Braden still eyes Saturday; Anderson throws off mound

Dallas Braden said he’ll play catch tomorrow and tentatively throw off flat ground in an attempt to get ready for a possible start Saturday against Cleveland.

Braden said a major problem in his progression is that he feels like he’s starting from square one every time he wakes up. He’s tried heating pads and anti-inflammatories at night before he goes to bed to help feel better once he starts his day, but the elbow has almost always been a little stiff. Bob Geren said if things go well for Braden tomorrow, he’ll be the likely starter on Saturday.

Brett Anderson threw 40 pitches off a mound on Monday in Phoenix with hitters standing in the box but not swinging. The next step for Anderson will be to pitch again on Friday or Saturday (there seems to some confusion) with hitters possibly swinging.   

Ryan Sweeney is back in right field for the A’s, with Coco Crisp in center and Conor Jackson in left. Gabe Gross is the DH tonight as Jack Cust sits for a second straight day. Geren said it’s a matchup thing with Kevin Millwood. Gross is 5-for-6 with a homer against Millwood, and Cust is just 4-for-23 with 12 K’s. Geren said Cust will be in there tomorrow against Jake Arrieta.

BTW, an absolutely gorgeous night for baseball here at Camden Yards. About 75 degrees, slight breeze, relatively low humidity. Is this Baltimore or Walnut Creek?

The lineups

A’s – Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Jackson LF, Suzuki C, Kouzmanoff 3B, Sweeney RF, Ellis 2B, Gross DH, Pennington SS, Sheets P.

O’s – Patterson LF, Tejada 3B, Markakis RF, Wigginton 1B, Scott DH, Jones CF, Wieters C, Moore 2B, Izturis SS, Millwood P.


Braden to miss start; Mazzaro fills in

Because of elbow stiffness, Dallas Braden will not start tonight’s game against Baltimore. Braden’s next start is TBA, but manager Bob Geren said Saturday night against Cleveland be a possibility as he aims to give Braden more rest. Vin Mazzaro will start tonight’s game.

Just a couple of hours ago, Braden was going through a normal pregame routine as he prepared for his first start since June 22. But the six days off didn’t do enough for Braden’s problematic elbow, which has been an issue for about two weeks. In his last two starts, Braden has thrown mainly fastballs and changeups, with only a handful of breaking pitches mixed in.

Former Athletic Jake Fox was initially supposed to DH tonight for the Orioles, but he has been scratched in favor of Adam Jones. No Ryan Sweeney for the A’s, as he rests his knees for another day. He should be good to go Wednesday. Mark Ellis starts at DH, as Geren starts more right handed bats against the lefty Brian Matusz.  

The lineups:

A’s — Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Jackson LF, Suzuki C, Kouzmanoff 3B, Rosales 2B, Ellis DH, Davis RF, Pennington SS, Mazzaro P.

O’s — Patterson LF, Tejada 3B, Markakis RF, Wigginton 1B, Scott DH, Jones CF, Tatum C, Lugo 2B, Izturis SS, Matusz P.


A’s go for sweep of Pirates; good news for Travis Buck

The A’s trot out the same lineup as last night as they go for a sweep of the Pirates, and with the way they’ve looked the past two nights, why not? I’m not sure this team can make the kind of run they’ll need to get back in the thick of the AL West race, but regardless, a three-game sweep would provide some good vibes after the rough stretch they’ve endured …

–Travis Buck, who underwent tests in hopes of explaining the severe leg fatigue he’s experienced, has been cleared to return to baseball activity, which is a good sign for the outfielder. But I’d expect it will be a while before Buck can begin a rehab assignment.

We’re pretty light on news so far today, so here’s the lineups (yes, I realize the game is underway!!)

A’s — Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Jackson LF, Suzuki C, Sweeney RF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Cust DH, Ellis 2B, Pennington SS; Gonzalez LHP.

Pirates — Tabata LF, Crosby 2B, McCutchen CF, Jones 1B, Doumit DH, Milledge RF, LaRoche 3B, Jaramillo C, Cedeno SS; Ohlendorf RHP.


Quite a scene on 1970’s Night at the Coliseum; Eric Patterson traded to Red Sox

I walked into the A’s clubhouse today and it was … very bright. It’s 1970’s Turn Back The Clock Night at the Coliseum, and the A’s are busting out the gold jerseys and pants from their 1973 World Series championship team. The players weren’t wearing their tops yet, but they each had one hanging in their locker, and I almost needed sunglasses. The Pirates will be dressed in retro black jerseys and black pants. They’re wearing their retro gold hats with the thin black stripes ringing the hat, and that gets a big thumbs-up from me. I remember wearing one of those when I was really young, and I wasn’t even a Pirates fan.

If you tune in to the television broadcast, hopefully they get a shot of A’s radio announcer Vince Cotroneo, who is decked out in a wig and full 70’s attire. Words can’t describe it. I hear Glen Kuiper has quite the look going also …

–There’s actual A’s news to report: Eric Patterson, designated for assignment on Tuesday, was traded to the Boston Red Sox for minor league left-hander Fabian Williamson. I don’t have a whole lot of info. on Williamson, 21, but he was 4-3 with 3.72 ERA in 14 starts for Single-A Salem this season.

The lineups:
A’s –Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Jackson LF, Suzuki C, Sweeney RF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Cust DH, Ellis 2B, Pennington SS; Cahill RHP.

Pirates — Tabata LF, Young DH, A. McCutchen CF, Jones 1B, Doumit C, Alvarez 3B, Milledge RF, Crosby 2B, Cedeno SS; D. McCutchen RHP.


Conor Jackson at DH as Jack Cust sits; more setbacks for Joey Devine, Josh Outman

We’ve got baseball updates and injury updates, and I’m going w/the baseball stuff first because I assume you get your fill of injury news with the A’s, eh? …

Jack Cust is out of the lineup again, with Conor Jackson getting a start at DH, Rajai Davis playing left field and batting ninth, and Gabe Gross starting in right field. Also, Adam Rosales draws a start at shortstop, and Bob Geren says he’ll continue bouncing Rosales around the infield to give other players a rest. Geren said he wanted to keep Jackson’s bat in the lineup while resting his legs a little bit by not playing defense.

And now for the medical news …

–Pitchers Joey Devine and Josh Outman have both been shut down and aren’t likely to throw again for a few weeks. Both are hitting road blocks in their ongoing recovery from Tommy John surgery, and their setbacks are serious enough that both are being re-examined by Dr. James Andrews, who performed the procedure on both pitchers. Geren said one pitcher already visited Andrews and that the other was scheduled to do so very soon, but he didn’t specify which was which.

I’m not sure the A’s were counting on Devine rejoining the bullpen anytime soon, and this latest news continues the ongoing struggles for Devine in his attempt to get healthy. It was hoped that Outman might return sometime after the All-Star break, but now it’s unknown when he’ll be back.

–Brett Anderson continues throwing long toss, although there’s still no date for him to get on the mound. But Geren said the A’s had a 30-35 day timetable for Anderson to return to the rotation from the time he started throwing, which was Friday. If that schedule was to hold, Anderson would be back roughly a week or so after the All-Star break. Again, it’s always best to put that in pencil …

Today’s lineups:
A’s — Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Jackson DH, Suzuki C, Kouzmanoff 3B, Gross RF, Rosales SS, Ellis 2B, Davis LF; Mazzaro RHP.

Reds — Cabrera SS, Cairo 3B, Votto 1B, Phillips 2B, Gomes DH, Bruce RF, Nix LF, Stubbs CF, Hernandez C; Cueto RHP.


Coco Crisp comes off DL to start in CF; Eric Patterson designated for assignment

So much for Coco Crisp spending a full 10-day period in the minor leagues. The switch-hitter was activated from the disabled list and is leading off and playing center field tonight against the Reds. Outfielder Eric Patterson was designated for assignment to make room for Crisp on the 25-man roster. Patterson was out of options, so he couldn’t simply be sent to Triple-A. I can’t say I’m surprised that he was the outfielder to go. If he clears waivers, the A’s could send him to the minors. He’s in the same boat that Jake Fox was in. And speaking of Fox …. you probably know he was traded to Baltimore today for minor league reliever Ross Wolf. You’ll read more about that in tomorrow’s A’s notebook at www.contracostatimes.com and www.insidebayarea.com.

How much impact will Crisp make? How long will he stay healthy? The answer to that second question will help answer the first one. But the A’s need some sort of spark. They were in a very similar scenario when Crisp came off the DL on May 21, and they looked terrific with him in the lineup. But that only lasted two days, as he suffered a strained rib-cage muscle. He’s missed 28 games since then, but hit .591 (13-for-22) in six games for Triple-A Sacramento, a sign that he was definitely ready to return from the DL. “I was hoping to be up here earlier because I felt good,” Crisp said. “… We’ll see how this stint holds up. Hopefully I can finish the season without any more major injuries. We’ll see how that goes.”

How will manager Bob Geren handle his outfield rotation? Tonight the A’s start Conor Jackson-Crisp-Ryan Sweeney from left to right, with Rajai Davis sitting out. Gabe Gross gets the start at DH over Jack Cust, since Gross is batting .346 (9-for-26) lifetime against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo. Geren was asked how he’ll dole out outfield playing time. “I’m just going to try to put the best lineup out that I can each day,” Geren said. “Try to rest certain guys so they don’t get over-used, and play other guys so they don’t get stale.”

I see Sweeney taking more days off than usual just to rest his sore knees. Davis could play right field in those situations, putting Jackson, Crisp and Davis in the outfield together. Perhaps they could even DH Sweeney every now and then if they want. And if Cust doesn’t start hitting for power, perhaps Jackson could see time at DH and Davis could slide to left field.

Again, this is assuming that Crisp can stay healthy. A’s fans have to be crossing their fingers on that one …

The lineups:
A’s — Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Jackson LF, Suzuki C, Sweeney RF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Gross DH, Ellis 2B, Pennington SS; Braden LHP.’

Reds — Cabrera SS, Phillips 2B, Votto 1B, Rolen 3B, Gomes DH, Bruce RF, Stubbs CF, Heisey LF, Miller C; Arroyo RHP.


A’s-Cincinnati pregame

Coco Crisp will play another nine innings tonight for Triple-A Sacramento and it does not appear the A’s will deviate  from their original play to have him spend 10 days on a rehab assignment. Brett Anderson is on day five of his rehab assignment and is now throwing from 140 feet. No plan for when he’ll start throwing off a mound, but that probably won’t be for some time.

The lineups:

A’s — Davis CF, Barton 1B, Jackson LF, Suzuki C, Sweeney RF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Cust DH, Ellis 2B, Pennington SS, Gonzalez P.

Reds –Phillips 2B, Janish SS, Votto 1B, Rolen 3B, Gomes LF, Stubbs CF, Heisey RF, Cairo DH, Hernandez C, Leake P


Pregame tidbits on steamy afternoon in St. Louis

Just a few tidbits here as the A’s try to avoid the sweep in St. Louis. Game time temperature was 90 degrees, but the humidity makes it feel hotter:

–Coco Crisp had yesterday off but is scheduled to play a full nine innings today for Triple-A Sacramento. Crisp went 5-for-5 on Friday, and he’s reported feeling great physically. Could the A’s scrap that 10-day schedule they’ve set up and activate him from the DL early? Manager Bob Geren hasn’t acknowledged that yet. This team needs a spark of some kind, although I’d say the struggles on this awful road trip have been in all facets of the game. Based on Crisp’s injury history, I’m hesitant to say his return will have any sustained impact.

–Brett Anderson continues throwing, which won’t be all that newsworthy until there’s a date for him to get on the mound and test his elbow. Geren was asked if he thought Anderson could return to the rotation shortly after the All-Star break (July 12-14). “Hopefully,” Geren responded.

–Outfielder Travis Buck remains in Phoenix, but Geren says his oblique injury is getting better. No timetable for him to return.

Here’s the lineups, w/Jack Cust sitting for a third straight game …

A’s: Davis CF, Barton 1B, Jackson LF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Sweeney RF, Rosales 2B, Powell C, Pennington SS, Cahill P.

Cards: Schumaker 2B, Holliday LF, Pujols 1B, Ludwick RF, Rasmus CF, Lopez 3B, LaRue C, Suppan P, Ryan SS.


Overcast skies and rain as A’s-Cards prepare for Game 2

Storm clouds have moved in quickly over Busch Stadium, and without the lights on, I’ve never seen a field this dark at 5:30 p.m. There’s not a whole lot to report from the A’s clubhouse, so we’ll cut to the lineups …

P.S: It just started pouring rain as I’m about to post this!! Groundskeepers are working quickly to tarp the field, so stay tuned for whether this game starts on time …

Davis CF, Barton 1B, Jackson LF, Suzuki C, Sweeney RF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Ellis 2B, Pennington SS, Sheets RHP.

Schumaker 2B, Holliday LF, Pujols 1B, Ludwick RF, Rasmus CF, Freese 3B, Molina C, Wainwright RHP, Ryan SS.


A little more on Bailey and Braden, plus other A’s tidibits

It’s very muggy here in St. Louis, exactly what you’d expect this time of year in the Gateway City. But a local writer told me this is especially warm and humid for mid-June. It’s 91 degrees right now with about 20 minutes to go before game time. Should be a pretty good test of stamina for A’s starting pitcher Vin Mazzaro. But I’d say Trevor Cahill will have it much worse pitching Sunday afternoon. …

I know Bob Geren’s handling of the bullpen is probably foremost on people’s minds after yesterday’s loss. In his pregame media chat, Geren emphasized that he’s not trying to handle closer Andrew Bailey any differently than he has in the past. “I’m going to try to use him as much as I can for one inning, and if he’s well rested, I’ll use him more than one inning,” Geren said.

I guess most managers around the majors would say roughly the same thing. But in his postgame comments yesterday, Geren definitely made it sound like he decided — recently — to treat Bailey more carefully. Today, Geren said his strategy regarding Bailey hasn’t changed at all.

Is this making your head spin yet? I should mention that Bailey emphasized yesterday that he’s on the same page w/Geren about when/how often he should be used. I’m just not sure what page that is at the moment …

–Regarding Dallas Braden leaving after 83 pitches yesterday, both Braden and Geren said that it was time for him to come out. Braden’s elbow was really bothering him, which makes you wonder if he can continue pitching effectively with the problem. Earlier today, Braden said he threw just one slider yesterday because that pitch puts more strain on his elbow. Without that pitch, he’s mainly a fastball-changeup guy (he occasionally throws a cutter). Braden kept the Cubs off-balance w/just his fastball and changeup yesterday, but how long can he get by w/just those two pitches?

–Conor Jackson is hitting third today, and Geren said he’d like to keep him in the No. 3 spot for a while, hitting ahead of Daric Barton. …

Here’s the lineups, with Cards pitcher Chris Carpenter hitting eighth. That nutty Tony LaRussa …

A’s: Davis CF, Barton 1B, Jackson LF, Suzuki C, Sweeney RF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Ellis 2B, Pennington SS, Mazzaro RHP.

Cards: Schumaker 2B, Holliday LF, Pujols 1B, Ludwick RF, Rasmus CF, Freese 3B, Molina C, Carpenter RHP, Ryan SS.