There’s a surprise addition to the A’s lineup tonight: Coco Crisp, playing center field and batting leadoff. Just yesterday, manager Bob Geren said Crisp and second baseman Mark Ellis would both play rehab games for Triple-A Sacramento. Crisp wound up skipping that step, so tonight marks his A’s debut after he was sidelined the first 42 games with a fractured left pinkie. “I didn’t want to go to Sacramento,” Crisp said, before adding with a smile. “Ellie didn’t want to go either … heh heh.”
Crisp mentioned more than once that he expects Ellis to rejoin the A’s on Saturday. But Geren hedged his bet, saying that Ellis needed to show his strained left hamstring is healed by playing a full nine innings in a minor league game. “He could be back shortly, or it could be a few days,” Geren said. Geren was also asked if Crisp lobbied hard to be activated tonight, considering that just yesterday the plan was for him to play at least one game at Triple-A. “Lobbying had nothing to do with it,” the manager said. “The positive thing is he’s healthy and ready to play. Being that his timing is (good), and he has no pain swinging the bat, that’s how I made the decision.”
This offense could sure use a shot in the arm. Will Crisp have an immediate impact? He had a four-hit game in Single-A action on Tuesday. We’ll see how he reacts to big league pitching. Defensively, Crisp’s extended DL stint probably benefited him, just because it gave more time for both of his shoulders to heal. Remember, he had surgery on both shoulders last summer.
As for the trickle-down effect, catcher Landon Powell was sent to the minors to make room for Crisp, so the A’s have six outfielders now. Geren has a juggling act at the DH/left field spot between Jack Cust, Eric Chavez and Rajai Davis. Geren said Chavez would still be his DH against right-handers. I’d expect the left-handed hitting Cust to play left field over Davis in that situation, unless Davis catches fire with the bat. Against lefties, I see the right-handed hitting Davis playing left field and Cust DH’ing over Chavez, just because I think Cust is more likely to deliver offensively. That’s the setup tonight against Giants lefty Barry Zito.
At some point, you figure another roster move will force the A’s to make a tough call w/their outfield logjam. Davis and Eric Patterson are both out of options, so it’s a risk sending either of them through waivers. Could the A’s cut ties with Gabe Gross at some point? I could see it happening.
–Justin Duchscherer is not conceding he’ll need hip surgery just yet. He told me before the game that he’s heading to Phoenix on Sunday to throw some bullpen sessions. If he feels good, he said the plan would be to make two rehab starts and then see if he can return to the A’s rotation. Is this extreme optimism? Yes. But I don’t blame the guy for exhausting every option before undergoing season-ending surgery. As he put it: “I wish I was 20 years old, but I’m not.”
Finally, tonight’s lineups:
Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Sweeney RF, Suzuki C, Kouzmanoff 3B, Cust DH, Rosales 2B, Pennington SS, Davis LF; Cahill RHP.
Giants: Rowand CF, Sanchez 2B, Sandoval 3B, Huff 1B, Molina DH, Uribe SS, Bowker LF, Torres RF, Whiteside C; Zito LHP.