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Mark Ellis day-to-day with hamstring strain, Eric Chavez sits again, and other A’s pregame notes

Just lost another entire blog entry as I tried to post. One of these days I’ll learn to save as I’m writing. Rather than chuck my laptop out a window, which is my preference, I’ll try to knock this baby out again. …

We have a funky 3:40 p.m. start time for the A’s-Mariners game, since it’s Seattle’s home opener. Death Cab for Cutie, a band that made it big out of Seattle, was just on the field performing John Fogerty’s “Centerfield.” They did it pretty good justice, too …

On to the A’s news …

–Mark Ellis is out with a strained left hamstring, suffered yesterday as he legged out an infield grounder. He’s hopeful of only missing a couple of days. Adam Rosales draws a second straight start at second base.

–Eric Chavez sits for the second straight day with Jake Fox serving as DH, though manager Bob Geren said Chavez could pinch-hit. Counting today, Chavez has started just five of the A’s eight games so far. Geren said he wanted to give Chavez a couple days off as the A’s faced a lefty yesterday (Joe Saunders) and get another one today (Ryan Rowland-Smith). But I’m surprised Chavez already has sat as much as he has. Perhaps it’s a smart effort to keep him fresh and injury-free. But this guy hardly has played over the past three seasons, and the only way for him to find a groove is to get regular at-bats.

Chavez looked pretty good at the plate Saturday, and Geren said Chavez is doing well health-wise. “His bat speed looks good.” Asked if Chavez is only his regular DH against right-handers, Geren didn’t give a concrete answer. But he added that if the A’s face a string of lefties in a row, Chavez will get playing time against them.

–Gabe Gross gets his first start in left field over Travis Buck. “We’re seven games into the season,” Geren said. “I wnat enough guys to get some playing time. He’s a good defensive outfielder and (Safeco Field) is a big outfield to cover.” It will be interesting to see how the left-handed hitting Gross fares against Rowland-Smith, because Gross hasn’t played a whole lot against lefties over his career. But I can see him getting more playing time, as Buck is hitting just .190.

A’s lineup:
Davis CF
Barton 1B
Sweeney RF
Kouzmanoff 3B
Suzuki C
Rosales 2B
Fox DH
Gross LF
Pennington SS

Duchscherer RHP

Mariners:
Ichiro RF
Figgins 2B
Gutierrez CF
Lopez 3B
Griffey Jr. DH
Bradley LF
Kotchman 1B
Johnson C
Wilson SS

Rowland-Smith LHP

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Sunday pregame update for A’s-Angels finale

You’ll see a different look in the A’s lineup today, not surprising with a day game after a night game. Kurt Suzuki, Eric Chavez and Travis Buck get days off, with Mark Ellis the DH. Adam Rosales draws his first start at second base (a chance to play another right-handed bat vs. Angels lefty Joe Saunders). And Eric Patterson, 4-for-5 lifetime against Saunders, gets his first start in left field. As I mentioned in this morning’s notebook, Jake Fox will make his first big league start at catcher. Manager Bob Geren had mentioned the possibility of DH’ing Suzuki today, but he instead gave him the full day off. Probably a good idea, as Suzuki is 1-for-13 over his past three games.

A’s lineup:
Davis CF
Barton 1B
Sweeney RF
Kouzmanoff 3B
Ellis DH
Fox C
Rosales 2B
Patterson LF
Pennington SS

Braden LHP

Angels:
Aybar SS
Abreu RF
Hunter CF
Matsui DH
Morales 1B
Rivera LF
Kendrick 2B
Napoli C
Wood 3B

Saunders LHP

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Saturday lineups for A’s-Angels

We’ll cut right to the chase and give you tonight’s A’s-Angels lineups. Short and sweet …

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

Sheets RHP

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

Weaver RHP

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Jack Cust accepts assignment, to join Triple-A with A’s

Just an update that Jack Cust accepted the A’s minor league assignment, so he’ll report to Triple-A Sacramento. Cust had the option of becoming a free agent and forfeiting his $2.65 million salary. Now he’ll get paid that money while in the minors.

After he was designated for assignment last Saturday, Cust said he expected he would end up joining Sacramento. It wasn’t a great time to catch on with another team considering most opening day rosters had been set. And that’s a pretty steep salary for a team to take on.

Cust paid some serious dues working his way through the minors — nearly 10 full seasons — before establishing himself over three years with the A’s. I’m curious how his competitive fire will burn now that he’s returning to the minors. But it’s very possible he makes a return to Oakland this season if the A’s are struggling for power. Cust would have to be added to the 40-man roster in that scenario …

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Daric Barton update, and recap of A’s 10-4 victory over Los Angeles Angels

OK, take 2 on this blog after I finished an entire entry only to see it disappear when I got logged off the Internet here at Angel Stadium. Not that you all care about that, nor should you. There’s A’s news to recap:

Nice start to this road trip for the A’s, who beat the Angels 10-4 tonight. After posting 13 more hits, the A’s lead the AL with 53 hits overall. But if you’re an Oakland fan, I think you have to be most encouraged w/the manner in which they won. They dictated things w/aggressive baserunning, keyed by Rajai Davis and Daric Barton atop the lineup. Those two had quite a night, combining to go 6-for-9 with four RBIs and four runs.

Did you catch the replay of Barton’s right knee caving on him in the fifth? Anyone else get a Joe Theismann flashback? Barton said he actually hurt his right hip on the play, not his knee. And he stayed in the game, so as long as he shows up to the ballpark feeling good tomorrow, I’d say the A’s dodged a bullet.

With all the offense, I think it was easy to overlook Gio Gonzalez’s solid six innings of work. I know that we reporters usually jump on the “Gio sure seems to be maturing” theme whenever he pitches well. But really, isn’t this the kind of start you wanted to see from him in this type of game? Not dazzling, just solid and efficient once he was given a lead.

6:05 p.m. start tomorrow, as Ben Sheets goes against Jered Weaver.

That’s all for now …

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Lineups and updates before A’s-Angels series opener

We’re about an hour from first pitch here at Angel Stadium. There’s always a good atmosphere for baseball here, and maybe the best press box from which to cover a game. It’s open-air, right above the first deck. Can’t beat it …

–Coco Crisp may be on the disabled list, but he’s still in pretty good spirits. He walked by me in the clubhouse and sprayed me with some of his Zegna cologne. Either he’s a very generous fellow, or there was an odor I wasn’t aware of. I choose to believe the former …

–Not a whole lot of pregame A’s news to report. Michael Wuertz threw 20 pitches from the mound and everything went well, according to manager Bob Geren. Wuertz (shoulder tendinitis) has said he’s shooting for the middle of the next homestand to return from the DL.

Here’s your lineups for the opener of this three-game series …

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

Gonzalez LHP

Angels:
Izturis SS
Abreu RF
Hunter CF
Matsui DH
Morales 1B
Rivera LF
Kendrick 2B
Wood 3B
Mathis C

Palmer RHP

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Tyson Ross — Toast of the town

OK, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration when it comes to the A’s rookie pitcher and Berkeley native. But Ross is definitely feeling good today after he threw 2 1/3 shutout innings in relief Wednesday night in his big league debut against the Mariners.

A few of us chatted with him before today’s game and manager Bob Geren talked a little about what it will take for him to make the transition from starter to reliever. Chances are he won’t pitch today, but it probably won’t be long before he’s used in another game. The A’s are high on him.

Not a ton of news to report today, but the A’s did claim outfielder Jai Miller off of waivers from the Marlins and optioned him to Sacramento. To clear space on the 40-man roster, the A’s transferred Josh Outman to the 60-day DL.   

Geren said Joey Devine’s throwing session went well Wednesday in Arizona, as he felt good after throwing 30 pitches off a mound. Geren said Devine will do the same thing two or three days from now, but is still about a month away from beginning a rehab assignment.

The lineups

A’s — Davis CF, Barton 1B, Sweeney RF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Suzuki C, Chavez DH, Ellis 2B, Buck LF, Pennington SS, Anderson P.

Mariners — Suzuki RF, Figgins 2B, Gutierrez CF, Bradley LF, Sweeney DH, Lopez 3B, Tuiasosopo 1B, Moore C, Wilson SS, Fister P

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Chavez sits, Fox gets start at DH for A’s; Ellis batting second

There’s a little different look to the A’s lineup, with Jake Fox serving as DH in place of Eric Chavez, Mark Ellis batting second and Daric Barton dropping down to sixth. Yes, it’s early for Chavez to be getting a day off. He told me before the game he feels good physically, and manager Bob Geren said the decision wasn’t due to Chavez’s health. Chavez had one sharp single last night, but he’s 1-for-9 overall and hasn’t looked in sync at the plate.

I think Geren likes getting the right-handed hitting Fox in there against Seattle lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith. And you’d think there’s a chance Fox might catch tomorrow (day game after a night game), so it might make sense to get him some at-bats tonight. But it’s going to be interesting to see how much Chavez plays if he stays cold at the plate. On one hand, you need to play the guys that are hot. On the other hand, the A’s DFA’ed Jack Cust in order to make Chavez the regular DH. And if he’s going to shake off rust from hardly playing the past three seasons, the only way to do that is to play …

Geren downplayed the swap w/Ellis and Barton in the order. He thinks both have taken good at-bats, but likes Ellis hitting higher against the lefty Rowland-Smith.

Here’s the A’s lineup:

Davis CF; Ellis 2B; Sweeney RF; Kouzmanoff 3B; Suzuki C; Barton 1B; Fox DH; Buck LF; Pennington SS; Duchscherer RHP.

Mariners lineup:
Ichrio RF; Figgins 2B; Kotchman 1B; Bradley LF; Griffey Jr. DH; Lopez 3B; Gutierrez CF; Johnson C; Wilson SS; Rowland-Smith LHP.

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A’s pull out 2-1 win over Seattle Mariners

I’m toast right about now, so just a quick blog on the A’s 2-1 win before I head home:

–Bob Geren said Dallas Braden’s changeup was as good as he’s seen it. In fact, he said it was the best he’s seen Braden, period, and I’d have to agree. Braden’s outing tonight was proof that you don’t have to blow up the radar gun to be dominant. The A’s need this guy to step up, especially w/Ben Sheets still trying to find his form.

–Rajai Davis had an 0-for-5 night and stranded 7 men on base. But for the second straight night, he came up with a diving catch in center field. If you don’t get it done with the bat, it’s always good to make up for it with the glove.

–Were you surprised to see Mr. Selective, Daric Barton, swing at a 3-1 pitch and fly out in the ninth with the bases loaded? Geren said he gave Barton a take on 2-0 but was OK w/him swinging on 3-1. Geren asked Barton where the pitch was when Barton got to the dugout, and Barton said it was a perfect pitch to hit.

–Solid work by the A’s bullpen so far, which hasn’t given up an earned run in seven innings. …

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A’s reliever updates, other pregame notes

Your much anticipated Mariners lineup:

Ichiro RF
Figgins 2B
Gutierrez CF
Bradley DH
Lopez 3B
Kotchman 1B
Byrnes LF
Moore C
Wilson SS

Snell RHP
*************

It’s another sunny afternoon at the Coliseum as the A’s take BP. After it looked like rain might threaten Monday’s opener, we’ve actually had pretty nice weather out here. The temperature drops quite a bit when the sun goes down, but who’s gonna complain?

–Today’s random observation: The person singing the national anthem is doing a pregame soundcheck as we often see. But this I’ve never seen: The Mariners are out on the field and standing at attention for it. You can never practice your Star Spangled Banner pose enough, I suppose …

–Updates on a couple of wounded A’s relievers: Michael Wuertz (shoulder tendinitis) is on day 3 of a throwing program that’s getting him closer to returning to the mound. Manager Bob Geren expects he might know in the next day or two when Wuertz could start his minor league rehab assignment.

Joey Devine remained in Phoenix as planned for extended spring training, but he’s not throwing regularly from the mound yet, according to Geren. So I wouldn’t be counting on his return anytime soon …

–The A’s go with the same lineup as last night against Mariners starter Ian Snell.

Rajai CF
Barton 1B
Sweeney RF
Kouzmanoff 3B
Suzuki C
Chavez DH
Ellis 2B
Buck LF
Pennington SS

Braden LHP

I’ll post Seattle’s lineup when I see it. I better start scribbling it down when I’m in the clubhouse. …