There wasn’t a lot of pregame news coming out of the A’s clubhouse before the start of this important series with Texas. Jack Cust is getting another start in left field with Jeff Larish serving as DH again (Bob Geren likes having Larish’s bat in there). A couple changes from last night: Kevin Kouzmanoff is back in the fifth spot after showing some life with the bat in the Cleveland series, and Rajai Davis is playing right field in place of Gabe Gross …
A’s – Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Suzuki C, Cust LF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Larish DH, Ellis 2B, Davis RF, Pennington SS; Anderson LHP.
Rangers – Andrus SS, Young 3B, Hamilton LF, Guerrero DH, Cantu 1B, Murphy RF, Treanor C, Blanco 2B, Borbon CF; Hunter RHP.
–Ben Sheets has joined the team for the rest of the road trip, bringing the wackiness (and volume) to the clubhouse like only he can. He’s about 2½ weeks removed from having triple-surgery on his right elbow (ligament replacement, flexor tendon repair, pronator tendon repair). He just had his splint removed today and now he’s wearing a black contraption on his arm that looks like some sort of space-age cast.
Sheets’ stance on his future hasn’t changed: He’ll try pitching again if his arm completely heals, but he’s going to make sure it feels better than it did after his first surgery that sidelined him in 2009. Some highlights from his chat w/reporters:
–He first knew something was seriously wrong with his elbow during a June 2 start at Fenway Park, and he specifically remembers laboring during an at-bat that ended with a David Ortiz two-run homer. “That whole at-bat, I remember it being a grind. I didn’t want to throw any breaking balls. I just wanted to throw fastballs.”
–Doctors took a portion of his left hamstring tendon and used it to replace the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow (the “Tommy John” part of the procedure). Generally, a tendon near the wrist is used, but that tendon was too small, Sheets said. As it is, doctors told him the key to any possible return to pitching hinges on how well his flexor tendon heals. It’s very likely Sheets will miss all of the 2011 season, as he had said prior to surgery.
–Sheets is very excited about how well the A’s young starting pitchers are performing, and he believes Trevor Cahill should earn strong consideration for the AL Cy Young Award. “I’m like y’all, I just like watching it,” he said. “They’re getting deep into games and (Geren) is letting them pitch. For me, that’s fun to watch. Their stuff’s so good.”
That’s all for now …