Conor Jackson makes first A’s start in leadoff spot

Tonight’s A’s lineup features a couple of surprises. Conor Jackson starts in left field (as expected) and he’s batting leadoff (unexpected). Ryan Sweeney is playing center and Jack Cust is in right. That’s a tough break for Rajai Davis, who had three hits last night and lands on the bench tonight. This is the first time we’ve seen Sweeney in center this season, though he played there plenty in 2008 and 2009. Just yesterday, A’s manager Bob Geren said Jackson could hit anywhere from 1-7, but that he didn’t envision him as a leadoff man for Oakland. Before tonight’s game, Geren said: “I don’t see him as a leadoff hitter now, but he could be occasionally. Because I elected to go with Jack over Raj, I elected to hit (Jackson) first today.”

If the A’s outfield seems crowded now, there will be a bigger numbers crunch when Coco Crisp comes off the DL. But it’s looking like that won’t happen during this road trip. Crisp played his first rehab game w/Triple-A Sacramento last night, and Geren said the team has a 10-day program mapped out for Crisp as he returns from his rib cage injury. That 10-day period is fluid — depending on how Crisp feels, he could come back sooner or later.
But Geren made it clear the A’s want to be convinced Crisp is 100 percent ready when he does get activated.

A good game last night couldn’t keep Davis in tonight’s lineup, and his playing time stands to be further reduced once Crisp returns. “He’s always in the mix,” Geren said of Davis. “He’s a good player. We’re going to have a situation where we have a lot of good players playing the same position. It’s something we look forward to.”

Let’s throw this question out there: Would you like to see Davis playing regularly even after Crisp returns? We’re talking after interleague play, when the DH is available …

Tonight’s lineups, even though the game is now underway …

A’s: Jackson LF, Barton 1B, Sweeney CF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Suzuki C, Cust RF, Rosales SS, Ellis 2B, Gonzalez LHP.

Cubs: Theriot 2B, Baker 3B, Byrd CF, Lee 1B, Nady RF, Soriano LF, Soto C, Castro SS, Dempster RHP.

Joe Stiglich