pitching in relief, if that’s what it took to get him some work. That seems odd to me. I’d think that if it got to that late in the season before Braden was ready, it’d make sense to just shut him down for the winter and make sure he’s fully healed for next season.

–Geren said that, no matter what, he plans to incorporate a six-man rotation after rosters expand. Edgar Gonzalez is a possibility to join the rotation as the sixth guy, but that would probably only happen after some relievers are called up to fortify the bullpen.

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Suzuki C
Hairston LF
Cust DH
Ellis 2B
Sweeney RF
Everidge 1B
Pennington SS

Gonzalez LHP

Mariners
Gutierrez CF
Hannahan 3B
Lopez 2B
Sweeney DH
Hall RF
Branyan 1B
Johnson C
Wilson SS
Saunders LF

French LHP

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Chris Carter promoted to Triple-A

Just saw this report that first baseman Chris Carter — the A’s top power-hitting prospect — was promoted from Double-A Midland to Triple-A Sacramento. I think a lot of people were expecting this to happen any time now. Check out Carter’s stats at Midland — crazy. The A’s are especially pleased with his .337 batting average, a quantum leap from last year’s .259 mark at Single-A Stockton.

The indication I’ve gotten is that the A’s are leaning against promoting him to the majors in September. He’d have to be added to the 40-man roster, and those spots are precious. Also, he could get good experience playing in the Triple-A playoffs this season, and the A’s value that for their prospects. …

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Rajai returns to center field for A’s

Another pretty pleasant night at Safeco Field leading up to Game 2 of this series …

The A’s are likely to have a special guest in the dugout for the second straight night — third baseman Eric Chavez, who’s on the mend from June 23 back surgery that he hopes will have him ready for the start of the 2010 season. Chavez’s wife, Alex, is from the Seattle area. He wasn’t in the clubhouse during the media access period earlier this afternoon, and though he was in the dugout for last night’s game, he wasn’t around the clubhouse afterward. I haven’t talked to him personally, but manager Bob Geren said Chavez looked good, was in good spirits and is eyeing a return to baseball activity in January, if not sooner. Next season will be the last of his six-year, $66 million deal.

No news was good news for the A’s on the Rajai Davis front. He’s back in center field tonight and hitting second, so apparently he’ll be able to play despite a fracture in the tip of his right thumb. Davis was able to swing the bat yesterday — the issue was throwing. But his thumb passed the throwing test this afternoon. “I was able to throw effectively and pretty accurate, compared to yesterday,” Davis said. He’s never hurt his thumb before, but in Triple-A he did have an injury to his right middle finger that kept him out a couple of weeks. I’d expect him to get an occasional day off to make sure he completely heals.

The upshot of it all: No transaction made by the A’s, and no extra position player brought up. So Geren still has just three non-pitchers on his bench.

Dallas Braden isn’t with the team in Seattle as he stayed back in Stockton to get physical therapy on his infected left ankle. But Geren said there’s a chance he might join the team in Anaheim for the upcoming four-game series there.

Without further delay, your lineups. With lefty Brett Anderson pitching, Ken Griffey Jr. is not in Seattle’s lineup tonight, but Mike Sweeney is …

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Suzuki C
Hairston LF
Cust DH
Nomar 1B
Ellis 2B
Sweeney RF
Pennington SS

Anderson LHP

M’s

Gutierrez CF
Hannahan 3B
Lopez 2B
Sweeney DH
Hall RF
Branyan 1B
Johjima C
Wilson SS
Saunders LF

Rowland-Smith LHP

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A’s, Mariners know each other well

A little late with tonight’s post, my apologies on that …

–Landon Powell gets a second straight start tonight for the A’s. He’s at DH after jacking a three-run homer yesterday. Jack Cust is in right field and Rajai Davis gets a night off to rest a sore right thumb.

It’s too bad for Powell he isn’t getting more playing time. He’s really produced when he’s been in there. But other than at catcher or DH, it’s tough finding at-bats for him.

–There was lots of get-reacquainted time on the field during batting practice, as so many former A’s players and coaches are with Seattle. Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu and bench coach Ty Van Burkleo chatted w/Bob Geren. M’s first baseman/DH Mike Sweeney was catching up w/Mark Ellis … And the newest ex-Athletic/current Mariner, Jack Hannahan, is in the lineup at third base against his former team …

The full lineups

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Ellis 2B
Hairston LF
Cust RF
Suzuki C
Sweeney CF
Powell DH
Barton 1B
Pennington SS

Mazzaro RHP

Mariners
Gutierrez CF
Branyan 1B
Lopez 2B
Griffey Jr. DH
Hall RF
Johjima C
Hannahan 3B
Wilson SS
Saunders LF

Snell RHP

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What’s the future hold for A’s offense?

The weather here at the Coliseum was unusually warm last night. Different story tonight, as the wind is already kicking up. It’ll definitely be more chilly. And speaking of chilly, the A’s have certainly cooled off at the plate. What happened to that offensive revival? They’ve scored just 13 runs over the past six games, and haven’t topped three runs in any one of them. Adam Kennedy, who’s been such a catalyst for this team since he was acquired, is hitting just .176 (6-for-34) over his last eight games. And remember, five of those hits came in one game last week against the White Sox.

As encouraging as it’s been recently to see the A’s run wild on the bases, and see players like Rajai Davis, Mark Ellis and Kurt Suzuki take turns getting key hits, let’s not forget that this is still a pretty flawed team offensively when you look ahead to next season. As things stand, I don’t see the A’s being good enough offensively in 2010 to support the young pitchers that are obviously going to be the team’s strength. And as team owner Lew Wolff told Bay Area News Group in this story, he’s not crazy about the A’s bringing in more power hitters from the outside as they tried this year with Jason Giambi and Matt Holliday. Problem is, I don’t know if their best hitting prospects (Chris Carter, Adrian Cardenas, Brett Wallace and Co.) will be ready by next season.

My question for you, A’s fans: When it comes to improving this offense, would you rather see the A’s go out and try to obtain another slugger or two as they tried to do this season, or should they abandon the search for power and build a more speed and run-oriented offense, as they’ve shown signs of doing since the All-Star break?

–Not much pregame news today: Dallas Braden’s left ankle is showing no signs of improvement, according to manager Bob Geren, and you have to wonder if we’ll see him on the mound again this season. At this point, it might be better to shut him down and make sure he’s healthy to start spring training.

Tonight’s lineups, featuring Daric Barton playing first for the A’s for the second straight night:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Suzuki C
Hairston LF
Sweeney RF
Ellis 2B
Cust DH
Barton 1B
Pennington SS

Cahill RHP

Tigers
Granderson CF
Polanco 2B
Guillen LF
Cabrera 1B
Huff DH
Thomas RF
Inge 3B
AVila C
Santiago SS

Galarraga RHP