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Surprise! It feels like a regular-season game

The A’s are in Surprise, AZ, today for their first of many meetings this year with the AL champion Texas Rangers, a team they’d like nothing more than to dethrone. Manager Bob Geren noticed that Ron Washington pretty much sent out his A lineup against Oakland — minus injured third baseman Adrian Beltre (right calf strain). Wash making an early statement of AL West supremacy, perhaps? Then the Rangers promptly scored five in the first, albeit with a help of a two-base, bases-loaded error in which starter Dallas Braden and shortstop Steve Tolleson both missed chances at a double play.

Yes, the Rangers lost out on Cliff Lee, but they still have a hell of a lineup, perhaps even better now that they’ve added Beltre. That more than makes up for the loss of DH Vlad Guerrero, where Michael Young appears to have finally accepted that role. The Angels also added Mike Napoli, who gives them a little flexibility. It should be a fascinating matchup all year, but the A’s aren’t awed by Texas. They finished 9-10 against them and would have won the season series against the Rangers if they hadn’t been swept in the a 3-game home series late in the year. Trevor Cahill beat them three times, Gio Gonzalez twice.

Here’s the lineup today, a bit late with some other stuff I’m working on getting in the way:

Oak: 2B Ellis, CF DeJesus, 1B Jackson, DH Matsui, 3B Kouzmanoff, RF Sweeney, LF Carter, C Powell, SS Tolleson. Braden on the mound to start.

Tex: 2B Kinsler, SS Andrus, CF Hamilton, RF Cruz, 1B Young, DH Napoli, LF Murphy, C Torrealba, 3B C. Davis. Derek Holland started for Rangers

I’m the kiss of good luck. Reporting Michael Taylor’s poor at-bats on Monday, Taylor responded Tuesday with a nice game, a couple of hits including a two-run homer to right-center. The HR was crushed on a line, Canseco-like. Don’t give up on him yet.

Medical report: Reliever Michael Wuertz had a 20-pitch bullpen session Wednesday and manager Bob Geren could be in a game by Saturday …. First baseman Daric Barton (calf contusion) was held out another day, but Geren said he’ll play Thursday … Ryan Sweeney made his spring debut in right Wednesday … Closer Andrew Bailey will make his game debut Thursday … Craig Breslow is day-to-day with a hamstring strain. He was supposed to pitch Thursday, but Geren said that won’t happen and isn’t sure when he’ll be back on the mound.

Carl Steward