Well, the A’s face a steep task to jump back into contention in the AL West. And Texas’ acquisition of left-hander Cliff Lee today certainly didn’t make that mission any easier. That’s the storyline as the A’s and Los Angeles Angels — the teams giving chase to the first-place Rangers — begin a three-game series tonight at the Coliseum. A’s manager Bob Geren was asked if he still felt the Rangers were catchable, and if Oakland could be the team that catches them. The Rangers hold a 5 1/2 game lead over the Angels, while the A’s trail by 9 1/2. Geren, always one to take the optimistic view on things, said he considers his team very much in the hunt. “I think we’re going to get some (injured) players back that are going to help us, and we play those teams ahead of us in the second half as well.”
Some of those players he was referring to are pitchers Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden and outfielder Conor Jackson. Jackson (strained right hamstring) could begin a rehab assignment Monday, and if all goes well he could rejoin Oakland for the three-game series at Kansas City coming out of the break. Anderson (left elbow inflammation) is making his first rehab assignment tonight in the Arizona Rookie League. The A’s are hoping he returns by the end of the month. Braden (left elbow stiffness) will throw a flat-ground side session (basically pitching without being on a mound) tomorrow, and that will give a barometer to when he returns. If all goes well, it’s possible Braden could slide in at the back of the rotation coming out of the break.
That’s all for now. Here’s the lineups:
A’s: Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Sweeney RF, Suzuki C, Cust DH, Kouzmanoff 3B, Ellis 2B, Gross LF, Pennington SS; Mazzaro RHP.
Rangers: Aybar SS, Kendrick 2B, Abreu RF, Hunter CF, Matsui DH, Rivera LF, McAnulty 1B, Frandsen 3B, Mathis C; Pineiro RHP.