Checking in from Toronto, where there was a light snow flurry earlier this afternoon. A cabbie told me it was in the high 30s today, but with the wind that was whipping, I’m guessing it was even colder. The roof is closed at the Rogers Center and it’s nice and comfortable in here. Sometimes indoor baseball ain’t so bad …
–There’s nothing major to report with Dallas Braden having his start pushed back to Wednesday. Braden and manager Bob Geren both said he was simply given extra time to fine-tune some things on the mound. The lefty wanted to work on his slider particularly. “If anything, I wanted to do more work on the side,” Braden said. “It’s best to throw another bullpen (session) to make sure I’m where I wanted to be. It’s a fortunate thing to have these early off-days to manipulate and work around.”
I think a couple things are at play here: Braden was the least sharp of any of the starting pitchers during spring training, so the A’s probably want him as ready as possible for his first start. Plus, Brandon McCarthy, who was moved up a day to start tonight, hasn’t pitched in 10 days, and you’ve got to think McCarthy was happy to get back on the mound sooner rather than later. I’ll be interested to see how he fares tonight given that abnormally long layoff.
–A familiar face leads off for the Blue Jays tonight – Rajai Davis. But Jose Bautista, last year’s major league home run champ, is out of the lineup for a personal matter. And there’s thought he could miss the entire series. As for the A’s lineup, there’s lots of changes against Toronto left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes:
A’s: Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Jackson LF, Willingham DH, Ellis 2B, DeJesus RF, Suzuki C, Kouzmanoff 3B, LaRoche SS; McCarthy RHP.
Jays: Davis CF, Escobar SS, Lind 1B, Hill 2B, Rivera RF, Encarnacion DH, Snider LF, Nix 3B, Molina C; Reyes LHP.
–Hideki Matsui gets his first game off, and David DeJesus drops down from the third to the sixth spot to get some right-handed hitters higher. Geren said he wanted to get Conor Jackson in, though I don’t know how fired up A’s fans will be to see Jackson in the ‘3’ hole. “He’s one of our better hitters historically against lefties,” Geren said. “I’d like to get him in there as much as possible against lefties.” Jackson is a career .294 hitter vs. southpaws, .269 against right-handers.
The right-handed hitting Andy LaRoche draws a start at shortstop in place of Cliff Pennington. I can’t help but think what’s going through LaRoche’s head right now. He entered spring camp having never played shortstop in a major league game, and now he’s starting there. “I told him he just has to make the routine plays,” Geren said. “He’s got a great arm. All he has to do is catch it.”
This offense didn’t knock my socks off in the Seattle series, so I don’t think it’s a bad thing to get some new people in there for a game. Geren said Matsui will play Wednesday and Thursday, and that DeJesus would probably sit Thursday.
That’s all for now …