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Ben Sheets update: Tommy John surgery was included in Monday’s procedure

It turns out Ben Sheets’ road back to a major league mound will be tougher than expected. The A’s announced that Sheets had reconstruction surgery on his ulnar collateral ligament (a.k.a. Tommy John surgery) as part of an extensive procedure done Monday on his right elbow. Originally, Sheets said he only needed flexor tendon surgery, which he figured would sideline him for all of 2011. Recovery from Tommy John surgery typically takes 12 to 18 months, so it figures that he could miss the start of the 2012 campaign as well. He also had the pronator tendon repaired in his elbow.

Sheets, 32, wasn’t even certain he’d be able to come back from the flexor tendon procedure, so now it stands to reason he faces even longer odds of being able to pitch again. That’s sad to hear for a guy who’s still relatively young, but when Sheets spoke on a media conference call two weeks ago, he seemed to have a healthy outlook on his future, whether it includes baseball or not …

–There’s not much else to report from the A’s clubhouse. Kurt Suzuki gets a start at DH with Landon Powell catching, and Adam Rosales draws a start at shortstop against lefty Luke French.

–Conor Jackson will join Single-A Stockton tonight and play seven innings in the outfield, so his comeback from a hamstring injury is kicking into gear at long last.

The roof is open on a gorgeous day here in Seattle, perfect for baseball. Here’s the lineups:

A’s — Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Suzuki DH, Kouzmanoff 3B, Rosales SS, Ellis 2B, Davis RF, Carter LF, Powell C; Braden LHP.

Mariners — Ichiro RF, Figgins 2B, Lopez 3B, Branyan DH, Gutierrez CF, Kotchman 1B, Bard C, Tuiasosopo LF, Wilson SS; French LHP.

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Daric Barton returns to first base — can A’s offense rebound against King Felix?

The A’s are back to a more familiar lineup tonight, as Daric Barton returns to the No. 2 spot in the order and Rajai Davis moves back to the seventh slot. Chris Carter is hitting eighth, one spot lower than last night. Regardless of who hits where, the A’s need to find a way to get runners home from scoring position. It won’t be the easiest task tonight against Felix Hernandez. … Call this a “swing” game. If the A’s win, things suddenly look more promising and they’re in position to win the series. If they lose, it won’t matter what happens tomorrow, they’re going to be in bad shape rolling into a weekend series with a tough Minnesota team.

–Quick injury updates: Closer Andrew Bailey (rib cage strain) has felt very good throwing the past couple of days, though he still doesn’t know when he’ll throw off the mound. … Outfielder Conor Jackson (right hamstring) played five innings last night in the Arizona Rookie League and will DH tonight. He won’t come off the DL until he’s up to playing nine innings, but things seem to be progressing well. Where does he fit in when he returns, and what will that mean for Carter? We’ll find out …

–Ben Sheets had surgery yesterday on his right elbow, performed by Dallas-based doctor Keith Meister. Though manager Bob Geren didn’t have many details, it sounds like it was more involved than expected. In addition to fixing his flexor tendon, Sheets also had repairs done on his pronator tendon and ulnar collateral ligament, Geren said. We haven’t gotten specific information on what this means for Sheets’ timetable for recovery. As he said two weeks ago on a conference call, he’s unsure whether his elbow will recover enough to allow him to pitch again.

Tonight’s lineups …
A’s — Crisp CF, BArton 1B, Suzuki C, Cust DH, Kouzmanoff 3B, Ellis 2B, Davis RF, Carter LF, Pennington SS; Anderson LHP.

Mariners — Ichiro RF, Figgins 2B, Lopez DH, Gutierrez CF, Kotchman 1B, Moore C, Langerhans LF, Tuiasosopo 3B, Wilson SS; Hernandez RHP.

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More on Chris Carter and other A’s pregame notes

A little follow-up on Chris Carter’s major league debut and other A’s news …

–Carter is starting in left field and batting seventh tonight in the series opener against Seattle. Surely, if he turns into the hitter the A’s expect, Carter won’t see many games in the No. 7 hole. But this takes a little pressure off him since the expectations are understandably high for the player ranked as the A’s top prospect.

Manager Bob Geren said he envisions Carter seeing all of his time in left field for now, though he wouldn’t give a direct answer when asked if Carter would play every day. Whatever … There’s no way this guy was called up to sit on the bench. You figure he’s going to start every day unless he struggles mightily. Daric Barton is not in the lineup, so Jeff Larish (also promoted with Carter) gets the nod at first tonight. Barton, who injured his left trapezius muscle (between the shoulder and neck) and left yesterday’s game, said he’s feeling better and that he’s available to pinch hit. Regardless, Geren says Carter isn’t likely to play first with Barton and Larish both on the roster.

Carter is one of the most soft-spoken players I know, but he couldn’t keep the smile off his face while talking to reporters today. And he probably said more in his five-minute chat than in every past interview I’ve done with him combined. He said he could barely sleep last night, having already gotten the news he’d be flying out this morning to join the big club. As for his steady improvement at the plate with Triple-A Sacramento: “It was just getting adjusted to how people pitched me, and getting adjusted to the league. I’m feeling good now.” Geren feels Carter can handle left field fine, even though he just started playing there regularly about two weeks ago. A’s outfield coach Todd Steverson took Carter out to the field early for a little individual instruction before batting practice.

–Other notes: Andrew Bailey had a good throwing session today, Geren said. … Adam Rosales, battling tendinitis in his right ankle, is available off the bench.

Here’s the lineups … and I gotta say that just seeing Carter’s name in there makes Oakland’s starting nine look a little more formidable:
A’s — Crisp CF, Davis RF, Suzuki C, Cust DH, Kouzmanoff 3B, Ellis 2B, Carter LF, Larish 1B, Pennington SS; Mazzaro RHP.

Mariners — Ichiro RF, Figgins 2B, Kotchman 1B, Branyan DH, Gutierrez CF, Lopez 3B, Langerhans LF, Moore C, Wilson SS; Fister RHP.

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A’s promote No. 1 prospect Chris Carter

The A’s officially announced that top prospect Chris Carter has been promoted from Triple-A Sacramento and will be in uniform for tonight’s game at Seattle. Recently acquired infielder Jeff Larish was also called up while Matt Watson was placed on the 15-day DL with kidney stones and Matt Carson was optioned to Sacramento.

How’s that for adding some spice to this six-game road trip? I haven’t seen the lineup yet, but I’d assume Carter will be starting in left field (perhaps first base if Daric Barton isn’t ready to go).

That’s the big news in A’s land … The Mariners have plenty going on with the firing of manager Don Wakamatsu. Bench coach Ty Van Burkleo also was dismissed as part of Seattle’s house-cleaning. Both Wakamatsu and Van Burkleo served on the A’s coaching staff in 2008 (Van Burkleo arrived in 2007, Wakamatsu a year later).

I’ll have more later. Gotta run down to the clubhouse …

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A’s set to bring up Chris Carter

Joe Stiglich is on his way to Seattle as the A’s beging their road trip vs. the Mariners, so passing this along for him.

It looks as if Chris Carter could make his long-awaited A’s debut Monday night in Seattle. CSN Bay Area is reporting that the A’s will promote the slugging first baseman/outfielder to help fill the void created by two more Oakland injuries Sunday — 1B Daric Barton (left shoulder spasms) and OF Matt Watson (likely suffering from kidney stones).
Carter, who is hitting .262 with 27 home runs and 89 RBIs, was unexpectedly pulled from the River Cats’ lineup after driving in a run in his first at-bat during Sunday’s 11-7 loss to Round Rock.
In addition, CSN Bay Area reported that the A’s are also likely to bring up first baseman Jeff Larish from Sacramento. Larish is a former Detroit Tiger who was claimed off waivers recently. Larish, a Jack Cust-esque hitter, for lack of a better comparison, hit three home runs and drove in 10 runs in Sacramento’s doubleheader Friday.
Since infielder Adam Rosales (ankle tendinitis) is hurting just like Barton and Watson, the A’s have three candidates for the DL in order to make room for Carter and Larish.
Carter has been riding a torrid streak since the Triple-A All-Star break, hitting .362 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs in 25 games. During his streak, Carter’s on-base percentage has been .459 and he’s slugged at .691 for an OPS of 1.151.
Carter got off to a slow start in Sacramento after a breakthrough 2009 season for Double-A Midland that saw him capture Texas League Player of the Year honors for hitting .329 with 28 home runs and 115 RBIs.
Carter was acquired in the Dan Haren trade in December of 2007, along with Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Dana Eveland, Greg Smith and Aaron Cunningham. Carter and Anderson are the only two who remain property of the A’s.

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UFC star Randy Couture drops by batting practice; Andrew Bailey update and other A’s bits

There’s a non-baseball celebrity watching batting practice here at the Oakland Coliseum, and we’re not talking Brad or Angelina. Ultimate Fighting Championship star Randy Couture is throwing out today’s first pitch, and he’s down on the field chatting with Kevin Kouzmanoff and Daric Barton as I write this. Barton is a huge UFC fan and will catch Couture’s pitch. There’s a UFC card next door at Oracle Arena tonight, which brings Couture to town. I have to admit I don’t follow UFC and wouldn’t recognize Couture if I passed him on the street. But the dude’s got a couple cauliflower ears that give away his profession. Seriously, I don’t think he could fit a Q-Tip in either ear.

I suppose you came here looking for A’s news, right? …

–From talking to Andrew Bailey today, I’m thinking he could miss another couple of weeks. Back when he got his MRI, Bailey said he was told his strained rib-cage injury typically takes four to six weeks to heal. He suffered the injury July 20, so he’s about 2 1/2 weeks into it. You can do the math … “Trying to come back earlier is tough to do, but that’s what I’m trying to do,” Bailey said. He could try playing catch again Sunday, according to manager Bob Geren. Bailey says he’s just coming in each day and taking cues from the training staff on when he’s going to throw.

–Rich Harden takes the hill for the Rangers, trying to follow up on his May 3 outing at the Coliseum, when he threw seven shutout innings. But that A’s lineup featured four starters who aren’t even on the current active roster (Ryan Sweeney, Eric Chavez, Eric Patterson and Josh Donaldson). So we’ll see if things shake out differently this time.

–Dallas Braden was pitching last night just a couple of days after having a wisdom tooth pulled, Geren said. That was part of the reason Braden came out when he did, though Geren said Braden’s tank was nearly empty anyway. The manager doesn’t expect Braden’s next start — Wednesday at Seattle — to be affected.

–Outfielder Conor Jackson will actually play his first rehab game Sunday, not today, in the Arizona Rookie League … Joey Devine and Josh Outman, both making the long road back from Tommy John surgery, are on a similar throwing program right now, Geren said. There’s no word on when either pitcher will get on the mound.

Here’s your lineups:

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

Rangers — Andrus SS, Young 3B, Hamilton CF, Guerrero DH, Cruz RF, Cantu 1B, Murphy LF, Guzman 2B, Teagarden C; Harden RHP.

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Andrew Bailey plays catch, return date still unknown

Not a whole lot to report from the A’s pregame scene … Andrew Bailey played catch at 60 feet, and he’s likely to play catch again at a longer distance before he gets on the mound. So there’s no clear timetable for when he’ll come off the DL. But this weekend appears a little optimistic …

Here’s your lineups:

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

Royals — Getz 2B, Aviles 3B, Butler DH, Guillen RF, Ka’aihue 1B, Pena C, Gordon LF, Maier CF, Betancourt SS; O’Sullivan RHP.

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Lineups and notes before A’s-Royals, Game 2

Greetings from the baseball field/Hollywood movie set that is the Oakland Coliseum …

More “Moneyball” filming took place this afternoon, including a re-creation of the 2002 Opening Day ceremonies. Lots of players caught glimpses of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie playing with their children on the field once afternoon filming was completed. I have yet to spot either myself. But word is, scenes are still being shot throughout the Coliseum this evening. People are getting “Sshhh”‘ed as the doors open at different floors on the press box elevator, so the Hollywood magic is happening somewhere close by.

As for A’s news …

–Andrew Bailey said he’d play catch tomorrow to test his strained rib-cage. That will be the first time in nearly a week that he’s tried throwing. He mentioned Friday as a possible day for him to throw from the mound, but he said the training staff will have the final say on how quickly he progresses. It’s tough to speculate right now on when he’ll come off the DL.

–At long last, outfielder Conor Jackson (strained right hamstring) may be close to playing in games. Manager Bob Geren said Jackson is sprinting now. He’d been doing all baseball activity except running full speed.

–The A’s claimed infielder Jeff Larish off waivers from the Detroit Tigers and assigned him to Triple-A Sacramento. Larish ,27, was a big-time prospect not that long ago, getting named the Tigers’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2007. He can play either corner infield spot. Considering the A’s made room for him on the 40-man roster by designating for assignment Adam Heether — who had been seeing lots of action at third base — perhaps Larish will get playing time there.

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

Royals — Getz 2B, Kendall C, Butler 1B, Guillen DH, Betemit 3B, Gordon LF, Maier RF, Betancourt SS, Blanco CF; Davies RHP.

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Lights! Camera! Let’s do another take!

 The filming of “Moneyball” continues today at the Coliseum, giving us novices a glimpse of how involved (and tedious) it is to make a movie. Right now, Greg Papa and Glen Kuiper are in a booth right next to the press box discussing the 2002 Opening Day game against the Rangers (sounds like Papa is going to be given a few actual lines to say in the movie other than giving the play-by-play).

Earlier today, they shot a scene on the field where Art Howe comes out of the dugout to take Tim Hudson out of the game and bring in Chad Bradford. I saw them shoot the same scene three times after I arrived at 2:45 p.m., but they wrapped things up on the field by 3 p.m.

Your 2002 A’s lineup, just in case you’re curious – Jeremy Giambi LF, Randy Velarde 2B, Scott Hatteberg DH, David Justice RF, Eric Chavez 3B, Miguel Tejada SS, Terrence Long CF, Ramon Hernandez C, Carlos Pena 1B, Mark Mulder P.

Tejada hitting sixth? Really, Art Howe? Really?

As for the 2010 A’s, closer Andrew Bailey (rib strain) will not throw for at least two or three more days. Bob Geren said that likely rules Bailey out for Friday’s opener against Texas, but it’s still possible he’ll be available for Saturday or Sunday.

Ben Sheets was in the A’s clubhouse Monday afternoon and said he’ll have surgery to repair the torn flexor tendon on his right elbow next week in Dallas.   

The A’s lineup (2010 version) – Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Suzuki C, Cust DH, Kouzmanoff 3B, Rosales 2B, Davis LF, Watson RF, Pennington SS, Cahill P.

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Sunday pregame news and lineups for A’s-White Sox finale

The A’s lineup has a unique look to say the least. Must be a Sunday afternoon game. Coco Crisp and Kurt Suzuki have the day off with a day game after a night game, so Rajai Davis assumes the leadoff role and Landon Powell draws a start. Jack Cust is hitting third and Cliff Pennington is in the seventh spot.

Manager Bob Geren said Crisp is just getting a normal day of rest and that he’s fine physically. But in watching Crisp throw from the outfield lately, I’m not so sure. He’s barely putting anything behind his throws back to the infield, which makes me wonder if his surgically repaired right shoulder is doing OK. He took a hard crash into the wall (leading with his right shoulder) during the Rangers series and seemed to be a bit shaken up after, though he stayed in the game. Even before then, he wasn’t throwing the ball well. This is all speculation based on my own observation. I didn’t get a chance to chat w/him this morning.

–Just a nutty side note: The chef who runs the show in the White Sox’s press dining room is one tough hombre. He stands behind the food with a stern look on his face as he waits to serve you and does not allow you to come through for seconds. He very much reminds me of the “Soup Nazi” character from that one “Seinfield” episode. Sure enough, when I walked in for the first time this series, there was a big sign hanging on the wall behind him, with a picture of a mean-looking chef and the words “No soup for you!” right next to him.

Obviously, I’m not the only one this man has made an impression with. … I enjoy his food though, I’ll say that …

Today’s lineups:

A’s — Davis CF, Barton 1B, Cust DH, Kouzmanoff 3B, Ellis 2B, Powell C, Pennington SS, Watson LF, Carson RF; Gonzalez LHP.

White Sox — Pierre DH, Ramirez SS, Rios CF, Konerko 1B, Quentin RF, Castro C, Viciedo 3B, Jones LF, Lillibridge 2B; Floyd RHP.