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Is A’s lineup a preview of opening night?

Back in the saddle after a few days off to refresh, and I returned to find the warm weather you’d expect in Phoenix this time of year. Temperatures will be in the 80s for much of this week, so shorts and T-shirts are in order for anyone planning to visit.

–A’s manager Bob Geren penciled in what appears very close to an opening night lineup today against the Colorado Rockies, the first time we’ve seen such a look this spring. And we’ll start to see more of it, Geren said, with the A’s entering their final two weeks of Cactus League play …

A’s
Crisp CF
Barton 1B
DeJesus RF
Willingham LF
Matsui DH
Suzuki C
Ellis 2B
Kouzmanoff 3B
Pennington SS

Cahill RHP

And the Rockies’ lineup, featuring some names of note in the 3-4 spots:

Young 2B
Taveras CF
C. Gonzalez LF
Giambi DH
Spilborghs RF
Jacobs 1B
Iannetta C
Iribarren SS
Herrera 3B

Nicasio RHP

–That’s an interesting bottom third of the order for the A’s. Kouzmanoff in the eighth spot? I’ve had him sixth or seventh in the lineups I’ve hashed out in my mind, but it’s certainly possible he could hit eighth. Geren didn’t indicate how much we should read into today’s order, top to bottom …

–Daric Barton (calf bruise) returns to first base after missing the past six games. But with the season opener less than three weeks away, it’s worth keeping an eye on a couple injuries in the bullpen. Joey Devine says his throwing session was cut short yesterday due to irritation in his biceps, and not anything having to do with his elbow. He’s calling it normal “dead-arm” stuff that he attributes to his prolonged inactivity over the past couple years. “My elbow feels great,” Devine said. “It’s all in my biceps. The only way to get through this period is to keep throwing. It’s been two years, and my body has forgotten how to do this.” He’ll take today off and throw long toss Monday, and if that goes well, Devine thinks he’ll be back on the mound soon. But he did say that the biceps issue has thrown his mechanics off a bit, and you have to think the A’s will be cautious in working him back into games considering his injury history. I don’t think it’s a slam dunk at all that Devine breaks camp with the club, particularly if he misses, say, a week’s worth of games or more.

There’s still no timetable for fellow reliever Craig Breslow to appear in his first game as he works back from a hamstring injury. He remains confident he’ll be ready for the season, noting that he had logged very few innings last spring (when he had elbow problems) and still was OK for the regular season. No reason to sound alarms yet, but if I’m Geren, I’d feel a lot better when I actually see Breslow in a game. Bullpen depth is a strength for the A’s, and perhaps they’ll be tapping into it sooner than expected …

That’s all for now …

Joe Stiglich