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Ichiro gets 2,000th hit

Ichiro Suzuki didn’t waste time getting his 2,000th major league hit, ripping a double down the right-field line on the second pitch of today’s game at the Oakland Coliseum. He reached the milestone in his 1,402nd big league game, making him the second fastest in major league history to reach 2,000 (All Simmons did it in 1,390 games). But remember, Suzuki also had 1,278 hits in Japan before coming to the majors. Surprisingly, the A’s didn’t make much of an acknowledgement of Ichiro’s feat other than a brief and small mention on the video board. But he got a nice standing ovation from the crowd and removed his helmet at second base to acknowledge it. …

Landon Powell continues producing whenever he plays: He hit a rocket into the seats in right-center to tie the game, 1-1, in the bottom of the fourth. That’s where we stand …

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Sunday pregame update: Thoughts on Gio Gonzalez; Ichiro nearing milestones

Pretty ideal afternoon for baseball at the Coliseum, as the A’s try to split this four-gamer w/Seattle. …

–When we talk about the future of the A’s pitching staff, we tend to focus on Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Vin Mazzaro. But let’s remember that Gio Gonzalez’s development will also help shape the future of this staff. Gonzalez hasn’t looked as sharp in recent outings as he did during that four-start stretch that bridged July and August, when he picked up three wins. He’s still had good stuff — look at his strikeouts (24 in the last three outings). But his command has been off (17 walks over the last four outings).

So I’d say his remaining starts of 2009 will be pretty huge as far as setting him up for next season. I still like Gonzalez’s potential as a starter long-term as opposed to relieving. Some of that will depend on how he develops his change-up as a third pitch, and Bob Geren talked about how Gonzalez continues to work on that pitch. In key situations, he’ll still rely on his fastball and curve, but being able to give hitters another wrinkle to think about will make that fastball and curve even more effective …

–There’s been a larger group of Japanese media covering this A’s-Mariners series than usual, as Ichiro Suzuki is just one hit shy of 2,000 for his major league career. He’s also six hits shy of his ninth straight 200-hit season, which would set a new major league record. A few of us were talking before the game about Ichiro’s potential to rack up these kind of stats into his 40′s. I expect him to do that. You look at the way he flicks at the ball right now on a lot of his hits, and that’s something he can keep doing even as he loses some bat speed. So this string of 200-hit seasons may not stop any time soon if he stays healthy, which he’s done to this point. …

–Here’s today’s lineups

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

Gonzalez LHP

Mariners
Ichiro RF
Gutierrez CF
Lopez 1B
Sweeney DH
Beltre 3B
Hall 2B
Johjima C
Wilson SS
Saunders LF

Fister RHP

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Grant Green in the house

Grant Green, the A’s first round pick in July, is at the Coliseum tonight as he took some batting practice and fielded some grounders at shortstop as his parents and agent, Scott Boras, looked on. He’ll return to Stockton tomorrow for the Ports’ final two games, head home for a week or so, then go to Arizona for the instructional league.

The A’s gave Green a $2.75 million signing bonus on Aug. 17 in a deal that was completed less than 10 minutes before the deadline to sign draft picks. Green said it was extremely stressful and that he didn’t get much sleep in the three or four nights before the deadline, but he was still confident that things would work out.

In three games with the Ports, Green, who is just the designated hitter, is 4-for-11 with three RBI.

“First game, the ball looked like a pea when I was up there,” Green said. “I can definitely tell it’s a different game. The first pitch I see in three months is a slider.”

Outfielder Ryan Sweeney is out of the lineup with a sore left knee. A’s manager Bob Geren said it’s something that’s been building for a while, and that Sweeney should be OK to go on Sunday before the A’s take Labor Day off to travel to Chicago.

The lineups:

A’s — Kennedy 3B, Davis CF, Suzuki C, Hairston LF, Garciaparra DH, Ellis 2B, Cust RF, Barton 1B, Pennington SS, Anderson P.

Mariners — Suzuki RF, Gutierrez CF, Lopez 1B, Sweeney DH, Beltre 3B, Hall LF, Jack Wilson SS, Josh Wilson 2B, Johnson C, French P.

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A’s Mazzaro likely to miss “1 or 2″ starts

So we’ll get our second look at right-hander Clayton Mortensen tonight as he fills in for Vin Mazzaro. Obviously, Mortensen wasn’t the most heralded of the three players the A’s obtained for Matt Holliday (Brett Wallace holds that distinction). But Mortensen can help himself with a solid outing because it looks like Mazzaro, suffering from shoulder tendinitis, could miss two starts. So pitching well tonight could earn Mortensen a second start.

According to Mazzaro, his shoulder started bothering him about two starts ago. “I didn’t really recover the way I normally do,” Mazzaro said. “I felt a little soreness. … I’ll get a few days off and bounce back. I’ll probably miss one or two starts. I’ll start throwing in five or six days. I’d like to get two or three more (starts before the season ends).”

He said his shoulder feels better today, but this is all new territory for him. He’s never had any shoulder or arm problems before, so he doesn’t know how to gauge the severity of an injury based on how it feels.

A’s manager Bob Geren said Mazzaro has to get through a side session with no problems before being considered for his next outing, but he added that there’s no thought (yet) to shutting the rookie down for the season.

Mortensen gave up eight runs in four innings in his A’s debut on Aug. 8 in Kansas City, and he was sent back to the minors immediately after that. Geren said Mortensen has terrific natural movement on his pitches, and that his key is just staying around the plate and letting that movement work for him (sounds similar to Trevor Cahill).

Two faces in tonight’s lineup that you haven’t seen for a while: Bobby Crosby playing first base and Nomar Garciaparra at DH. Geren wanted to get as many righties as possible in the lineup, as Mariners left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith is very tough on lefties. With Adam Kennedy showing some recent life at the plate (three straight multi-hit games), Geren wanted to keep him out there at third. But that guy is gonna need a rest one of these days, I’d say. …

Tonight’s lineups, featuring Mike Sweeney as a late replacement for Ken Griffey Jr. as Seattle’s DH …
A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Suzuki C
Hairston LF
Nomar DH
Ellis 2B
Crosby 1B
Sweeney RF
Pennington SS

Mortensen RHP

Mariners
Ichiro RF
Gutierrez CF
Lopez 2B
Sweeney DH
Beltre 3B
Hall LF
Carp 1B
Johjima C
Wilson SS

Rowland-Smith LHP

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Let the campaign begin: Geren pushes Andrew Bailey for Rookie of the Year

It’s that time of the season when end-of-the-year award discussions start coming into focus. And if you’re bummed about where the A’s sit in the AL West standings, take heart that closer Andrew Bailey is squarely in the AL Rookie of the Year talk. He got a boost today by being named the AL Rookie of the Month for August, when he had 11 scoreless outings and was perfect in seven save opportunities.

Think Bailey will be hurt by the A’s 59-74 record? The New York Times ran this story a couple of days ago that listed him as the AL favorite. You figure Bailey’s selection to the All-Star team will boost his profile in a lot of voters’ eyes. A’s manager Bob Geren gave his endorsement in today’s pregame media chat. “Hopefully the (Rookie of the Month award) will lead on to Rookie of the Year,” Geren said. “He’s had that kind of year … I see him more than anyone, so he’s got my vote.”

Actually, Geren doesn’t have a vote. Rookie of the Year (just like MVP, Cy Young and Manager of the Year) is voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. But you get his point.

As for Bailey’s competition, Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold will get serious consideration. White Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham and Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus are in the conversation. Their advantage is each had lots of hype before they even reached the majors, so they’ve been on the radar for some time now. But it’s hard to argue with Bailey’s credentials to this point, or his importance to his team. Right now, I’d have to give him my vote. Of course, like Geren, I’ve seen Bailey much more than anyone else.

I’ll open it up to readers: Do you think Bailey is the man for Rookie of the Year?

–Scott Hairston (left quad) is out of the lineup for a second straight day, w/Eric Patterson playing left for the A’s.

– Geren has set his rotation for the upcoming eight-game road trip that begins Tuesday. The A’s are off Monday and next Thursday, so that gives him some wiggle room to re-arrange guys.

At Chicago: Brett Tomko, Trevor Cahill

At Minnesota: Vin Mazzaro, Edgar Gonzalez, Tomko

At Texas: Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Cahill

Basically, he’s set it up where Tomko will pitch on regular four days’ rest; Cahill and Mazzaro will get six days’ rest, and Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez will get eight days rest between starts.

Tonight’s lineups in the opener of a four-game set w/Seattle:

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

Tomko RHP

Mariners
Ichiro RF
Gutierrez CF
Lopez 2B
Griffey Jr. DH
Beltre 3B
Hall LF
Carp 1B
Johjima C
Wilson SS

Snell RHP

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Powell, A’s cruising against K.C.

The A’s are putting the early hurt on Kansas City, leading 10-3 after three innings. Landon Powell hit his first career grand slam in the bottom of the second, pushing a 4-0 lead to 8-0. The Royals came back with three against Trevor Cahill, who looked like he took his foot off the pedal with such a big lead. …

Powell’s impressive season really has gone under the radar because he hasn’t played much. But he’s 16-for-46 (.348) with runners on base and 11-for-28 (.393) with guys in scoring position. He also threw out David DeJesus on a first-inning steal attempt and has nailed 7 of 15 base stealers on the season.

–Minor note: The A’s claimed right-hander John Meloan, 25, off waivers from Pittsburgh and assigned him to Triple-A Sacramento. This is Meloan’s fourth organization of the season. He had a 4.57 ERA in 41 games (two starts) in Triple-A split between stints with Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.

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Crosby reinstated from DL; Patterson draws start in left field

Trevor Cahill takes the hill today as the A’s try to claim this three-game series against Kansas City. You have to like their chances based on how Cahill has pitched over his last four outings. If he is dialed in, it’ll be interesting to see how long Bob Geren sticks w/him. Out of all four of the rookies in the rotation, the A’s are most concerned with the innings Cahill and Brett Anderson are piling up. Cahill leads major league rookies with 153 1/3 IP.

No Scott Hairston in left field today after he aggravated his left quad last night. Geren thinks Hairston could return tomorrow or Friday, but Eric Patterson starts today, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Patterson in left for the next couple of days. If Hairston doesn’t show signs of improvement, Geren said the A’s would consider calling up another outfielder (figure Travis Buck or Aaron Cunningham as leading candidates in that scenario). But I wouldn’t say there’s a ton of concern over Hairston right now. As for today, Geren said he’d like to try getting the running game going, so if Patterson gets on base, look for him to be active …

–Bobby Crosby was reinstated from the DL as expected, and you can expect to see him at third base in this weekend’s Seattle series. Adam Kennedy can flat-out use a break right now, wouldn’t you say? He hasn’t had an extra-base hit in his past 16 games, and with the Mariners starting left-handers Friday and Saturday, Geren said he’ll start Crosby at third one of those days. Geren even mentioned giving Crosby a possible start at first base over the weekend.

–No shocker here, as Geren said he’ll stick w/Edgar Gonzalez in the rotation based on last night’s solid outing. But Gonzalez’s next turn would fall on Monday’s day off, so there’s a possibility he could be skipped …

Today’s lineups

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

Cahill RHP

Royals
DeJesus LF
Bloomquist 2B
Callaspo 3B
Jacobs 1B
Pena C
Guillen DH
Maier RF
Betancourt SS
Anderson CF

Bannister RHP

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A’s promote relievers Blevins, Eveland, Kilby; Braden still doubtful to return

The A’s clubhouse got a little more crowded this afternoon, with left-handers Jerry Blevins, Dana Eveland and Brad Kilby getting called up on the first day big league rosters can expand to 40. That gives Bob Geren 10 relievers at his disposal (including five lefties), with Edgar Gonzalez moving into the expanded six-man rotation.

You’re pretty familiar w/Eveland and Blevins, who were both on the Opening Day roster. Kilby, 26, is getting his first major league action. Click here for a little information on the San Jose State product.

–Random thought, just for the heck of it: After playing the EXACT SAME batting practice soundtrack for the entire season, we finally have some fresh pre-game tunes being played over the PA. I guess Sept. 1 means that the CD collection expands as well …

And now back to business …

Eveland began the year in the A’s rotation but struggled and was sent down. He came back up for a spot start in Boston on July 6, but was sent right back down afterward. Interesting that the A’s promoted him considering he was 0-4 with a 7.88 ERA over his past five starts. But he’s got substantial big league experience, and he’s at least a pretty known quantity. The A’s saw Blevins as a key part of their bullpen when the season began, but he also struggled and has spent most of the season at Triple-A Sacramento.

Bob Geren said he sees Eveland filling the long reliever role previously held down by Gonzalez, and he said it’s possible the two could flip-flop — with Eveland taking on the starting role — at some point. Geren sees Blevins and Kilby as one-inning type guys right now, and said he wants to find some low-pressure situations to ease them into at first.

Dallas Braden is back w/the team, but isn’t throwing right now. He reiterated that doctors have told him rest is the best remedy for the “traumatized” nerve in his left foot. Does he expect to pitch again this season? “The urgency to get out and prove it’s healthy isn’t there,” Braden said. “If it’s getting better and I get back on the mound, so be it. If not, we’ll look forward to next season.”

As for other possible call-ups, Geren said he doesn’t see a third catcher coming up right now. No real timetable for when other position players may show up in Oakland. I’d expect them to show up one at a time, every few days or so. The A’s aren’t looking to deplete Sacramento’s roster w/the River Cats heading to the playoffs.

Here’s tonight’s lineups:

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

E. Gonzalez RHP

Royals
DeJesus LF
Maier RF
Butler 1B
Jacobs DH
Callaspo 2B
Teahen 3B
Olivo C
Anderson CF
Betancourt SS

Davies RHP