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More familiar faces in A’s lineup vs. Brewers

We’ve got a few more regulars in the A’s lineup today. Here’s what it looks like for Cactus League home opener vs. Brewers:

Rajai LF
Ellis 2B
Suzuki C
Kouzmanoff 3B
Chavez 1B
Cust DH
Buck RF
Rosales SS
Patterson CF

Sheets P

It’ll be interesting to see how Bob Geren sets the middle of his batting order. I could see Suzuki-Kouzmanoff-Chavez-Cust being a potential combination in the middle, but I’m not sure how much we should glean from today’s order. For one thing, I don’t expect right-handers to take up the first four spots. Figure switch hitter Coco Crisp will occupy one of the top two spots when he plays.

Chavez gets his first real game experience at first base, so we’ll see if he gets any difficult plays over there. Geren said the A’s broke out a stop watch yesterday and timed Chavez on how long it took him to cover the bag from where he was playing a hitter. They also compared that to the speeds with which many of the game’s fastest left-handed hitters get down the line. That gives him an idea of how much time he has to get to the base and receive a throw. Technical stuff, but still sorta interesting.

That’s all for now …

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A’s drop Cactus League opener to Cubs 9-3; slide show from the game

Final score from HoHoKam Park: Cubs 9, A’s 3. You’ll get a full story in tomorrow’s paper, but here’s the essentials:

The good: Chris Carter launched a monster homer in the eighth and newcomer Adam Rosales also went deep. Rajai Davis had a nice day in left field, throwing two runners out at third.

The bad: Seven A’s pitchers surrendered five homers total. Starter Trevor Cahill was taken deep by Derrek Lee, and bullpen candidate Brad Kilby surrendered two shots in the seventh.

The ugly: Jake Fox, playing third base against his former team, was way off target on a throwing error to first that allowed a run to score.

–Bob Geren thought Cahill threw decent overall in two innings. He also said he was impressed with the relief effort of Justin Souza, who pitched a scoreless eighth with three strikeouts.

Check in w/you tomorrow … Oops, almost forgot the slide show link:

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Trevor Cahill gives up two runs in two innings of spring debut for A’s; Adam Rosales homers

Just a quick update on the happenings at A’s-Cubs exhibition opener:

Trevor Cahill started for A’s and went two innings, giving up two runs on three hits, including Derrek Lee’s solo homer to left-center in the first. Surprisingly, Cahill said he was more nervous for this outing than he was for his spring debut as a rookie in ’09. If it’s because he’s in a battle for No. 5 starter’s spot, Cahill wasn’t letting on. He just said he hasn’t gotten to face hitters much in workouts before today.

Cahill is trying to incorporate a slower curve into his repertoire, to go along with his slider as a second breaking ball. He gave up Lee’s homer on a changeup and said he doesn’t have the feel of that pitch yet this spring.

Whatever he’s throwing, Cahill needs to stay away from the long ball, which was his problem area last year. … Not that this outing is going to carry all that much weight. Cahill will get plenty of mound time this spring.

Clayton Mortensen gave up a homer to the Cubbies’ Marlon Byrd in the fourth. Newly acquired infielder Adam Rosales homered in the fifth for the A’s first run — and hit — of the spring. Chicago leads 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth …

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Pregame updates for Oakland A’s exhibition opener

The A’s play their exhibition opener today against the Cubs, with first pitch a little less than three hours away. I didn’t really detect a different mood in the clubhouse compared to past days. I’ve got to think the young guys — especially those in their first major league camp — have a few butterflies. The veterans probably take things more in stride, although many of them aren’t even making the trip to Mesa. No changes in the A’s lineup from the one I tweeted yesterday:

Rajai LF
Barton 1B
Sweeney RF
Fox 3B
Gross CF
Rosales 2B
Powell C
Pennington SS
Cahill P

A couple other tidbits:

–Joey Devine threw a 30-pitch bullpen yesterday and it went well. Significantly, he threw breaking balls and his elbow felt fine. He thinks he could face hitters this weekend. Could this put him on pace for the start of the season? Tough to tell …

–Jason Jennings, signed on Sunday, threw live BP to hitters yesterday and said he’ll throw in a simulated game tomorrow. Manager Bob Geren said the right-hander will appear in a Cactus League game in about a week. I think the A’s are curious to see what this guy’s got, either as a bullpen candidate or a fill-in starter if Justin Duchscherer isn’t ready by the start of the season.

Speaking of Duchscherer, Geren says things continue to go well in his throwing program. No concrete word on when he’ll throw off the mound.

Remember, you can hear today’s game in the Bay Area on KTRB 860. It’s a noon start (1 p.m. AZ time).

And in my shameless plug for the day, I’ll mention that you can follow me at twitter.com/joestiglich. Thanks to those of you who already are …

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A’s updates on Kevin Kouzmanoff, Coco Crisp; Chris Townsend taking over postgame radio show on 860-AM

It’s a sunny but cool morning at Phoenix Muni. Here’s the day’s news so far in A’s land …

Today’s intrasquad game will be three innings (yesterday it was planned as two). Kevin Kouzmanoff isn’t playing because of his bruised shin, but Bob Geren was hopeful he’d play in tomorrow’s exhibition opener against the Cubs. Eric Chavez gets a planned day off today …

After saying Coco Crisp might not play center field in games until the end of the Cactus League, Geren said this morning it might only be a week or so before Crisp plays defense.

–The A’s issued a press release announcing that Chris Townsend will take over the postgame radio show on 860-AM. Robert Buan still works for the A’s, and he tells me he’ll still be webcasting games down here in AZ, which is good news for fans.

Here are the lineups for today’s intrasquad:

Rajai LF
Sogard 2B
Suzuki C
Carter 1B
Cust DH
Buck RF
Wimberly CF
Whitney 3B
Green SS

Wright P

Other side …

Ellis 2B
Barton 1B
Sweeney DH
Taylor LF
Fox C
Patterson CF
Rosales SS
Brown RF
Petit 3B

Gonzalez P

One last note: With Cactus League games starting tomorrow, I’m happy to report that I can put names with faces for just about every player in the A’s clubhouse by now. There are 63 players on the spring roster, and it takes a while.

Somebody who works for the A’s brought up an interest topic the other morning — the “clubhouse walk-by.” The goal in the clubhouse walk-by is to casually stroll past somebody’s locker, steal a quick glance at the name plate above the locker and figure out who that player is standing there. Hey, it’s not like I’m the only one who has to do this. Even the A’s themselves take a while to get to know their teammates. I’ve seen two players talking, and one of them mentions a name and the other guy scrunches his eyebrows as if to say, “Who?”

That’s spring training for you …

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Lineups and other tidbits before Oakland A’s intrasquad game

Here are the lineups for the A’s intrasquad game today:

Rajai LF
Pennington SS
Chavez 1B
Fox 3B
Cust DH
Gross CF
Buck RF
Powell C
Cardenas 2B

Anderson P

And for the other side …

Coco DH
Barton 1B
Sweeney RF
Taylor LF
McPherson 3B
Patterson CF
Rosales SS
Donaldson C
Weeks 2B

Braden P

***A few things jump out. Gross is in center field because Coco Crisp is DH as the A’s are trying to limit his throwing after shoulder surgery. And manager Bob Geren wants Rajai Davis to get as much work in left field as possible. Gross typically plays the corner outfield spots, but he told me during the offseason he thinks center is the easiest OF position to play.

I’m interested to see how Eric Chavez looks at first base and Jake Fox at third. Fox must be beat by the end of his days. He’s working with the catchers in the morning, then shedding the gear and taking grounders at third base and first.

Dallas McPherson, a non-roster invitee, gets to show his stuff at third base. He’ll really have to impress to make this team. But this morning, Geren recalled a homer the left-handed hitting McPherson bashed a few years back against the A’s at Angel Stadium. It went opposite field to left, and Geren said it traveled as far as any he’s seen an A’s right-hander hit in that stadium.

The game begins in a little more than two hours. It’s supposed to last four innings, with all pitchers going one inning each.

If there’s anything good to report from it, I’ll blog again …

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Dallas Braden, Brett Anderson start A’s intrasquad game Tuesday

It was Photo Day at A’s camp this morning, where players have to show up early to the clubhouse, don their game uniforms and sit through numerous photo shoots. In general, they like this stuff about as much as a cat likes getting dumped in a bath tub, but they get through it. Not that they relish having us beat writers stick a notebook in their face every day. But this team is a pretty easygoing bunch, and they cooperate well with writers and photographers.

We’re getting closer to watching real baseball, which is always welcome at this point of spring training. Exhibitions start this week, and the A’s have posted their scheduled pitchers for the next few days …

Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson are set to start Tuesday’s intrasquad game at Phoenix Muni (12:30 p.m. start for those in the area). Also scheduled to pitch: Tyson Ross, Pedro Figueroa, Brad Ziegler, John Meloan, Fernando Hernandez and Fautino De Los Santos.

Gio Gonzalez and Matt Wright start Wednesday’s intrasquad affair, with Henry Rodriguez, Marcus McBeth, Sam Demel and Bobby Cassevah also going. No word on that start time, although 12:30 is a good bet.

Trevor Cahill takes the hill in Thursday’s Cactus League opener against the Cubs in Mesa with Clay Mortensen, Justin Souza and Jerry Blevins also slated. Ben Sheets starts Friday against the Brewers in Phoenix, followed by Vin Mazzaro, Andrew Bailey and Brad Ziegler. On Saturday, Braden starts against the Angels in Phoenix with Tyson Ross, Pedro Figueroa, Michael Wuertz and Blevins scheduled to follow.

All of this is subject to slight alteration, of course, because some guys aren’t able to get into their scheduled games on occasion.

It’s funny how I really look forward to each new stage of camp, just to break the monotony of the drills I’ve watched for the first 10 days or so. Right now the idea of an intrasquad game sounds pretty exciting, even though it’s basically just a controlled scrimmage. I’ll take it. …

And I’m watching baseball in Arizona every day. Can’t complain too much, right?

That’s all for now …