Slumping Daric Barton to get day(s) off to figure things out

Daric Barton did not start Tuesday, and A’s manager Bob Geren said he might give his slumping first baseman multiple days off to work with hitting coach Gerald Perry.

Barton was hitting .206 entering Tuesday night’s game against the New York Yankees. When Barton does return, Geren said he might drop him in the order from the second spot.

Conor Jackson started at first Tuesday.

“I’m not feeling too comfortable up there,” Barton said. “I’ve never really had problems feeling comfortable. There’s a lot of things that go on in your mind when you go through something like this. It’s obviously tough, but it’s part of the game.”

Does he think sitting for a day or two will help?

“Let’s hope,” Barton said. “I mean, I’m trying everything right now. It’s good to relax for a day and not have to stress myself out.”

Designated hitter Hideki Matsui, who came in hitting .197 in May, also sat.

Geren said he’ll go “day to day” on deciding when to re-insert Matsui.
Geren wants to give Barton time to work with Perry and clear his head.

“When you’re not getting hits, you start thinking a lot,” Geren said. “You need to step back, get back to basics. He’s going to take time seeing pitches, bunting, get back to some specific drills.”

–A’s general manager Billy Beane said in an espn.com story that he’s instructed catcher Kurt Suzuki not to block the plate so as to avoid injury.

The story claims that Beane is the first executive to give such orders to his catcher in light of the season-ending ankle injury to Giants catcher Buster Posey.

“I said to him, ‘I don’t want you planting yourself in front of the plate waiting to get creamed. You’re an Athletic catcher — be athletic,'” Beane told ESPN.

–Right-hander Rich Harden, sidelined all season by a side muscle injury, threw off the mound for the second time. He should be facing hitters soon.

Starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy tested his injured shoulder by playing catch for the first time since going on the DL.

–The start time for Saturday’s game against Red Sox has been changed from 4:10 p.m. (PT) to 10:10 a.m. It will still air on Comcast SportsNet California.

–Infielder Adam Rosales will start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday.


Cahill tries to set tone for A’s vs. Yanks

We have the ingredients for an entertaining afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum – Trevor Cahill on the mound, facing the Yankees, in front of a big crowd, with the A’s riding a four-game winning streak. Will it live up to the billing? At the very least, the A’s have picked the right time to start playing their best baseball, with their next six games against the Yankees and Boston Red Sox, the top two teams in the AL East.

Cahill’s effort is a huge key to setting the tone for the A’s in this series. You’ll remember he got knocked around pretty good by the Yankees last season – once in Oakland and once at Yankee Stadium. Those were his first two starts against New York, and he gave up 14 earned runs in 10 innings combined. After starting the season on a six-game winning streak, Cahill has gone three starts without a victory.

–A’s manager Bob Geren said before the game that he hadn’t decided when Andrew Bailey would return to the closer’s role. Geren wanted to wait until he talked to Bailey after the reliever played catch. A key in all this: Bailey has not yet thrown on back-to-back days, and I’m sure Geren wanted to see how Bailey’s arm felt before knowing if he could count on him today.

–Infielder Adam Rosales will soon begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento, Geren said. Rosales has been playing in extended spring training games and has bounced all around the infield. So it looks like Rosales has a shot of returning by his goal of mid-June.

–I chatted w/Tyson Ross for a couple minutes before the game. He’s hoping to start throwing when the A’s are on their upcoming 10-game road trip. Ross still has some pain w/his strained oblique, particularly when he twists his body, but he says the injury is getting better.

–Nice touch by the A’s during batting practice, as players celebrated Memorial Day by wearing camouflage hats given to them by an Army task force based in Kuwait.

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

Yankees – Jeter SS, Granderson CF, Teixeira 1B, Rodriguez 3B, Cano 2B, Posada DH, Swisher RF, Gardner LF, Cervelli C; Colon RHP.


Activated Bailey won’t start out as the closer

In the lineup for Joe Stiglich today …

It’s anticlimactic news, to be sure, that Andrew Bailey was activated today and is available to pitch. Billy Beane told me Friday it would happen if he had a good outing that night, which he did. Of course, Bailey was here Saturday and Bobby Cramer packed up and left, which made it academic.

But the fact that Bailey is finally on the active roster is nonetheless momentous. He’s going to make a bullpen that’s really hitting its stride that much stronger. Bob Geren has so many options, particularly when his starters can pitch into the seventh, that Bailey won’t have to feel pressured to jump right back into the closer role. And the A’s don’t want him doing that anyway, since he didn’t do that in any of his rehab appearances in Sacramento and still hasn’t yet pitched on back-to-back days, which a closer realistically needs to be able to do.

“We’re obviously pleased that he’s back. It makes a good bullpen even better,” said Geren. “Off the bat, I’ll use him in non-save situations. We’ll start with one and go from there and find out how he looks, how he feels. When he’s ready to assume the closer’s job, I’ll give it back to him. He’ll pitch in a non-closer role until I’m comfortable with him closing.”
Geren didn’t say how many outings Bailey might need to be ready for the ninth inning. He said he wouldn’t necessarily put Bailey in an earlier inning low-pressure situation just to get him comfortable.
“The game dictates it,” the manager said. “We have to get him in there and keep him in sharp. And we also have to get him an inning or two or three, whatever it takes, to get him where he feels 100 percent ready. He has not gone back-to-back, either, and that’s something we have to monitor and establish when he can do that.”
Bailey is fine with that program. He’s been careful all along in his rehab work, and said he actually might have been able to come up soon but wanted to make sure he was mentally prepared for pitching in the big leagues as well being physically ready.

“As far as my role here, whenever the phone rings and my name is called, that’s when I’ll go out there and pitch,” he said. “I think Bob’s going to try to get my feet wet a little bit with some regular game action before we make a decision on the closer’s role. As far as going back to back, it’s up in the air right now. I think it’s going to be a day-to-day type of thing. Obviously I haven’t done that in the minor leagues. But I think for them it was more important for them to have me back and we can go day to day with how I feel.”

Bailey said he talked with Geren by phone while the A’s were in Anaheim and actually asked for an extra outing in Sacramento Friday night.

” I expressed that I needed one more just to get over the hump of getting in a game and focusing on command as opposed to how I felt,” he said. “I’d rather do that in Triple-A than here and not hurt the team. I think after my second or third outing I was ready, but maybe do one more just to make sure the confidence was there and being able to focus on getting outs.”

Probably a pretty good chance we’ll see Bailey today.

The A’s made a minor trade, dealing infielder Steve Tolleson to San Diego for cash considerations. Tolleson hit .286 in 25 games for Oakland last year after hitting .332 in Sacramento. He was hitting .284 for the RiverCats this year and had not played in Oakland.


Here are the lineups. With lefty Zach Britton throwing for Baltimore, Hideki Matsui is on the bench. Josh Willingham’s the DH today, with Conor Jackson in LF.

A’s: CF Crisp, 1B Barton, LF Jackson, DH Willingham, C Suzuki, ,RF DeJesus, 2B Ellis, 3B Kouzmanoff, SS Pennington. P Moscoso

Balt: LF Pie, CF Jones, RF Markakis, DH Guerrero, C Wieters, 1B Scott, SS Hardy, 3B Reynolds, 2B Andino. P Britton.










No Andrew Bailey roster move yet; the tarp comes out as rain falls at Coliseum

UPDATE: The rain started falling harder at about 5:35, and the Orioles cut batting practice short as the tarps came out. I’ll update later if tonight’s start looks in jeopardy.


Is this really Memorial Day weekend? The weather feels more like a Raider game in November. It’s chilly, and a light rain came down as the A’s took batting practice. But if forecasts are right, the rain shouldn’t affect tonight’s 7:05 game. This is the A’s first fireworks night, which typically would draw a bigger crowd. But I’d think the lousy weather might keep some people away …

–There’s no word on when Andrew Bailey will be activated, but he said he feels sharp and ready to come off the DL. Bailey threw last night and said his command all around was better. “I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes. That what I was fighting (before),” Bailey said. He played catch before batting practice, and manager Bob Geren said no decision had been made yet. You figure that if Bailey isn’t an option to pitch tonight after throwing last night, , there’s no use in activating him until Sunday.

Bailey seemed really happy to get reacquainted with Joey Devine in the clubhouse. Bailey was not with the team on the last road trip, when Devine rejoined the team. It’s amazing to think just how much time Devine missed with his elbow injury. His teammates just haven’t had much of a chance to be around him. At any rate, when Bailey returns, the A’s will be stacked in right-handed relievers.

–Nothing much to report yet on Tyson Ross or Brandon McCarthy. Neither has started throwing yet, Geren said.

–Kevin Kouzmanoff is back at third base after missing six games with a right groin strain. This A’s lineup should look familiar – it’s the opening day starting nine – but we haven’t seen it in a while …

–There’s a local boy on the mound for Baltimore – right-hander Brad Bergesen, who was a Foothill High School teammate of the Giants’ Brandon Crawford.

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

Orioles: Andino 3B, Jones CF, Markakis RF, Guerrero DH, Reimold LF, Hardy SS, Reynolds 1B, Adams 2B, Tatum C; Bergesen RHP.


Bailey return near, A’s get a player they’ve coveted, Braden makes park appearance, etc.

In for Joe Stiglich tonight …

The A’s solved a roster dilemma and acquired a player they’ve coveted for some time in one transaction Friday, acquiring infielder Scott Sizemore from Detroit in exchange for left-hander David Purcey.

General manager Billy Beane said closer Andrew Bailey would be activated this weekend as long as there were no setbacks with Bailey’s Friday night rehab outing with Triple-A Sacramento, and we’ll update when his numbers are available.

With a surplus of relievers, they were going to have to make a decision on Purcey, who is out of options. Hence, they effectively acquired Sizemore for a player they quite likely would have designated for assignment.

Sizemore will report to Sacramento, where Beane said he will play third base. He was primarily a second baseman with Detroit.

“He’s hit well enough in his career where he could be an every day guy there,” Beane said. “He’s a guy we’ve always liked. We’ve asked about him for two years and finally (the Tigers) acquiesed.

Sizemore began the season at Triple-A Toledo and hit .408 in 23 games with two home runs and 15 RBIs. He was leading the International League in batting and on-base percentage (.495) when the Tigers recalled him on May 3. He hit .222 in 17 starts at second base with Detroit.

Purcey pitched well for Oakland in the brief time he was here (he was acquired from Toronto on April 18), posting a 2.13 ERA in 12 2/3 innings over nine appearances. But Craig Breslow, Brian Fuentes and Bobby Cramer (who was recalled to take Purcey’s place), the A’s are well-stocked with left-handed relievers.


Pitcher Dallas Braden made his first appearance the ballpark since he departed an April 16 game with a shoulder problem that subsequently required season-ending surgery on May 17.

Braden, who serves as a national spokesman for melanoma cancer awareness (his mother died of the disease), took part in a pre-game ceremony for his cause. He admitted it would be too difficult for him to stick around to watch the game, however.

“I haven’t watched a baseball game since the day I came out,” he said. “It’s tough very tough.”

Braden said there is little he can do now and has no timetable to begin his rehabilitation.

“Just R&R and let the body do its thing,” he said. “I don’t worry about the things I can’t control. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.”

Asked about his long-term expectations, Braden added, “Come back and throw baseballs and help the team win. That’s the expectation. It doesn’t matter where.”


Coco Crisp was not in the lineup but was just getting a day’s rest after playing in eight straight games along with the expectation that he’ll play the rest of the homestand.


Lew Wolff discusses Bob Geren

A’s co-owner Lew Wolff addressed questions about manager Bob Geren before Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. Here’s some highlights from the Q & A:

**Is there any concern when a player says his manager has communication problems?

“No. It’s part of life. I don’t like the word communication because it usually takes two people.”

**how do you feel Geren’s communication is?
“I think Bob’s fantastic. He’s got two sons who are about the same age, not quite as old as our (players), but close. I like the way he deals with everybody.”

****On the perception that GM Billy Beane shows favoritism toward Geren based on their friendship:

“Just the opposite. Billy delayed Bob’s career because he was worried about things like that, which I thought was silly. Billy’s goal is to win ballgames. I don’t think (their friendship) has one thing to do with it.”

***how do you assess Geren’s in-game management?

“I’ve only been doing this for six years, but of all the (managers) I’ve been exposed to, which has been pretty narrow, I think Bob’s fine, terrific.”


Geren, Fuentes try putting drama behind them; Balfour new A’s closer

A’s manager Bob Geren and reliever Brian Fuentes cleared the air in a pregame conversation inside Geren’s office Tuesday. Both say they’re trying to leave the drama created by Fuentes’ harsh comments Monday night behind them. Fuentes said he was frustrated that prior conversations with Geren regarding his role in the bullpen didn’t solve anything, but in retrospect, he thinks he was wrong to air it out to reporters. “I definitely meant what I said, but I went about it wrong.” Fuentes didn’t share details of the conversation, but said: “It was a positive discussion on both ends. I think we both understand how each other feel.”

Geren said he requested the meeting with Fuentes after reading Fuentes’ comments criticizing Geren’s communication with him over how he’s being used. “I gave him my thoughts, he gave me his thoughts. Everything’s good. We shook hands. Everything’s fine.”

Geren did say that he’s switching to Grant Balfour as his closer for now. Fuentes is 1-7 with a 5.06 ERA and has taken the loss in his last four appearances, entering a tie game each time. “I told Brian that until he strings a few good outings in a row that I would stick with Balfour for now,” Geren said.

I’ll have more on this in tomorrow’s paper. Here’s the lineups:

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

Angels – Izturis 2B, Aybar SS, Abreu DH, Hunter RF, Callaspo 3B, Trumbo 1B, Conger C, Amarista LF, Bourjos CF; Haren RHP.


A link to A’s story on Brian Fuentes controversy

Check out tonight’s game story on the A’s 4-1 loss, with some harsh words from Brian Fuentes regarding manager Bob Geren.

This was a bombshell coming out of an A’s clubhouse in which there’s usually very little boat-rocking. The focus is always on the A’s lack of offense, or the mounting injuries, or …. whatever. Now there’s some off-field drama to navigate through, and that’s uncharted territory for this team in recent years.


Starting at third base for the A’s … Conor Jackson

Greetings from Angel Stadium, where there’s a bit of a surprise in the A’s lineup …

With Kevin Kouzmanoff still out with a groin injury and Andy LaRoche spelling Mark Ellis at second base, Conor Jackson is making his first career start at third base. If Jackson looks somewhat comfortable there, I’d expect we might see more of him at third. Kouzmanoff has been a disappointment offensively and defensively, and LaRoche is mired in a 2 for 32 slump and is no sure thing with the glove either.

Jackson has been taking grounders at third for about a month, and he’s made a couple cameo appearances there as a substitute. “It’s not like I’m being thrown into the fire here,” he said. But he’ll certainly be tested over a full game, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Angels drop a few bunts his way early on …

–In a somewhat expected move, A’s manager Bob Geren announced right-hander Guillermo Moscoso as his Tuesday starter. Moscoso will fill in for Tyson Ross, who went on the DL Friday. … So Josh Outman starts tonight and Moscoso on Tuesday … These two games will tell a lot about what kind of shape the A’s pitching staff is in given the recent injuries.

–Jerry Blevins was designated for assignment to make roster room for Outman, though Blevins is still expected to report to Triple-A Sacramento.

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s — Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Sweeney LF, Matsui DH, Jackson 3B, DeJesus RF, Suzuki C, LaRoche 2B, Pennington SS; Outman LHP.

Angels — Izturis 2B, Aybar SS, Abreu DH, Hunter RF, Callaspo 3B, Trumbo 1B, Mathis C, Bourjos CF, Willits LF; Weaver RHP.


A’s-Giants lineups and an Andrew Bailey update

Game 2 of A’s-Giants on a sunny and breezy day at AT&T Park. Here’s your lineups:

A’s — Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Sweeney RF, Jackson LF, Ellis 2B, Kouzmanoff 3B, Powell C, Pennington SS, Anderson LHP.

Giants — Torres CF, Sanchez 2B, Posey C, Burrell LF, Ross RF, Huff 1B, Tejada 3B, Fontenot SS, Lincecum RHP.

–Bob Geren swapped out corner outfielders, plugging in Conor Jackson and Ryan Sweeney for Josh Willingham and David DeJesus. Jackson is 7 for 22 lifetime against Tim Lincecum. As for others in the lineup, Kevin Kouzmanoff has fared the best against the two-time Cy Young winner, going 13 for 34 (.382) for his career.

–Closer Andrew Bailey said he came out of Friday’s rehab appearance feeling good physically, but that his stuff needs to get sharper. The A’s haven’t decided when he’ll pitch next, but it will be with Triple-A Sacramento again. Bailey suggested Monday as a possible date.