4

Back to basics for the A’s in their pregame activities

There’s generally little variation in a major league team’s pregame routine. That’s what makes this A’s homestand a bit unusual. There’s been a lot more on-field activity — early in the day, before batting practice — than normal. I walked out on the field today and the entire squad was out there. Pitchers and infielders were practicing bunt coverages; outfielders were taking fly balls. This is in preparation for the upcoming interleague games in National League parks — the A’s expect to see lots of pitchers bunting, so they’re making sure to brush up on all the fundamentals.

As for other A’s news, Rajai Davis continues making progress with his sore left hamstring. He said he ran foul pole to foul pole and felt pretty good, but he’s still day-to-day.

–With Davis out, it’s an outside-the-box A’s batting order. Mark Ellis is in the leadoff spot at DH. Adam Rosales gets a start at second base, and Jake Fox is playing left field. A’s manager Bob Geren wanted to load up on right-handed hitters against Angels lefty Joe Saunders. I can understand the logic. But after last night’s game, I’m surprised Jack Cust isn’t back out there. Cust is a streaky guy, and if that opposite-field homer last night is indeed a sign that he’s getting dialed in, why not keep him in there?

–Gabe Gross isn’t in the lineup, but Geren said Gross is available after slightly injuring his back last night.

Tonight’s lineups …
A’s: Ellis DH, Barton 1B, Suzuki C, Kouzmanoff 3B, Rosales 2B, Sweeney RF, Fox LF, Carson CF, Pennington SS; Braden LHP.

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

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A’s call up Matt Carson; Rajai Davis likely out a couple days

Another day, another transaction for the A’s …

Outfielder Matt Carson was called up from Triple-A Sacramento and reliever Henry Rodriguez was optioned out. To this point, there’s no discussion of Rajai Davis’ hamstring injury sending him to the DL. But he’s likely to miss a game or two, so the A’s opted for more outfield depth and summoned the right-handed hitting Carson, who hit .293 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 33 games with the River Cats. He was on the DL from May 3-21 with a strained intercostal muscle. (Seriously, how often had you even heard the word “intercostal” before this season. The same type of injury has taken down Kurt Suzuki and Coco Crisp. I usually refer to it more as “rib cage” so readers know what part of the body we’re talking about).

Anyway, Carson is hitting .405 with five of his six homers vs. lefties in the minors, and he’s likely to see time against lefties up here, manager Bob Geren said. There’s even a chance Carson and Adam Rosales, another right-handed bat, could play the outfield together. Carson has strictly been a center fielder this season …

–You should have seen the players gathered around the TV in the A’s clubhouse to watch Stephen Strasburg in his big league debut. Everyone’s interested in what this kid’s got … But there were a couple of clubhouse guests who could have cared less — Seaver Sheets and Diego Chavez, the young sons of two of the more high-profile Athletics. They were much more interested in playing basketball than watching Strasburg, and I can report that Seaver shows nice potential with his jumper …

Tonight’s lineups, w/Eric Patterson hitting leadoff for Oakland …

A’s: Patterson LF, Barton 1B, Sweeney RF, Suzuki C, Cust DH, Kouzmanoff 3B, Gross CF, Ellis 2B, Pennington SS; Mazzaro RHP.

Angels: Aybar SS, Izturis 2B, Abreu RF, Hunter CF, Matsui DH, Napoli C, Rivera LF, Ryan 1B, Frandsen 3B; Weaver RHP.

0

Quick review on Day 2 of A’s draft

The A’s just wrapped up the second day of the draft, with one day left to go. A’s scouting director Eric Kubota talked about the top four guys taken today, all drafted out of high school. Here’s a quick sketch of those players:

–SS Yordy Cabrera (2nd round, 60th overall):
Kubota describes Cabrera, out of Lakeland High in Florida, as a “toolsy” player who runs well. “We considered taking him in the first round.” Cabrera was born in the Dominican Republic but moved here as a teenager. His father was a prospect in the Tigers organization.

–OF Aaron Shipman (3rd round, 92nd overall): The A’s see Shipman, out of Brooks County High in Quitman, Ga., as a center fielder/leadoff type with athleticism and speed. Like Cabrera, Shipman was rated high on the A’s board and they were happy he fell to the 92nd pick.

–3B Chad Lewis (4th round, #125th overall): Lewis attends Marina High School in Huntington Beach, the alma mater of Daric Barton. “He’s a classic corner athlete — good defense, power bat,” Kubota said.

–RHP Tyler Vail (5th round, #155th overall): As A’s scouts were tracking Vail, he called to mind another A’s pitcher. “He reminds us of Vinny Mazzaro at the same age,” Kubota said. Vail attends Notre Dame High in Bethlehem, Pa.

OK, so those turned out to be very brief sketches :) But that’s all I’ve got right now. I’ll follow up with a post on the A’s news of the day …

2

More on A’s first-round pick Michael Choice, with comments

Here’s a little more on outfielder Michael Choice, drafted 10th overall by the A’s today. He played center field for all three seasons at University of Texas-Arlington, but there’s thought that Choice might be best suited as a corner outfielder. A’s scouting director Eric Kubota said the A’s will give Choice every chance to play center field, and if not, they think he can be a very good defender in right or left. He doesn’t turn 21 until late November, so he was young for a college junior.

Choice just addressed reporters on a conference call, and he said he’s eager to sign and get his pro career started. Last season’s 10th overall pick, pitcher Drew Storen, signed for a $1.6 million bonus, which was below MLB’s recommended salary slot for that pick (worked out nicely for the Washington Nationals, who took him). Reportedly, Choice is not demanding above-slot money. So the A’s should have this kid signed much sooner than last year’s top pick, shortstop Grant Green, who didn’t sign until deadline day in August.

I chatted with UT-Arlington head coach Darin Thomas earlier. Here’s his thoughts on Choice:

“When you talk about tools, he has them. He hit from the first day he stepped on campus as a freshman. Then his power developed. It didn’t matter if we were playing Texas A&M, Texas or TCU in our non-conference schedule, he hit.”

Kubota said the A’s like Choice’s arm, and Thomas raved about his arm. Choice made two relief appearances this season and wanted to pitch more, but Thomas didn’t want to jeopardize his health. He said Choice hit 90-92 mph on the gun. What outfield spot does Thomas think Choice is best suited for? “Maybe he’s a corner guy, but I wouldn’t rule out center field.”

I’ll have a full story in tomorrow’s paper, and at contracostatimes.com. … Remember, you can follow me on twitter at twitter.com/joestiglich …

0

Chavez takes a few swings

Not a ton of news to report before tonight’s series opener against the Angels. Eric Chavez took some swings in the batting cage this afternoon and said he feels good. He just went as long as was comfortable. No need to push things at this point. His schedule for the rest of the week is still being ironed out by the A’s training staff, but it’s possible Chavez could start a rehab assignment when the team leaves for Chicago next week.

Manager Bob Geren said Coco Crisp is supposed to play in a intrasquad game in Arizona a week from now, and will possibly begin a rehab assignment after that.

Adam Rosales is playing shortstop tonight as Geren seeks ways to keep him in the lineup. Cliff Pennington will be back in the lineup tomorrow, Geren said. Jake Fox is playing left field, as Gabe Gross has the day off.

When reporters met with Geren, he wasn’t sure if Andrew Bailey or Michael Wuertz were going to be available for tonight. But I’m guessing with two days off, Bailey should be ready to go. Justin Duchscherer had his left hip surgery this afternoon in Tennessee. No word yet on how it went. 

The lineups

A’s – Davis CF, Barton 1B, Suzuki C, Kouzmanoff 3B, Rosales SS, Sweeney RF, Ellis 2B, Cust DH, Fox LF, Sheets P.

Angels – Aybar SS, Kendrick 2B, Abreu RF, Hunter CF, Matsui DH, Napoli 1B, Rivera LF, Frandsen 3B, Wilson C, Kazmir P.

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A’s select UT-Arlington outfielder Michael Choice

Quick draft update: The A’s selected University of Texas-Arlington outfielder Michael Choice w/the 10th pick overall in the first round. Not a surprise selection by any means, though there was thought that Choice might be taken before the A’s turn to pick. Choice, a 6-foot, 215-pounder who hits and throws right-handed, was ranked by Baseball America as the second-best college power hitting prospect behind catcher Bryce Harper, who went No. 1 overall to Washington.

Choice hit .383 with 16 homers and 59 RBIs as a junior this season, getting named the Southland Conference’s Player of the Year. He walked a whopping 76 times, meaning opposing pitchers obviously pitched around him a ton.

We’re about to talk to A’s scouting director Eric Kubota. Hopefully I’ll have a better scouting report for you in a bit …

0

A’s looking to avoid the broom vs. Twins

Any doubts this is a big game for the A’s? They’re trying to avoid a three-game sweep to the Twins, but they also need to steal some momentum as they begin a four-game series tomorrow against the Angels, who are playing well and just leapfrogged the A’s in the standings.

No Adam Rosales in the A’s lineup today. What’s this guy have to do to stay in there … somewhere?

Here are the full lineups:

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

Twins: Span CF, Tolbert 2B, Mauer DH, Kubel RF, Young LF, Valencia 3B, Harris 1B, Punto SS, Butera C; Blackburn RHP.

2

Eric Chavez is back, hopes to come off DL soon; other A’s tidbits

It was an unusually warm afternoon here at the Coliseum. Typically, the temperature drops significantly once the sun goes down, but it’s feeling like it might be a short-sleeves night all the way.

–Eric Chavez made a surprise appearance in the A’s clubhouse today. He showed up a couple days earlier than expected, and he’s hopeful of starting baseball activity and beginning a minor league rehab assignment in about a week or so. Of course, that timeframe should be considered tentative. Chavez, who went on the DL May 22 with two bulging disks in his neck, has been recuperating at home in Phoenix. All indications are he’s recovering well, but first he has to show he can swing and run without pain.

“Hopefully when the team leaves (for a road trip that begins June 15) I’ll be going on rehab,” he said.

–After starting the A’s first 56 games, first baseman Daric Barton finally gets a day off, with Adam Rosales spelling him. Not a bad time to do it, with Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano on the mound. “I don’t think I need a rest, but it’s good to rest your body,” Barton said. “We’re facing a tough lefty, and it gets ‘Rosey’ in there. He’s been swinging it well.”

Barton is hitting .281 with four homers, 22 RBIs and 16 doubles, and he’s currently riding an 11-game hitting streak. He’s been the No. 2 hitter all season, and he’s definitely at his best when leadoff man Rajai Davis is getting on base. Barton handles the bat well and is a good bunter. And it’s gotta be nice facing a pitcher whose mind is occupied when Davis is on base.

“He’s been our most consistent guy at the plate all year,” A’s manager Bob Geren said of Barton.

–Ryan Sweeney also gets a night off. I was a little surprised he played last night, just a day after he took a knee to the head as he and Mark Ellis chased a foul pop-up against Boston. Sweeney still isn’t quite feeling 100 percent after the collision, Geren said, but he’s available tonight if needed.

–Geren said he’d try to avoid using closer Andrew Bailey tonight, but noted that Bailey has pitched in three straight games before. But Thursday’s outing was a two-inning effort, so I doubt we’ll see Bailey tonight. So who might get the call in the ninth if the A’s are protecting a close lead? Brad Ziegler is my guess …

–Justin Morneau has the stomach flu and is absent from Minnesota’s lineup. The Twins are also without shortstop J.J. Hardy, a late scratch because of a left wrist contusion:

A’s — Davis CF, Ellis 2B, Suzuki DH, Kouzmanoff 3B, Rosales 1B, Fox C, Gross RF, Pennington SS, Patterson LF; Cahill RHP.

Twins — Span CF, Tolbert 2B, Mauer C, Thome DH, Kubel RF, Young LF, Valencia 3B, Harris 1B, Punto SS; Liriano LHP.

0

Reaction from Anderson

Brett Anderson doesn’t know when he’ll be able to throw again after receiving word that he has tendinitis in his left elbow, but he definitely thought that things could have been worse. As of now, surgery isn’t on the table.

“Anytime there’s something in your elbow or near your elbow, it’s kind of a little bit worrisome,” Anderson said before tonight’s game. “But with the diagnosis I got today, hopefully it works out in the end.”

I’ll have more reaction from Anderson in tomorrow’s paper, but I just wanted to let everyone know that Anderson seems to be taking this in stride. He’s dealt with this before and just feels he may have to be a bit more cautious this time around.  Whether that means another month off the roster remains to be seen. But the injury, right now, does not appear to be season-ending.

0

Anderson to DL, Rosales playing SS

Brett Anderson was placed on the disabled list today with tendinitis in his left elbow after he had a contrast MRI. Calling it relatively good news, manager Bob Geren said Anderson will not throw until he’s symptom free and then he’ll start back up again. Anderson won’t be throwing for at least 2-3 days, but Geren is hopeful that the left-hander can begin a program before too long. Geren said Vin Mazzaro is filling Anderson’s slot in the rotation.

In other moves, catcher Landon Powell was optioned to Sacramento and relievers Cedrick Bowers and Henry Rodriguez were brought up. Geren wanted a little more depth in the bullpen considering how much he had to use his relievers on the road trip.

Mired in a 1 for 32 slump at the plate, Cliff Pennington is not starting tonight at shortstop. Adam Rosales will play that position, with Geren saying Rosales might even play first base some time soon. Pennington will be back in the lineup tomorrow though.

Andrew Bailey is “50-50” for tonight’s game after throwing two innings yesterday. Geren said Eric Chavez is doing better and may join the A’s early next week for workouts.

After his collision with Mark Ellis yesterday, Ryan Sweeney said he didn’t sleep that well last night but started to feel better as the day went on and is back in the lineup.

The lineups

A’s – Davis CF, Barton 1B, Sweeney RF, Suzuki C, Cust DH, Kouzmanoff 3B, Gross LF, Ellis 2B, Rosales SS, Braden P.

Twins – Span CF, Hardy SS, Mauer DH, Morneau 1B, Kubel RF, Young LF, Valencia 3B, Punto 2B, Butera C, Baker P