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A’s rolling and relaxed these days

Things are pretty loose in A’s land right now. Among the new decorations in the clubhouse: A couple of mini-basketball hoops, the kind you might have put on your bedroom door back in the day. Guys have been practicing their jumpers with little nerf basketballs. I’m guessing that Ben Sheets might have purchased these. He was wearing his orange Warriors trunks after last night’s game and likes to boast of his hoops skills.

Today’s lineups:
A’s: Davis CF, Barton 1B, Sweeney RF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Suzuki C, Chavez DH, Gross LF, Rosales 2B, Pennington SS; Duchscherer RHP.

Orioles: Jones CF, Markakis RF, Wieters C, Tejada 3B, Scott DH, Reimold LF, Wigginton 2B, Atkins 1B, Lugo SS; Guthrie RHP.

–Second baseman Mark Ellis is out for a sixth straight game with his tender hamstring. I asked him if he’d rather be cautious because it’s early in the season, but he said he’s dying to get back in the lineup. With the team playing well, the A’s can afford to give him all the time he needs to recover. Manager Bob Geren said he’s likely to keep Ellis out tomorrow as well because the team has Monday off. The hope is that the extra rest will have Ellis ready for Tuesday’s series opener with the Yankees.

–Geren said he was flipping through highlights last night before he went to sleep and he caught the replay of Cliff Pennington’s two-run triple against Kevin Millwood. He liked that Pennington was able to turn on an inside pitch and not yank it foul. “A lot of guys would get jammed,” Geren said. “The good thing was, his swing was short and he kept it fair.”

One thing to watch with the switch-hitting Pennington is how he handles left-handed pitchers as the season wears on. His splits were much better against righties than lefties last year. This season, he’s 8-for-28 from the left side of the plate but just 1-for-10 from the right.

That’s all for now …

Joe Stiglich