5

Postgame wrapup from A’s 5-3 loss to Mariners

A few thoughts on the A’s season-opening defeat against Seattle, beyond the obvious point that four errors normally doesn’t equate to victory …

–Ben Sheets looked similar to me as he did in spring training with shaky command, and I’m not surprised by that considering he missed all of 2009. If Sheets stays healthy, I expect him to be much better in June and July than he is right now. He’s a fastball-curve ball guy, and he said the key is finding the location on his fastball. “Everything works off the fastball, so if you get the fastball in a groove, everything else is going to be better,” Sheets said.

Are you confident Sheets will get sharper with time? Feel free to sound off …

–Things may have turned out differently had Cliff Pennington not been thrown out at third in the seventh, on the Rajai Davis single that tied the game. That was a tough spot for Pennington. He was on first and when he got to second, he saw left fielder Milton Bradley bobble the ball and broke for third. Bob Geren gave him credit for holding up between second and third, to make sure Travis Buck scored before Pennington was tagged out. But I thought Pennington sort of ran into the tag, and Pennington, to his credit, accepted responsibility for the play afterward when addressing reporters.

But we’ll probably see lots of Athletics getting thrown out on the bases this season, as the team is stressing aggressive baserunning. And for the most part, I don’t think Geren will chew guys out for being aggressive and getting nailed.

–Speaking of baserunning, Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins did exactly what the A’s hope to get from their speed guys this season. They put pressure on the A’s once they got on base and made things happen w/the running game. I didn’t get a chance to talk to A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki after the game, but I’d be interested to get his take on the Mariners’ base-stealers.

And you should watch Tuesday how lefty Dallas Braden, who has a good pickoff move, handles Ichiro and Figgins in game 2 of this series …

Check in w/you tomorrow …

1

Pregame update for A’s-Mariners season opener

*****Updated w/Mariners’ lineup:

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

Hernandez RHP

*********

All was very quiet in the A’s clubhouse leading up to batting practice. If the intensity gets cranked up because it’s Opening Night, that won’t happen until closer to first pitch, I suppose. Tonight’s batting order was about how I thought it would look — very similar to Saturday’s, with Travis Buck swapped in at the No. 8 spot for Jack Cust. Here ya go …

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

Sheets RHP

–Seattle’s lineup hasn’t been posted yet in the press box, so I’ll tack it on to this post when I see it …

12

A’s designate Jack Cust for assignment; Eric Chavez will be DH; Travis Buck to start in left field

You’ll have plenty to read in tomorrow’s paper about the A’s many intriguing moves today. Here’s the highlights of how they hashed out their 25-man roster:

–Jack Cust was designated for assignment, meaning he must clear waivers and the A’s then would have 10 days to trade him, release him or send him to the minors. If another team doesn’t claim Cust, he can accept or decline a trip to the minors. The A’s wanted to clear a path for Eric Chavez to be the everyday DH, and GM Billy Beane said he felt trying to split DH at-bats between Cust and Chavez was redundant.

You didn’t see this one coming? Me either, especially since Cust was the most consistent power hitter on a team that’s starving for power.

–Coco Crisp was placed on the disabled list with a dislocated pinkie, paving the way for Travis Buck to make the Opening Day roster. Not only that, manager Bob Geren said Buck will begin the season as the starting left fielder.

–Gio Gonzalez (not surprisingly) was named the fifth starter after a solid effort Saturday. Trevor Cahill (surprisingly) was placed on the DL with a left shoulder injury. Geren said Cahill dealt with the problem much of the spring, though the right-hander never had mentioned it.

–Tyson Ross claimed a bullpen spot after just one full season in the minors.

–Landon Powell was optioned to Triple-A, meaning utility man Jake Fox made the team as the backup catcher. Powell’s demotion also allowed the team to keep both Eric Patterson and Adam Rosales, two guys who can play several positions.

That’s all for now …

0

Coco Crisp’s status unknown for opener; Tyson Ross looking like possibility for A’s bullpen

We finally got some wireless Internet issues cleared up here in the press box, so on with the blogging …

Here’s the pregame happenings as the A’s play the Giants in their final exhibition of the spring:

–Center fielder Coco Crisp had x-rays on his pinky, but they won’t be reviewed by a doctor until later today. He’s cautiously hopeful that he can play in Monday’s season opener. “Hopefully by Monday, everything will be well enough to play, no worries,” he said. “If I’m not able to play Monday, probably a couple days after that.” Jack Cust is starting in left field today with Rajai Davis playing center and Eric Chavez at DH.

Crisp said it wasn’t his head-first slide that caused the injury last night. Juan Uribe whacked his finger on the tag, and Crisp said he got up to find his pinky was bent at a 90-degree angle.

“Sexxaayyy,” Crisp joked in describing his finger.

–The A’s won’t announce their cuts until after the game. That’s also when we’ll find out who the fifth starter is. Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill are both throwing today. It’s hard for me to believe that everything is really riding on this outing. The A’s must go into the game with a pretty good idea about who they want in the rotation. These guys have been evaluated for about six weeks now …

Relievers Brad Kilby and Henry Rodriguez have already received the news they’re going down. Kilby was gone from the clubhouse this morning, and Rodriguez was still in street clothes after his teammates took the field. Both said goodbye to teammates. This leaves the possibility that right-hander Tyson Ross will make the team. The only other scenario is if the loser of the fifth starter competition goes to the bullpen.

Why haven’t you heard me mention Ross in the bullpen mix? The same reason you didn’t hear me mention Andrew Bailey last spring. He’s been impressive, but it’s been under-the-radar impressive. Ross was drafted in the second round in 2008 and has just one full year in the minors. This would make quite a story, as Ross attended Bishop O’Dowd High School and Cal …

Today’s A’s lineup:

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

Gonzalez P