1

Tyson Ross gets Friday start vs. Seattle; Dallas Braden visiting Dr. Yocum in Los Angeles

A’s manager Bob Geren confirmed what had seemed likely: Tyson Ross will start Friday vs. Seattle in Dallas Braden’s place. How long will he remain in the rotation? That depends on the severity of Braden’s shoulder injury. Braden is flying to Southern California on Wednesday to be examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum. The A’s have sent several pitchers to Yocum to be examined over the years. Sometimes a long-term injury is revealed, sometimes it turns out to be minor. Braden wasn’t available in the clubhouse before batting practice, though he is at the ballpark.

Ross made the team last season as a reliever, got a couple of spot starts in place of Justin Duchscherer, and then struggled after he was put back in the bullpen, eventually getting sent down to Triple-A Sacramento. I’d like to see this guy get an extended stretch as a starter, whether that’s in the majors or with Sacramento. If the A’s see his long-term potential being in the rotation, then I think that’s where he needs to pitch. He’s not so dominant out of the ‘pen that you absolutely have to pitch him there.

Ross is excited to be getting his shot to start. Michael Wuertz? Not quite so enthusiastic right now. Wuertz (strained left hamstring) says he’s ready to be activated from the DL, but the A’s are having him make a third rehab appearance Wednesday. He’ll travel to Reno to pitch for Sacramento. Wuertz had a shaky first outing for Single-A Stockton, giving up three runs, but fared better Monday. He allowed a run in one inning but struck out three. “They just told me to go down, make another appearance and go from there,” Wuertz said. “To me, I’d like to be out there right now. It’s just the way it is.” Manager Bob Geren said he wants to see how Wuertz fares pitching an inning-plus, and the A’s will decide his next step afterward.

–Got a chance to meet David Purcey, the new addition to the A’s bullpen. Nice guy … After being designated for assignment by Toronto last Tuesday, he went home to Dallas when he got word that the A’s traded for him Monday. Purcey didn’t mind the down time – his wife Kate is expecting twins, the couple’s first children …

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s – Crisp CF, Barton 1B, DeJesus RF, Willingham LF, Matsui DH, Suzuki C, Ellis 2B, Kouzmanoff 3B, Pennington SS; Anderson LHP.

Red Sox – Lowrie SS, Pedroia 2B, Gonzalez 1B, Youkilis 3B, Ortiz DH, Cameron RF, Crawford LF, Saltalamacchia C, McDonald CF; Lackey RHP.

4

Dallas Braden joins 15-day DL; A’s trade for lefty reliever David Purcey

There’s some A’s news for your Monday morning …

Dallas Braden was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder stiffness. The team acquired left-handed reliever David Purcey from Toronto in exchange for reliever Danny Farquhar, and Rich Harden was transferred from the 15-day to 60-day DL to make room on the 40-man roster for Purcey.

Purcey will join the big league bullpen, according to A’s assistant GM David Forst. So either Tyson Ross or Bobby Cramer remain the front-runners to take Braden’s spot in the rotation for now (Bob Geren mentioned Ross as a candidate yesterday). The A’s had been trying to work a trade for Purcey since Toronto designated the lefty for assignment Tuesday, Forst said. So going after him was not directly related to Braden’s injury in Saturday’s game. But it does provide depth, as the A’s likely will take Ross or Cramer from the bullpen and insert him into the rotation. Braden’s DL stint is retroactive to Sunday, meaning he would be eligible to return May 2.

Forst said the A’s didn’t know the severity of Braden’s injury based on his exam Sunday. Braden hasn’t undergone an MRI or any other tests yet. “We’re still hopeful that it’s not serious. We don’t have anything definitive as of yet,” Forst said.

Purcey, who turns 29 on Thursday, was 0-0 with an 11.57 ERA in five relief appearances with the Blue Jays this season. He made 12 starts as a rookie in 2008 and went 3-6 with a 5.54 ERA. He was Toronto’s first-round draft pick in 2004. Forst said A’s scouts clocked Purcey’s fastball in the 93-94 mph range. He’s got size — the A’s press release lists him at 6-4, 242 pounds. Farquhar had been acquired over the winter from the Jays as part of the Rajai Davis trade, so he’s going back to a familiar organization. He’d been pitching for Triple-A Sacramento thus far.

0

Reminiscing on Little League day; Dallas Braden to see doctor

It’s Little League day at the Coliseum, so there was a trail of kids making their way past the A’s dugout high-fiving Gio Gonzalez and Bobby Cramer this morning. … I have vivid memories of attending Little League day as an 8-year-old, wearing my uniform and making a lap around the field before the game. Rickey Henderson was playing left field. This was Rickey’s first stint in Oakland, when he wore No. 35. My earliest memories of going to A’s games are seeing Henderson in left field, Dwayne Murphy in center and Tony Armas in right. In Toronto recently, I got to interview Murphy, who’s now the Blue Jays hitting coach, about Rajai Davis. That was cool … Friends ask me if I get star-struck interviewing major league players. For me, it’s more the current crop of coaches around the majors that I get a thrill out of talking to. Because the guys coaching now were the ones I idolized as players when I was growing up. … Anyway, everybody’s gotta take the trip down memory lane now and then, right?

–Dallas Braden is not a happy camper right now regarding his stiff shoulder. He had very little to offer on the injury this morning. “Still sore, stiff, hurts. I’m not gonna throw.” Asked if he was holding out hope of making his next start, Braden just shook his head no. A’s manager Bob Geren said Braden would get checked by a team doctor later today, so maybe we’ll get more information after the game. Geren isn’t speculating yet on whether Braden will miss any time. And with Monday’s day off, the A’s can push Braden’s start back several days if they wish. But on first impression, it sure doesn’t seem like good news for Braden based on his demeanor. Might Tyson Ross or Bobby Cramer be in line for a stint in the rotation?

–Coco Crisp is not in the lineup. With no game Monday, the A’s want to try to give him two straight days off to rest his back. But Geren said Crisp is available if needed off the bench. David DeJesus is playing center field with Conor Jackson in right. Geren said he was considering giving Ryan Sweeney a start, but Sweeney’s hamstring tightened up as he legged out a triple last night. He’s also available if needed, but Geren didn’t want him starting.

–Somewhat lost in the shuffle with the A’s terrific starting pitching so far: The fact that Trevor Cahill has not been very sharp. He’s failed to complete five innings in two of his first three starts, so we’ll see how he fares this afternoon. Tigers starter Brad Penny is facing the A’s for just the third time in his career. He’s allowed 15 earned runs in 16 1/3 innings this season.

The lineups:

A’s – DeJesus CF, Barton 1B, Jackson RF, Willingham LF, Matsui DH, Ellis 2B, Powell C, LaRoche 3B, Pennington SS; Cahill RHP.

Tigers – Rhymes 2B, Jackson CF, Boesch DH, Cabrera 1B, Raburn LF, Kelly 3B, Peralta SS, Avila C, Wells RF; Penny RHP.

0

LaRoche might get more time at third base

Are you still wondering what to make of this A’s team? So am I … After showing signs of life on the road, the offense was silenced last night. The A’s try to even this four-game series against Detroit tonight, with Brandon McCarthy attempting to make it three straight strong starts to begin his 2011 season.

Andy LaRoche draws his second straight start at third base, and A’s manager Bob Geren said he might give LaRoche an extended look there. Kevin Kouzmanoff is hitting just .171 in 13 games and he’s made four errors. He just looks off defensively right now. “I told him guys have ups and downs fielding and have ups and downs hitting,” Geren said. “Right now he’s having a rough time with both of them. But I have confidence he’ll break out offensively and defensively, because he’s done it in the past.”

That’s not to say there won’t be any defensive adventures with LaRoche. I asked him about that ugly sacrifice fly in the eighth inning last night, when left fielder Josh Willingham caught a fly ball in left-center, fired a throw to third and no one was there covering, which allowed a second run to score on the play. LaRoche was positioned to be the cutoff man for a throw home (there were runners on second and third to start the play).

LaRoche said he wandered away from third to be cutoff man because the runner at second was not tagging up. At any rate, there was confusion on the play, and LaRoche said a game plan is in place to better handle the situation next time. With runners on second and third and less than two outs, if there’s a fly ball to left-center, one possibility is to have first baseman Daric Barton be the cutoff man, allowing the third baseman to stay at third. As we’ve seen, the A’s are likely to be in a lot of close games this season, and they can’t afford to be giving away extra runs. …

–Michael Wuertz (strained left hamstring) is scheduled to throw one inning for Single-A Stockton on Saturday. If that goes well, he might do so again Sunday. Geren said they would wait to see how Wuertz comes out of Saturday’s outing before proceeding with his next step. The right-hander has been on the DL since April 6 …

The lineups:

A’s – Crisp CF, Barton 1B, DeJesus RF, Willingham LF, Matsui DH, Ellis 2B, Suzuki C, LaRoche 3B, Pennington SS; McCarthy RHP.

Tigers – Rhymes 2B, Raburn LF, Boesch RF, Cabrera 1B, Martinez DH, Kelly CF, Inge 3B, Avila C, Santiago SS; Porcello RHP.

7

A’s flagship station, 95.7 FM, switches to all-sports format

The A’s flagship station, KBWF 95.7 FM, announced Friday that it’s switching from a country music format to an all-sports station – SportsRadio 95.7. That’s a big win for the A’s and their fans because it will mean more A’s programming throughout the day, though the station hasn’t announced a daily lineup yet. If you turn the station on right now, you’ll hear a loop of Bay Area sports highlights. But at 4 p.m., an extended A’s pregame show will begin, hosted by Chris Townsend. I’m told the pregame show won’t typically start this early, but Townsend will remain part of the daily package with his pre- and postgame show. Bottom line, the A’s will be on longer — before and after games – than they were previously on 95.7, which had been trying to shoe-horn A’s broadcasts in between the country music. The station is also the broadcast partner of the San Jose Sharks. And though Sharks games will continue airing on KFOX 98.5, the plan is to have substantial A’s and Sharks talk throughout the day on 95.7, as well as talk about the other Bay Area teams.

“We just think there’s a tremendous opportunity to grow the sports audience in the Bay Area,” said Dwight Walker, vice president and market manager for 95.7’s parent company, Entercom. “You’ve got passion, an underserved audience and teams to support that.”

Aside from the A’s buying their own station, which they tried to do with KTRB, this is the best situation for them. They’re guaranteed a bigger presence on an all-sports station. People in the radio industry talk very highly of Entercom, which owns other FM all-sports stations around the country, including WEEI in Boston, a giant in the business. One person I spoke to expects 95.7 to receive the backing to form a serious challenge to KNBR’s supremacy in the Bay Area sports radio landscape. Might 95.7 try to land the Raiders or other Bay Area teams? I could see the station making a run at it.

Certainly, the timing is right to launch a second Bay Area sports station. KTRB, the A’s previous flagship station, has an all-sports format, but it isn’t likely to stay that way considering the station is in receivership and up for sale.

I’ll be reporting more on this story as 95.7 announces its on-air hosts and programming. For now, what are your thoughts on this development, A’s fans?

3

Trippy over the trip, Coco’s new look, the usual injury updates

When the schedule first came out, the A’s opening nine-game road trip loomed large as one that could be pivotal to their entire season.

Hence, having gone 5-4 on the trip against three solid clubs _ Toronto, Minnesota and Chicago _ the A’s were in a buoyant mood returning to the Coliseum Thursday night.

“It was probably the loudest flight home I can remember in years _ in a good way,” said manager Bob Geren. “Guys were genuinely happy with the trip and how it finished.”

The A’s didn’t win their fifth road game last year until May 11 and started the year 5-13 away from home en route to a 34-47 record in opposing ballparks. Geren thinks the long early trip also helped with team bonding.

“A trip like that can do nothing but help,” he said.

——–

Coco Crisp surprised everyone when he came to the park with his hair unbraided, revealing a remarkable ’70s-style Afro former players like Oscar Gamble and Bake McBride would have been proud of.

Why the change?

“My head was itching,” Crisp said.

Crisp said he’ll keep the new hairdo look for the time being.

“Yeah, I don’t know what else to do with it … if I can get my shirt on,” he said.

——-

Infielder Adam Rosales, on the 60-day disabled list with a right foot stress fracture, got some encouraging news after a visit to Dr. Kenneth Jung, a Los Angeles orthodepic surgeon, for a CT scan Thursday. He’s 90 percent healed, and he could be cleared to play within a month.

“The CT scan from two months ago to now, there’s definitely a huge improvement,” Rosales said. “So it gives me something to be positive about.”

Rosales is only running on a treadmill now but expects to expand his regimen in 2-3 weeks to lateral footwork and baserunning.

—-

Closer Andrew Bailey, also on the disabled list, had a 25-pitch all-fastball bullpen session before the game, his second without incident. Bailey is not on a specific timetable for return yet, however.

“We’re just kind of going as I feel and progressing forward each and every day,” he said. “Today it was nice and easy, just getting the feel for the mound again.”

Reliever Michael Wuertz pitched a one-inning simulated and could get a rehab assignment in Sacramento sometime in the coming week.

——

Mark Ellis picked up a hit before the game even started. The American League office reversed a three-base error call from last Saturday’s game at Minnesota and awarded Ellis a triple. It’s his 22nd career triple, tying him with Sal Bando on the Oakland all-time list. He”s one behind three guys tied for fifth — Carney Lansford, Reggie Jackson and Billy North.

 



0

Crisp sits with back soreness as A’s try to clinch winning road trip

Today feels like one of those “swing games” for the A’s, where the outcome really shapes how you look back on this road trip. A win leaves them at 5-4, which would be a nice accomplishment for a challenging nine-game trip early in the year. A 4-5 finish wouldn’t be terrible, but the A’s don’t want the momentum from their three-game winning streak to evaporate completely. Brett Anderson takes the ball after his sharp eight-inning effort last time out against the Twins …

–Coco Crisp is not in the lineup — his back is still bothering him. A’s manager Bob Geren said Crisp felt about the same as he did last night when he left the game for a pinch hitter, so he’s getting some rest. No indication right now that this is anything to be alarmed about.

Daric Barton gets his first day off, with Andy LaRoche playing first base. Barton played in 159 of 162 games last season, and I think he could benefit from a few more off-days. But is it best to sit a guy when he’s coming off a four-hit night? Geren said it was a tough call, but added that Barton’s body was in need of a break. “He could use a day.”

–A couple of relievers knocked some rust off last night. Craig Breslow made his first appearance in 10 days, and Brad Ziegler hadn’t thrown in six. That’s a tough gig for guys who’ve been off that long to enter a tight game and be sharp. Breslow, who finished the fifth in relief of Trevor Cahill, was mad at himself for walking the leadoff man in the sixth, which led to the Sox’s tying run. Overall, Geren said he was pleased with how Breslow and Ziegler looked, and that they’d be called on more frequently. With A’s starters pitching deep in games, a few relievers are bound to have long layoffs. But I wouldn’t expect Breslow to get that much inactivity moving forward. His performance is a key to this bullpen’s effectiveness, especially with Andrew Bailey and Michael Wuertz on the DL.

Wuertz, by the way, is scheduled to throw a simulated game Thursday at the Coliseum. If that goes well, he would pitch in a minor league game Saturday. So it looks like his return won’t be far off.

Enough rambling, here’s the lineups …

A’s — DeJesus CF, Ellis 2B, Jackson RF, Willingham LF, Matsui DH, Kouzmanoff 3B, Suzuki C, LaRoche 1B, Pennington SS; Anderson LHP.

White Sox – Pierre LF, Beckham 2B, Dunn DH, Konerko 1B, Quentin RF, Rios CF, Ramirez SS, Castro C, Morel 3B; Danks LHP.

0

Willingham gets a day off (maybe), plus other A’s pregame notes

Another good pitching matchup is on tap tonight as Trevor Cahill opposes the Chicago White Sox’s Edwin Jackson. Both sport sub-2.00 ERAs …

A’s left fielder Josh Willingham gets his first day off, or as manager Bob Geren called it, his first “non-start.” “They’ve got three good lefties in the bullpen,” Geren said of the Sox. “There may be a pinch-hitting opportunity.” Ryan Sweeney draws the start in left. …

Andy LaRoche makes his second straight start at shortstop, as Cliff Pennington is out of the lineup with an infected sweat gland under his left arm. Geren listed Pennington as day-to-day. You have to count LaRoche as a pleasant early-season surprise for the A’s. He’s held his own defensively all around the infield and he’s hitting .417.

The White Sox get a major boost tonight with the return of DH Adam Dunn, who had been out since undergoing an emergency appendectomy Wednesday. The Chicago media quoted Sox manager Ozzie Guillen as saying he would be extra cautious with Dunn, giving the slugger an extra day once he said he was ready. Apparently that plan went out the window. Dunn, who signed a four-year, $56 million deal with the Sox in the offseason, is hitting .286 with one homer and five RBIs.

Here’s a story on the injury to Texas left fielder Josh Hamilton, which has major implications for the rest of the AL West. The A’s begin play tonight tied for second place with the Angels, four games back of Texas …

The lineups:
A’s – Crisp CF, Barton 1B, DeJesus RF, Matsui DH, Suzuki C, Sweeney LF, Ellis 2B, Kouzmanoff 3B, LaRoche SS; Cahill RHP.

White Sox – Pierre LF, Vizquel 2B, Dunn DH, Konerko 1B, Quentin RF, Rios CF, Pierzynski C, Ramirez SS, Teahen 3B; Jackson RHP.

0

A’s lock up another starter: Trevor Cahill signs five-year extension

Checking in from Chicago, where the A’s begin a three-game series against the White Sox …

Right-hander Trevor Cahill signed a five-year contract extension today worth a guaranteed $30.5 million, meaning the A’s have two of their top young starters locked up with long-term deals. They signed Brett Anderson to a four-year, $12.5 million last April. Cahill’s contract kicks in with this season and runs through 2015, with the A’s holding a $13 million club option for 2016 and a $13.5 million option on 2017. Cahill could have been eligible for free agency following the 2014 season, so he’s potentially giving up three seasons of free agency if the A’s pick up his options. However, if that happens, Cahill will be collecting $57 million over seven seasons, which is a large chunk of money.

The A’s could have saved lots of money locking up Cahill around the same time they signed Anderson. Cahill went on to make the All-Star team last season and won 18 games, driving his price up. But I don’t blame them for not acting that quickly. They had no idea what they had in Cahill at the time Anderson signed. “This is always sort of a guessing game for when the club makes a commitment or when the player makes a commitment,” A’s GM Billy Beane said. He added: “I would probably say in all my years here, I don’t’ know that I’ve seen somebody make such great strides in such a brief amount of time as Trevor.”

–Here’s tonight’s lineups, with Conor Jackson starting in right field and Andy LaRoche playing shortstop against lefty Mark Buehrle.

A’s: Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Jackson RF, Willingham LF, Ellis 2B, Matsui DH, Suzuki C, Kouzmanoff 3B, LaRoche SS. Braden LHP

White Sox: Pierre LF, Beckham 2B, Rios CF, Konerko 1B, Quentin DH, Ramirez SS, Morel 3B, Castro C, Lillibridge RF; Buehrle LHP.

–Good news for the A’s: Andrew Bailey threw from the mound for the first time since going on the DL, and his forearm felt good after his 20-pitch session. He’ll throw again in 2-3 days. Bad news for the A’s: Rich Harden felt soreness in his right side while warming up, and his live batting practice session was scratched. He won’t get back on the mound for the time being. That lat muscle is the same problem area that landed him on the DL to begin with (though the A’s list the injury as a shoulder strain) …

That’s all for now …

1

David DeJesus hits leadoff, Ryan Sweeney in right field for series finale vs. Twins

So far, so good on the weather at Target Field. It’s windy and cloudy, but no sign of rain moving in as the A’s wrap up batting practice. First pitch is 1:10 p.m. local time, and forecasts call for a 25 percent chance of rain by 3 p.m. …

Kurt Suzuki and Coco Crisp are each getting their first days off today, with Landon Powell behind the plate and Ryan Sweeney drawing a start in right field. David DeJesus shifts over to center field and is batting leadoff. Manager Bob Geren said he likes Sweeney’s strong arm in right field, and that Sweeney and DeJesus are about equal in center field defensively. DeJesus is no stranger to the leadoff spot, having made 636 starts there over his seven-plus major league seasons. He’s batted first far more times than any other spot in the lineup.

Geren raved about the drives Hideki Matsui was hitting in batting practice this morning. But the A’s need this guy to start doing it in games. He’s hitting just .160 with no homers and three RBIs. Geren wouldn’t say if Matsui would start Monday against White Sox lefty Mark Buehrle, but he did say right-handed hitters Conor Jackson and Andy LaRoche would. Don’t be surprised if one of them serves as DH tomorrow – or perhaps Josh Willingham – with Matsui sitting.

The lineups:
A’s: DeJesus CF, Barton 1B, Willingham LF, Matsui DH, Sweeney RF, Ellis 2B, Kouzmanoff 3B, Powell C, Pennington SS; McCarthy RHP.

Twins: Span CF, Mauer C, Morneau 1B, Thome DH, Young LF, Kubel RF, Cuddyer 2B, Valencia 3B, Casilla SS; Baker RHP.