0

A’s call up reliever Brad Kilby, send Landon Powell down

Believe it or not, there was non-Dallas Braden news taking place with the A’s today. Reliever Brad Kilby was called up from Triple-A and catcher Landon Powell was sent down after spending just two games with the big club.

With lefty Jerry Blevins still day-to-day with back spasms, manager Bob Geren said the team needed an extra arm in the bullpen.

Tonight’s lineups:

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

Indians
Cabrera SS
Sizemore CF
Choo RF
Hafner DH
Peralta 3B
Branyan 1B
LaPorta LF
Valbuena 2B
Marson C
Westbrook RHP

1

More from Dallas Braden on his battle with Alex Rodriguez

This Dallas Braden-Alex Rodriguez altercation has taken on a life of its own. And Braden is still pretty ticked about yesterday’s incident, where Rodriguez trotted directly over the mound while returning to first base on a foul ball hit by Yankees teammate Robinson Cano. Braden took serious offense to the move. He addressed reporters today in front of his locker, where a teammate posted a photocopy of a 2009 New York Post headline that read “A-Hole,” published during Rodriguez’s steroid controversy.

Here’s some of Braden’s thoughts:

**Is he surprised the altercation has caused a stir in the national media?

“I guess I shouldn’t say I’m surprised, just because of who he is. But I don’t think it would have been blown up to this magnitude if it (involved) me and — in A-Rod’s opinion — some other guy just like me, which according to him is pretty much a worthless individual.”

**What does he think of Rodriguez claiming he didn’t know about a rule of etiquette that base runners shouldn’t set foot on the mound?

“That’s what you’re supposed to do when you know you’ve made an error in judgement and you really don’t want to own up to it immediately. He’s an intelligent individual. He knows what happened.”

**Braden said he received 150 texts yesterday from people talking about the incident, and he said all reaction he’s gotten has been in his favor.

“I’m of the understanding that the opinion formed is in the majority that he kind of crossed the line.”

**Braden also referred to past instances where Rodriguez has, in his opinion, crossed the line of etiquette. The only specific example he gave, however, was from Tuesday, when he said Rodriguez was leaping off first base while taking his lead, going overboard in trying to distract A’s pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

**He stressed he wasn’t trying to carry the flag for other teams in taking Rodriguez to task.

“It’s a matter of respect to me and it’s a matter of getting that opinion across to him. In no way, shape or form was it meant to call anybody out or shed light on anybody’s attitude. It’s just all about one incident — one huge isolated incident — between himself and our squad.”

Even as Braden claims the incident is history, he’s sort of fanning the flames himself by continuing to be outspoken about it. He’s sick today, and the A’s sent him home so his teammates wouldn’t catch whatever bug he has. But Braden joked that the A’s simply don’t want him yapping to reporters anymore about A-Rod …

0

Mark Ellis to the DL; A’s recall catcher Landon Powell; plus other pregame notes

The sun has appeared here at the Coliseum as the A’s take BP. That’s a welcome sign, because it’s been about as chilly as I can remember leading up to a night game here. We’ve had overcast skies, and weather.com calls for a 70 percent chance of rain leading up to the game (dropping to 50 percent by game time). But it’s the strong wind that might have players grabbing for turtlenecks tonight …

–Mark Ellis was placed on the DL and catcher Landon Powell was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento. Ellis said his left hamstring felt great as he worked out leading up to last night’s game. But he felt it grab in his first at-bat and knew something was wrong. Ellis said he feels like his seven days of inactivity were a waste, since he could have started his DL stint earlier and let the injury heal. And considering he was hitting .323 and felt good at the plate, he’s especially frustrated. “I felt really good, but it’ll be fine. I’ll get back to that,” he said.

Calling up Powell gives manager Bob Geren some flexibility to get Jake Fox in the lineup more if he chooses. He can have Fox DH and still have an extra catcher on the bench. Plus, if Fox is DH and there was a spot to pinch-hit Eric Chavez for him, Geren could do that and still have a backup catcher available. Geren added that he thinks Kurt Suzuki’s swing is coming around, and he doesn’t have any plans to start Powell at catcher in the coming days.

Powell was hitting just .217 in 23 at-bats w/the River Cats, but the A’s are familiar w/what he can do based on last season.

–I spoke briefly with Craig Breslow, who said he was trying to run a fastball inside on Alex Rodriguez last night but instead left the pitch out over the plate. A-Rod crushed a three-run homer.

Breslow, like Brad Ziegler, takes on a more prominent bullpen role until Michael Wuertz comes back. So the A’s need the lefty to be sharp. Breslow said he was a little tentative in cutting loose w/his fastball when he first returned from an elbow injury in spring training. But he says he’s felt better since then.

–Rajai Davis, hitting .140 over his past 10 games, gets his first day off. Cliff Pennington gets a start in the leadoff spot, though Geren said it’s likely just for tonight. “Sometimes guys watch the game and they regroup,” Geren said of Davis. Gabe Gross gets the start in center field.

Also, Kevin Kouzmanoff — 0-for-16 with runners in scoring position so far — drops to sixth in the order with Suzuki hitting cleanup.

–Watch the matchups between Daric Barton and Yankees starter Phil Hughes tonight. Barton says the two faced each other in high school a couple times. Hughes attended Foothill High in Santa Ana, while Barton went to Marina High in Huntington Beach.

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s:
Pennington SS
Barton 1B
Sweeney RF
Suzuki C
Chavez DH
Kouzmanoff 3B
Gross CF
Rosales 2B
Buck LF
Sheets RHP

Yanks
Jeter SS
Johnson DH
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Posada C
Granderson CF
Winn RF
Gardner LF
Hughes RHP

4

Big media interest for A’s-Yankees opener; Cahill sent to Triple-A; Ellis, Barton both in lineup

I thought the A’s clubhouse was more crowded than usual with some extra reporters here tonight. Then I ducked my head into the Yankees clubhouse … Holy cow, there were probably more media members than there were players. The Yankees still have a pretty huge traveling press corps, and combined with the extra Bay Area media on hand, it’s quite the scene. I’ll be interested to see how many fans show up (and which team they’ll be rooting for) …

–A pretty nice moment just took place down on the field, as A’s relievers Chad Gaudin and Edwar Ramirez were surrounded by the whole Yankee team and given their World Series rings. Both were with New York last season (Gaudin was traded to the Yankees in August). Playing in pinstripes left a pretty big impression on Gaudin, who said he was amazed at the camaraderie when he joined the team. And Ramirez said he’s still tight with Mariano Rivera. I just saw the two of them chatting for a few minutes.

Some news to report as well …

–The A’s activated Trevor Cahill from the DL and optioned him to Triple-A Sacramento. No surprise there, as all five Oakland starters have looked pretty good so far. Manager Bob Geren said he talked with Cahill about things the young right-hander needs to work on. “Overall strike percentage, we talked about that going up,” Geren said. “A few more ways to combat left-handers — pitching to the inside part of the plate, keep working on his breaking ball …”

–Good news for the A’s, as Mark Ellis, Daric Barton, Cliff Pennington and Ryan Sweeney are all back in the lineup. Ellis had a seven-game layoff with his strained left hamstring.

–Things don’t seem as positive for reliever Michael Wuertz, who told me he’s still shaking off rust during his rehab appearances. Wuertz is on the DL with shoulder tendinitis, and it was thought that maybe a couple of minor league outings might have him ready. But he’s not at that point yet, and he said he’s got to keep reminding himself he doesn’t have nearly enough innings under his belt. “For me, this is about how I normally feel the last couple of weeks of spring training,” he said.

Wuertz will throw again Wednesday for Triple-A Sacramento. “We’ll see how I come out of it,” he said. “If there’s got to be another (rehab outing), there’s got to be another one.”

The lineups:
A’s
Davis CF
Barton 1B
Sweeney RF
Kouzmanoff 3B
Suzuki C
Chavez DH
Ellis 2B
Buck LF
Pennington SS
Gonzalez LHP

Yankees
Jeter SS
Johnson DH
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Posada C
Swisher RF
Granderson CF
Gardner LF
Vazquez RHP

0

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 …

0

Brett Anderson, A’s agree on four-year, $12.5 million contract extension

There was big news before the A’s even took the field for batting practice today, as left-hander Brett Anderson signed a contact extension that will pay him $12.5 million over four years (2010-13). The A’s hold club options for 2014 ($8 million) and 2015 ($12 million). Anderson gets a $1.5 million buyout if either option is declined. The deal replaces the $410,000 salary he was going to earn this season. He’ll get $500,000 this season; $1 million in 2011; $3 million in 2012 and $5.5 million in 2013.

That’s a pretty nice package for Anderson, 22, who’s just two starts into his second big league season. But it’s also a great deal for the A’s. They buy out his arbitration-eligible years (2012-14) as well as the first year he would have been eligible for free agency (2015).

Anderson was asked if he thought twice about bypassing his first season of possible free agency. “There’s something to be said for being secure at 22 years old,” he said. “I can go out there and focus on pitching and not have to worry about too much else for right now.”

It’s obviously a big statement from the A’s about the type of pitcher they see Anderson becoming. “I don’t know if we’ve had a guy since I’ve been here who’s accomplished as much as he has at that age,” GM Billy Beane said. “And there’s no reason to think he’s not going to continue to get better.”

–Second baseman Mark Ellis is out of the lineup for the fifth straight game with his hamstring injury. But he did some jogging and took grounders, so it would appear he’s moving in the right direction. Kurt Suzuki, hitting just .189, gets a night off. Manager Bob Geren said Suzuki’s been chasing some pitches he normally wouldn’t, so Jake Fox gets a start at catcher. Geren also pointed out that Fox worked well with tonight’s starter, Dallas Braden, on Sunday against the Angels.

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Davis CF
Barton 1B
Sweeney RF
Kouzmanoff 3B
Chavez DH
Fox C
Gross LF
Rosales 2B
Pennington SS
Braden LHP

Orioles
Jones CF
Markakis RF
Tejada 3B
Wieters C
Reimold DH
Scott LF
Atkins 1B
Wigginton 2B
Izturis SS
Millwood RHP

0

Postgame notes on Gio Gonzalez, and a Coco Crisp update

I think the A’s would have been happy were they told before the season that they’d go 6-4 out of the gate against the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels. But after they dropped the final two games of this road trip at Safeco Field, there’s a feeling they could have accomplished bigger things.

“We won six of them and we could have won a couple more,” manager Bob Geren said.

Some updates from the postgame locker room scene:

–You may have noticed Gio Gonzalez was pitching with the initials “VM” written on his cap. That was a tribute to his girlfriend, Valerie Mathias, who was seriously injured in a car accident Saturday night in Anaheim. She’s in a San Diego hospital right now. Although Gonzalez said she has no memory of the accident, she’s recovering.

As if that wasn’t enough, Gonzalez said he was still mourning the loss of another friend, Raul Rodriguez, who was killed in a car accident two weeks ago in Gonzalez’s hometown of Hialeah, Fla.

Who knew Gonzalez was dealing with this when he went to the mound tonight? It’s no wonder he wasn’t as sharp as in his first start. His 4 2/3 innings on Wednesday was the shortest outing of any A’s starter this season.

–I spoke with outfielder Coco Crisp after the game. He’s scheduled to have his fractured left pinkie examined Friday, and that could provide a more specific timetable for his return. “I’ll get X-rays and we’ll see how it’s coming along,” he said. As it stands, Crisp still believes he’ll miss anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks from the date of his injury, which was April 2.

Crisp is doing agility work and he’s throwing to keep his surgically repaired shoulder in shape. But he’s found another way to stay sharp. Since he can’t catch with his normal glove hand (the left), he’s borrowed one of Gonzalez’s gloves and is shagging flies with his right hand. I guess that makes him a “switch fielder.”

With that, I’m out …

0

Pregame update for A’s-Mariners series finale

Your lineups for tonight’s series finale at Safeco Field:

A’s
Davis CF
Barton 1B
Suzuki C
Kouzmanoff 3B
Fox DH
Rosales 2B
Gross RF
Patterson LF
Pennington SS
Gonzalez LHP

Mariners
Ichiro RF
Figgins 2B
Gutierrez CF
Lopez 3B
Bradley DH
Byrnes LF
Tuiasosopo 1B
Moore C
Wilson SS
Vargas LHP

–Mark Ellis continues to make progress from his strained left hamstring, according to manager Bob Geren, but he’s still not game-ready. Michael Wuertz is making his first rehab appearance Friday for Triple-A Sacramento, and he could be activated after two games there, depending on how his shoulder responds. Trevor Cahill will make a 60-pitch start for Sacramento on Monday, but as I mentioned before, I’d expect him to stay in the minors when he’s activated from the DL, unless there’s an injury in the big league rotation.

–There was quite a bit of buzz over catcher Kurt Suzuki’s seventh-inning play last night, where he made a spinning catch of a wayward pitch, then fired a perfect throw to third to nail Chone Figgins. It ranked No. 2 on ESPN’s “Web Gems” for the day. I wandered over to the Mariners’ clubhouse today to get Figgins’ thoughts. He said he didn’t want to talk because it was getting close to game time, but he also had the look of a guy who had heard plenty about it already. “He made a great play, a great read,” Figgins said.

–Eric Chavez sits against another lefty tonight, with Jake Fox getting the call at DH. Interestingly, Geren says he doesn’t consider the situation a platoon, but it’s starting to look that way. Chavez says he’s fine with the plan, adding it’s important for both him and Fox to get at-bats and find their strokes. You’ll read more from Chavez in tomorrow’s notebook …

Patterson gets the nod over Travis Buck in left field. Both hit left-handed, but Geren prefers Patterson with a lefty on the mound.

3

Postgame notes from A’s 3-0 loss to Mariners

Milton Bradley has just three hits this season. Unfortunately for the A’s, all three are against them and two have been for homers. His three-run shot off Brad Ziegler in the eighth inning tonight was the difference in a 3-0 Seattle Mariners win.

A few tidbits from the game:

–Michael Wuertz’s absence in the bullpen definitely is missed in a game like this. Ziegler hardly had his best stuff tonight. But manager Bob Geren stuck with him in the eighth, probably hoping Ziegler could deliver a double-play ball even as he was struggling with his command. Ziegler said he missed his location on about 90 percent of his pitches, and he doesn’t have a huge margin for error on these kinds of off-nights.

–It wasn’t your typical “Web Gem,” but that was a terrific play by catcher Kurt Suzuki in the seventh inning. He managed to catch a slider from Ziegler that was way outside, spun around and fired a strike to third base to nail Chone Figgins, who tried to advance from second on the play. Geren, a former catcher, raved about the play afterward. I’m not sure I’d go as far as saying that Suzuki is “revolutionizing” the position with athletic plays like that, as Geren put it. But it was really impressive.

–Ryan Sweeney singled in the fourth inning, extending his season-opening hitting streak to nine games.

That’s all for now …

2

Michael Wuertz, Joey Devine recovering well; Mark Ellis still sidelined vs. Mariners

How many of you would have guessed that after eight games the A’s would lead the American League in runs (43) and lead the majors in ERA (2.61)? These stats won’t mean too much until we get at least a few weeks into the season, but pretty interesting to ponder nonetheless.

Are you putting much stock into this fast start? Still skeptical? Feel free to sound off …

–Not much pregame news to report tonight. Relievers Michael Wuertz (shoulder) and Joey Devine (elbow) are both recovering well. Wuertz threw 20 pitches today with a batter standing in, and manager Bob Geren said it’s possible Wuertz begins a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento in the next three days. If not, he’ll throw from the mound one more time with the big club before joining the River Cats.

Devine is just about ready to face hitters, but his return is still looking to be sometime in May.

Here’s your A’s lineup, minus Mark Ellis at second base as expected. Ellis said his left hamstring is feeling much better, but Geren said he won’t rush the veteran back into the lineup. Tomorrow’s game is still a question mark …

A’s
Davis CF
Barton 1B
Sweeney RF
Kouzmanoff 3B
Suzuki C
Chavez DH
Rosales 2B
Buck LF
Pennington SS

Anderson LHP

Mariners
Ichiro RF
Figgins 2B
Gutierrez CF
Lopez 3B
Sweeney DH
Bradley LF
Kotchman 1B
Johnson C
Wilson SS