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Sheets tries to rebound; other A’s pregame notes

Lots of extracurricular activities at the Coliseum today, with Andrew Bailey getting his own Bobblehead Day and Brad Ziegler hosting military families as part of the A’s Salute to Armed Forces Day.

But from the baseball perspective, the focus obviously will be on Ben Sheets and whether he bounces back after two disastrous outings. Sheets worked on making some mechanical adjustments during his side work this week, according to manager Bob Geren, but Geren wouldn’t go into specifics on what that entailed.

–Just a heads-up: If you haven’t checked out the A’s page on spitter.com yet, it’s worth a look. http://sports.spitter.com/t/mlb/oakland-athletics. There’s a pretty good archive of A’s articles, and you can post your own tweets.

–Injury updates dominated Geren’s pregame media chat. Mark Ellis (strained left hamstring) has started fielding grounders, but only on balls hit right at him. He’s not moving laterally yet in his defensive work, which will be a big test for his hamstring. Ellis is throwing from 120 feet, but there’s still no timetable for him to begin a rehab assignment.

–Kurt Suzuki took about 40 swings today, and if he feels good in the morning, he’ll take regular batting practice tomorrow. But Geren said Suzuki likely will need a short rehab assignment, probably with Triple-A Sacramento. That means we probably won’t see him Tuesday for the start of a six-game road trip.

–Travis Buck’s recovery from a strained right oblique is coming along slowly, so he won’t be rejoining the outfield anytime soon.

–I haven’t posted an update on lefty Josh Outman in a while. He’s throwing a type of simulated game today, with Ellis standing in to face him (no swinging). Outman, coming back from Tommy John surgery, isn’t expected back until after the All-Star break.

Today’s lineups:
A’s: Pennington SS; Barton 1B; Sweeney RF; Kouzmanoff 3B; Chavez DH; Rosales 2B; Gross CF; Powell C; Patterson LF; Sheets RHP.

Rays: Bartlett SS; Crawford LF; Zobrist RF; Longoria 3B; Pena 1B; Upton CF; Burrell DH; Jaso C; Brignac 2B; Davis RHP.

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Dallas Braden transcript

As I promised earlier, here’s a transcript of the interview a couple of us did with Dallas before tonight’s game.

Has the incident with A-Rod been bothering you since that day? 

“Not at all. I guess every time something pops up in your guys’ head and you come over, that’s when it becomes an issue. I stated the day that it happened that it was a done deal for me five minutes after the fact. I said what I said to him, he said what he said to me. He answered questions that were asked of him, I answered questions that were asked of me and I think if you ask both of us – as far as that’s concerned — that’s where it ended.

“It’s a non-factor in the preparation that we continue to exercise every day over here. I’m sure he forgot about it five minutes after it happened over there. Overall, the guy’s a professional, we’re professionals over here. It’s been a dead topic. It gets all the play and the banter, if you will, I guess later down the road just because we’re over here on the West Coast. If we were under the microscope that is the New Yorks, that is the Bostons, then things might have been a little different.”

But you understand that there’s an insinuation out there that things might get physical with you guys.

“That was something that was taken completely out of context. Think about it, you guys are grown adults, active members of society, I think for anybody to threaten any type of physical violence or altercation towards another athlete in the realm of their sporting venue would be right next to ludicrous. I had to laugh myself when I heard about that. That’s not what I’m about, that’s not how I play the game. I handle the game just the way I handled that day, with the respect that I have for it. For me to ever be looked upon as someone who would call another guy out physically just out of anger, that’s absurd.”

Did that come from the interviewee or the interviewer?

“I couldn’t really tell you.” (Braden is handed a printed-out copy of the ESPN story on the subject).

“Here I was asked something to the effect, if things are usually handled with knuckles where you’re from, in the 209. And my immediate response to that was, ‘We don’t do much talking in the 209.’ In no way was I saying I’m going to physically fight anybody on a baseball field. Come on. One thing I learned early, you let a sleeping dog lie. A-Rod has turned a blind eye to the subject, commendably so. I have as well. He’s gone on and prepared himself day in and day out for his competition and I’ve done the same.

“For the record, there’s no way I would call another athlete out in our venue, in the sports world. You just don’t do that. There’s a multitude of ways to handle conflicts when they arise. What kind of message do you send to the public and to kids playing the game that you need to get physical when things don’t go well or things are blown up? That’s not the case at all.”

He said he wants to move on as well, but he also said, “I don’t want to extend his 15 minutes of fame.”

“That’s fine. Every breathing entity in this world has a right to their opinion. And if that’s his opinion, so be it. That’s fine. I maintain my outlook on things. It’s a done deal for me. Professionalism is the high road that we both want to take.” 

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Duchscherer to the DL; Braden clears the air

Some news to get to on what looks like another nice night for baseball at the Coliseum (tickets still available). 

Justin Duchscherer was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 30 ,with left hip inflammation. Duchscherer, who had his cortisone shot Wednesday, said Friday that he felt good. Manager Bob Geren said Duchscherer’s next scheduled start will be Saturday. Reliever Edwar Ramirez was brought up from Triple-A Sacramento. 

Dallas Braden responded to the mild uproar over his comments to csnbayarea.com regarding Alex Rodriguez, which included,  “There’s things that are going to have to happen. Out of respect to my teammates, out of respect to the game.” But Braden insisted Friday that the comments have been taken out of context, that he didn’t want to get into a physical altercation with A-Rod or have this incident drag on for another two months until the A’s play the Yankees again at the Coliseum. When asked Friday about Braden’s comments, Rodrigueztold N.Y. area reporters, “I really don’t want to extend his 15 minutes of fame.” I’ll post the full interview with Braden a bit later.

Kurt Suzuki (intercostal strain) did some running Friday afternoon and will hit in the cage this weekend. He is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday, although Geren said Suzuki will not be activated on that day. If the hitting session goes well, that increases the likelihood that Suzuki will be activated in time for Tuesday’s game at Texas, though.

The lineup:

A’s – Pennington SS, Barton 1B, Sweeney RF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Rosales 2B, Fox DH, Davis CF, Patterson LF, Gonzalez P

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Vin Mazzaro sent down, reliever Henry Rodriguez called up

Perfect day for baseball at the Coliseum, as the A’s and Rangers get ready to play their series finale.

On to the A’s news from the morning…

–Vin Mazzaro was sent down after last night’s shaky outing and hard-throwing reliever Henry Rodriguez was called up. With days off Thursday and Monday, manager Bob Geren said the team can afford to go with a four-man rotation and eight-man bullpen for the time being. “Being that we have a couple off-days in the near future, we can go with a four-man rotation, hoping (Justin) Duchscherer can come back and fill in on the back end of that,” Geren said. As I write this, Duchscherer is supposed to be getting a cortisone shot in his left hip to help relieve inflammation. The coming days should determine whether he’ll need to join the DL.

I like the promotion of Rodriguez, who made his big league debut last September and touches 100 mph with his fastball. This bullpen needs another power arm besides Andrew Bailey. The return of Michael Wuertz helps, but the A’s need another guy who can come in and get a strikeout with runners on base. Rodriguez’s issue always has been shaky command, but word is he was spotting his fastball very well with Triple-A Sacramento. He didn’t allow an earned run in eight appearances and had 14 strikeouts and just three walks in 9 1/3 innings. During spring training, he was getting some strikeouts with his breaking ball too. If he can add a consistent second pitch to complement that fastball, this guy can be really effective.

Today’s 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; Ramirez C; Borbon CF; Lewis RHP.

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Duchscherer’s doctor appointment postponed, other A’s pregame stuff

UPDATE: Through a team spokesperson, Justin Duchscherer declined to address reporters about why his appointment to get a cortisone shot was postponed. Bob Geren said only that they would “attempt to do it tomorrow.” The fact that it was postponed makes you wonder if the condition of his hip has worsened. Then again, there could be absolutely nothing newsworthy to this. Perhaps the doctor who was supposed to see him wasn’t available.

The point is, when a player refuses to talk, it only leads to more speculation and curiosity about what’s going on …

Anyway, the fun will continue tomorrow …

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Quick recap on the day’s news as the A’s take batting practice …

–Justin Duchscherer’s appointment to get a cortisone shot in his hip was postponed until tomorrow, with very little explanation from manager Bob Geren. Hopefully we get a chance to talk to Duchscherer after BP.

–Brett Anderson is back with the team, and Geren says the lefty should start throwing after the weekend.

–Mark Ellis is eligible to come off the DL on Thursday, but it doesn’t appear he’ll be back anytime soon. Ellis is back home in Phoenix, and according to Geren he’s on Day 3 of a rehab program. What does that entail? He’s hitting off a tee right now to test his strained left hamstring, and he won’t graduate to live BP until he’s completely pain free swinging off the tee. Geren said Ellis also will require a rehab assignment to test his hamstring at game speed.

So we’ll be seeing more of Adam Rosales at second base. And that’s no bad thing considering he’s one of the few guys hitting well right now (although that pop-up last night in the ninth inning sure killed the A’s momentum).

–Infielder Steve Tolleson was optioned to Triple-A to clear a roster spot for right-hander Vin Mazzaro, who starts tonight. That doesn’t leave a true backup middle infielder, so Rosales would have to slide over to shortstop if something happened to Cliff Pennington, and Eric Patterson could play second.

Tonight’s lineups:

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

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

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Sunday’s pregame A’s update — Josh Donaldson gets another start

Checking in before the A’s final game of this road trip. …

I’d call this a pretty important game for Oakland. Sure, a win only makes it a 2-4 trip. But considering what a downer the first four games were for this team, winning back-to-back games would be big as the A’s return to divisional play with a three-gamer against Texas starting tomorrow night.

–It’s not a huge surprise to see Josh Donaldson back behind the plate today. He had to be riding high after yesterday’s game, so you might as well try to keep his confidence rolling. Ben Sheets is on the hill, and manager Bob Geren said Sheets is a pretty easy guy to catch because A) he throws two pitches primarily, and B) his pitches are consistent in their action. There aren’t a lot of surprises for a catcher in their movement.

–Geren said Triple-A starter Vin Mazzaro is “a candidate” to pitch Tuesday if Justin Duchscherer can’t go. I’d be very surprised if Mazzaro doesn’t get the call. There’s no way I see Duchscherer pitching considering he’s getting his left hip examined Monday in Nashville (does anyone expect him not to go on the DL?). Plus, Tuesday would be Mazzaro’s regular day to pitch, and the A’s are very familiar with him based on last season. Geren mentioned he could just rely on an eight-man bullpen for Tuesday’s game (the A’s could have eight relievers once Michael Wuertz is activated if they send down a position player). But that’s really only an option if Duchscherer doesn’t join the DL and only has to miss one start. Whatever he finds out Monday in Nashville will dictate this decision.

–Toronto right fielder Travis Snider was a late scratch with “flu-like symptoms”, so here’s your current lineups:

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

Jays: Lewis LF; Hill 2B; Lind DH; Wells CF; Overbay 1B; Gonzalez SS; Bautista RF; Buck C; McDonald 3B; Marcum RHP.

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Ryan Sweeney not in A’s lineup today, other pregame notes

Pretty quiet pregame scene today at the Rogers Centre. The roof will be closed, and it’s always a little funky watching a day game indoors. It could be 10 a.m. or 10 p.m., and you couldn’t tell from being inside this place.

–Ryan Sweeney is out of the lineup today because his knees aren’t feeling great after playing four straight games on turf. Sweeney deals with tendinitis in both knees on a regular basis. He had platelet-rich plasma injections in his knees immediately after last season ended to help with the problem. But Sweeney said he could play today if called upon and expects to return to the lineup tomorrow. He’s reached base in all 23 games he’s played, and he’s just four away from the Oakland record for most consecutive games reaching base to start a season — Mark McGwire had a 27-game streak in 1995 and Carney Lansford did the same in 1992.

With Sweeney out, Rajai Davis gets moved up to second in the batting order with Daric Barton hitting third.

–Michael Wuertz turned in another solid rehab outing last night, throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings for Triple-A Sacramento. It’s looking very much like Wuertz will rejoin the A’s bullpen soon, though manager Bob Geren said that probably won’t be until the upcoming homestand. Wuertz’s presence has definitely been missed in the late innings, so his return should be a boost.

–I have no idea how Gio Gonzalez will pitch today, but he was in a good mood before the game. The lefty likes playing Motown in the clubhouse before he pitches, and he was dancing to “What’s Goin’ On?” by Marvin Gaye before batting practice. Sort of reminded me of Rod Tidwell in “Jerry Maguire.” You remember that scene at the wedding reception, right? …

Today’s lineups …

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

Jays: Lewis CF; Hill 2B; Lind LF; Wells DH; Ruiz 1B; Gonzalez SS; Bautista 3B; Snider RF; Molina C; Eveland LHP.