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Just announced: A’s scratch Justin Duchscherer from tonight’s start

It was announced in the top of the first that Justin Duchscherer won’t pitch tonight for the A’s. Left hip inflammation was the reason given. Tyson Ross gets the emergency call to start.

That’s the same ailment that landed Duchscherer on the DL. As recently as yesterday, he told me he felt great. And he seemed in good spirits earlier today in the clubhouse. That’s all the information I’ve got for you now. …

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Jack Cust back in A’s lineup, playing left field; Edwar Ramirez designated for assignment; Henry Rodriguez sent down

A familiar face returned to the A’s clubhouse today, as Jack Cust was promoted from Triple-A Sacramento. He’s starting in left field tonight and hitting sixth, and manager Bob Geren said Cust would play regularly, mostly in the outfield. We can take that to mean that Eric Chavez will continue getting time at DH against right-handers. (Chavez is hitting fifth tonight against Angels righty Ervin Santana). “We were at three position players,” Geren said. “We feel like (Cust) can help us. He had a nice start down there. He’s swinging the bat well.”

The thought of Cust patrolling the outfield on a daily basis probably doesn’t fill A’s fans with confidence. But as I blogged last night, this team needs an offensive jolt. That’s the priority right now, even if the outfield defense takes a hit. I think the A’s brass still wants to give Chavez time to find his stroke at DH, so Cust’s best fit is in left.

I’ll have more on Cust in tomorrow’s notebook. But suffice it to say that this guy is very relieved to be back up here, primarily because it eases the burden on his wife, Jennifer. She’s been caring for their two young daughters in their new home in San Francisco, while Cust had to commute to and from Sacramento. “She said she felt like she had a car lifted off of her chest,” Cust said. “She’s been struggling with it.”

–The A’s designated reliever Edwar Ramirez for assignment to clear a spot for Cust on the 40-man and 25-man rosters. Reliever Henry Rodriguez was optioned to Sacramento to make room on the 25-man roster for right-hander Justin Duchscherer, who returns from the DL and starts tonight.

–Ryan Sweeney is back in right field, though he still doesn’t have his full strength back after battling a nasty stomach bug. Earlier today, he ate some toast, some rice, and a banana, but that’s about it. Doesn’t sound fun to me …

Tonight’s lineups

A’s: Pennington SS, Barton 1B, Sweeney RF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Chavez DH, Cust LF, Rosales 2B, Patterson CF, Powell C; Duchscherer RHP.

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

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Jack Cust reportedly set to rejoin A’s

Is it insane to be blogging this late? Yes, but such is the nature of round-the-clock journalism these days …

Multiple outlets are reporting that Jack Cust will be called up from Triple-A Sacramento and join the A’s for Saturday’s game against the Angels. CSN Bay Area’s Mychael Urban was first to break the news. The A’s offense is starting to resemble the punchless unit we’ve seen for much of the past few seasons, so some sort of shake-up is needed. Cust’s stats were decent for Sacramento — not great. He hit .273 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 110 at-bats. He had 33 walks and 33 strikeouts and a strong .444 on-base percentage.

Where does Cust fit in considering that Eric Chavez is already on the roster as a left-handed DH option? I don’t see the A’s releasing Chavez at this point and eating his contract. I’d expect to see Cust get time in the outfield. He’s played right field the past few days for Sacramento, but he’d probably fit best in left field for the A’s. He’s not a very good defensive option out there, we all know. But right now the A’s will sacrifice the defense to get some power in the lineup. They’ll have to clear a spot to get him on the 40-man roster, and they’ll have to clear two spots on the 25-man roster for him and right-hander Justin Duchscherer, who will be activated to start Saturday’s game. With nine relievers currently on the roster, it seems logical that two would be sent out to open spots.

I know Cust was a popular punching bag the past couple of seasons for people frustrated with the A’s offensive woes. I’m curious how his return would strike you now. Do you expect him to have a positive impact?

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Justin Duchscherer confirmed for Saturday’s start; other A’s tidbits

We’re less than an hour from first pitch at Angel Stadium. I wasn’t sure what kind of media turnout to expect for Dallas Braden’s follow-up start to Sunday’s perfect game. There’s the usual large contingent of Japanese media covering Hideki Matsui, but I don’t see many extra writers here otherwise. And it wasn’t any more crowded in the A’s clubhouse today. …

As expected, Justin Duchscherer will indeed come off the DL tomorrow and start against the Angels. He said his hip feels fine and he’s ready to go. It’ll be interesting to see how sharp Duchscherer is. He’ll have had a 15-day layoff since he last pitched. That’s not terribly long, but he’s also diving back into it without any rehab starts. The A’s will have to make a roster move to make room for him, and it seems very likely a reliever will be demoted from that nine-man bullpen.

Ryan Sweeney is sitting for a second straight game. He’s still sick, but he also had large ice packs strapped to each knee before the game. Sweeney’s knees occasionally give him trouble, so the time off may benefit him from that standpoint. Manager Bob Geren said Sweeney is available if needed tonight, however.

Kurt Suzuki will play tonight for Triple-A Sacramento, and if all goes well, he’ll play again Saturday. If Suzuki can catch back-to-back games, I’d expect to see him activated very soon after that. The A’s miss this guy (as if that’s not stating the obvious!) … And speaking of reinforcements Oakland could use, Coco Crisp will play an extended spring game in Phoenix on Monday, then begin a rehab assignment with Single-A Stockton on Tuesday. Mark Ellis is likely to join Stockton that day as well.

I walked into the stadium today, and the Angels were engaged in a full-on infield workout, just like spring training. They were running through bunt coverages, and Mike Scioscia was giving in-depth instruction and all. You’ll hear of big league teams occasionally doing this during the season, but it’s still an interesting sight to me …

Your lineups:

A’s: Pennington SS, Rosales 2B, Barton 1B, Kouzmanoff 3B, Fox LF, Powell C, Donaldson DH, Gross RF, Davis CF; Braden LHP.

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

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Another right-handed heavy A’s lineup vs. Texas

Pretty quiet scene in the A’s clubhouse before this afternoon’s series finale with Texas. Ryan Sweeney is under the weather, so he’s out of the lineup. Adam Rosales is sporting a nasty shiner above his left eye after a batting practice mishap yesterday — he hit a line drive that ricocheted off the pitcher’s screen and nailed him. But he’s OK to play second base and he’s hitting in the No. 2 spot once again. Like yesterday, the A’s have seven right-handed hitters in the lineup with lefty C.J. Wilson going for the Rangers. Not a bad idea … lefties are 3-for-39 against Wilson this season.

Justin Duchscherer (left hip) was scheduled to throw off the mound this morning. I didn’t get word on how he came out of it, but the A’s will wait until tomorrow to decide whether he’ll come off the DL and start Saturday against the Angels.

Your lineups for today:

A’s: Pennington SS, Rosales 2B, Barton 1B, Kouzmanoff 3B, Fox LF, Powell DH, Donaldson C, Gross RF, Davis CF; Sheets RHP.

Rangers: Andrus SS, Young 3B, Hamilton LF, Guerrero DH, Kinsler 2B, Murphy RF, Smoak 1B, Treanor C, Borbon CF; Wilson LHP.

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Kurt Suzuki’s return delayed; ticket discounts for A’s next homestand (thank Dallas Braden)

Hey folks, I won’t bore you w/the technical issues I’ve had trying to post this blog, so I’ll just get straight to the important stuff with the game getting underway …

–Kurt Suzuki won’t be activated for at least a few days, as his strained rib cage started acting up after last night’s rehab game with Triple-A Sacramento. He’ll take two games off and try playing Friday for Sacramento.

–Justin Duchscherer’s bullpen session is scheduled for Thursday, not today. Whether he comes off the DL to pitch Saturday depends on how his left hip feels coming out of that.

–Second baseman Mark Ellis and center fielder Coco Crisp are inching closer to returning. Both are scheduled to begin rehab assignments with Single-A Stockton next week. Crisp took BP with his teammates tonight for the first time since fracturing his left pinkie. …

–One last note: The A’s are running a promotion for their upcoming seven-game homestand. “The Perfect Homestand” will include ticket discounts, special giveaways and a ceremony to honor Dallas Braden’s perfect game. Plaza-level tickets for Monday’s game against Seattle will go for $2.09 (as in the 209 area code of Braden’s hometown of Stockton, get it?). Those tickets can be purchased at oaklandathletics.com/perfect, w/coupon code “209″.

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s: Pennington SS, Rosales 2B, Barton 1B, Kouzmanoff 3B, Sweeney RF; Fox LF, Powell C, Donaldson DH, Davis CF; Gonzalez LHP.

Rangers: Andrus SS, Young 3B, Hamilton CF, Guerrero RF, Kinsler 2B, Smoak 1B, Garko DH, Murphy LF, Ramirez C; Holland LHP.

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Dallas Braden’s “Top Ten” list for David Letterman

In case you’re curious about Dallas Braden’s performance from tonight’s “Late Show with David Letterman,” here’s the “Top Ten” list he presented:

“Thoughts That Went Through Dallas Braden’s Mind While He Threw His Perfect Game”

10. “Grandma’s right. Stick it, A-Rod.”

9. “I did it! Oh crap, it’s only the 4th inning.”

8. “Seriously, how cool a name is Dallas Braden?”

7. “Now maybe Justin Bieber will notice me.”

6. “I must not tell the world I’m Iron Man.”

5. “This is something they can never take away from me. But for $50,000 you can have my glove.”

4. “This next pitch, eyes closed.”

3. “Even I’ve never heard of me.”

2. “I should at least give up one hit so I don’t have to do Letterman.”

1. “Maybe I can give Kate Hudson a call.”

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More from Dallas Braden; Duchscherer says he’s on track for Saturday’s start

Just another day in the life of Dallas Braden, who will grace the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated, which hits the shelves tomorrow. Earlier this afternoon, he filmed his “Top Ten” segment on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” After that, he held another news conference here at Rangers Ballpark to discuss Sunday’s perfect game. Here’s a few highlights:

–Braden said he thought he had a 2-2 count on Gabe Kapler, not 3-1, when he threw the pitch that finished off the perfect game. He thought his 2-1 pitch was really close and he assumed it was a strike. So he threw a fastball and Kapler grounded out to short. “I would have thrown the guy a changeup” had he known, Braden said.

–White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, who threw the majors’ last perfect game before Sunday, gave Braden a surprise phone call to congratulate him.

–Which pitchers has Braden always looked up to? He mentioned former Giant Kirk Reuter and 47-year-old Phillies lefty Jamie Moyer, both soft throwers like himself.

““Jamie Moyer, I don’t know how old that guy is. He played catch with Jesus,” Braden said. “Guys that can’t just overpower somebody, they get out there and execute their game plan day in and day out. And Moyer’s been doing it since the turn of the century.”

–On being a Sports Illustrated cover boy: “Sports Illustrated, it’s a magazine you grow up reading. Well, I didn’t really read Sports Illustrated, I thumbed through the pictures. But it’s pretty cool that my mug’s gonna be on that magazine.”

–He also praised catcher Landon Powell, an unsung hero Sunday. The two came through the minor leagues together, and don’t think that familiarity didn’t help out that day.

–And finally, some news involving the rest of the A’s:
Justin Duchscherer said he considers himself ready to come off the disabled list and start Saturday against the Angels. He’ll throw another bullpen session Wednesday just to make sure he’s OK. Manager Bob Geren confirmed Duchscherer would start Saturday if his left hip responds well leading up to the start.

Lineups:
A’s: Pennington SS, Barton 1B, Sweeney RF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Chavez DH, Rosales 2B, Patterson LF, Powell C, Davis CF; Cahill RHP

Rangers: Andrus SS, Young 3B, Hamilton LF, Guerrero DH, Kinsler 2B, Murphy RF, Smoak 1B, Treanor C, Borbon CF; Lewis RHP.

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Aftermath from an historic day

A couple of thoughts as I take in all the highlights, analysis and hoopla surrounding Dallas Braden’s perfect game:
1) Holy cow, I wish I had been there. I was off today, watching on TV as Daric Barton caught Cliff Pennington’s throw for the final out to complete the 19th perfect game in major league history. I’ll see if Braden can repeat the feat in his next start with me in attendance. Is that too much to ask?

2) In watching SportsCenter and scanning the Internet, it strikes me that this is the first time since the end of the 2006 season that the A’s have captured national interest for an on-field accomplishment. We’re used to seeing headlines about them acquiring players in the offseason (and dealing them away in the regular season). But Braden was the talk of baseball today, without assistance from A-Rod.

It’s been interesting reading about Braden’s relationship with his grandmother, and hearing his colorful interviews played over and over. This is stuff that we know because many of us follow the team on a regular basis. But when a big event happens, these stories get re-told on a national stage for the first time. It’s sort of like what happens when a local team makes the postseason. Everything gets magnified, and suddenly there’s interest outside the Bay Area. If August and September roll around and the A’s are still in contention, the same thing will happen. And that will be exciting to be a part of. I’ll make sure I’m there to see it :)

Check out Carl Steward’s coverage of Braden’s perfect game. He also wrote a nice column on Braden and his grandmother.