Willingham back in lineup, Crisp still out for A’s

Opportunity presents itself this weekend for the A’s, as they get their first crack at the first-place Texas Rangers. Texas has three lefties going in this four-game series, and I’ll be interested to see how the A’s lineup looks in those games – who plays, who sits. I suppose much of that will depend on the availability of outfielders Coco Crisp and Josh Willingham.

Willingham (back tightness) is back in left field tonight, but Crisp will miss his second game with a left quadriceps injury. Manager Bob Geren penciled Mark Ellis into the leadoff spot tonight, with David DeJesus dropping to the sixth spot. Geren has dropped DeJesus down in the lineup vs. lefties before, and if the offense clicks tonight and Crisp misses another game or two, perhaps we’ll see more of Ellis atop the lineup. But from talking to Crisp before batting practice, he doesn’t expect to be out much longer. “My leg is feeling better,” he said. “We’re going to give it one more day, I think, is their thought process.” Geren said Crisp would do some running before the game to test his leg.

–Proud papa Kurt Suzuki is back with the team and serving as DH tonight. Suzuki looks pretty beat, and Geren said he thought it might be a good idea to give him a half-day off by not catching.

–Andrew Bailey threw a bullpen session with a hitter standing in. When you read about a hitter standing in but not taking swings, I’m guessing a lot of people must think, “What’s so special about that?” Ask pitchers, however, and they’ll say that just having a hitter standing in the box gets the adrenaline pumping. That puts a little extra strain on the arm and gives a pitcher a good read on his progress if he’s coming off an arm injury, as Bailey is. Geren said that they’ll see how Bailey feels tomorrow before deciding his next step. If he feels good, a minor league rehab assignment can’t be far off. …

The lineups:
A’s – Ellis 2B, Barton 1B, Jackson RF, Willingham LF, Suzuki DH, DeJesus CF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Powell C, Pennington SS; Cahill RHP.

Rangers – Kinsler 2B, Andrus SS, Young DH, Beltre 3B, Cruz RF, Murphy LF, Torrealba C, Moreland 1B, Borbon CF; Wilson LHP.

Joe Stiglich