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Update on Cliff Pennington’s condition, and other notes from A’s 8-4 loss to Mariners

A quick postgame recap of the A’s 8-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners. I figure many of you will get the early-edition story in your papers, and it won’t include the postgame news …

–Shortstop Cliff Pennington left the game in the bottom of the sixth and was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, a nerve condition that causes temporary facial paralysis. He said he began having problems closing his left eye Sunday night, and the condition worsened Monday to the point he had to come out of the game.

Scary stuff, obviously. Scanning some online articles, it appears Bell’s Palsy can last a couple days, a couple weeks or even longer. Sometimes it’s just a one-time occurence for people and never surfaces again. Pennington had never experienced any problems of this sort before Sunday night.

He is on medication right now and is listed as day to day. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes on the DL. This isn’t a condition you want to take lightly, or attempt to play baseball with until you know it’s under control. Plus, the A’s only have a three-man bench right now, and that’s really two when you consider that David DeJesus is still unavailable because of right thumb soreness (manager Bob Melvin hopes to have him back Wednesday).

A reporter who was in the A’s clubhouse afterward said he had a bout with Bell’s Palsy about 30 years ago. It affected him for about six weeks, then symptoms disappeared and he’s never experienced it again. That’s just one person’s experience.

Pennington said “it feels like you went to the dentist and the whole side of your face is numb.”

You have to hope this is a temporary thing …

–As for the on-field news, the A’s did not start this nine-game road trip off on a good note. That bases-loaded, no-out situation in the first, when they came away with no runs, looked an awful lot like their pre-All Star break offensive form.

But perhaps more concerning for the A’s was Trevor Cahill’s outing. He went just four-plus innings, allowed 12 hits and was charged with seven runs. Cahill just hasn’t been able to string together several good outings in a row since his 6-0 start. “We know he’s an elite pitcher, he’s just having trouble running two or three starts together (to build on),” Melvin said.

It’s worth noting that not everything was hit hard off Cahill. And his defense let him down at times. But he was constantly putting runners on base, and when you do that, there’s no margin for error.

–With a double and home run Monday, nine of Kurt Suzuki’s last 12 hits are for extra bases.

That’s all for now …

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A long journey begins

The key number for this nine-game road trip the A’s are starting: 6,544.

That’s the total miles the team will fly from Oakland to Seattle, to Tampa, to Toronto and back home. There are off-days sandwiched around both ends of the Rays series, but that is one brutal trip given the crazy routing. Not exactly ideal for a team sporting a 18-35 road record, though I’m not sure how much the travel itself has factored into the A’s play on the road. Given how well they played on the last homestand, an obvious key is whether the A’s bats can stay hot on this three-city journey. They open up against a Seattle team that just traded two-fifths of its starting rotation in Doug Fister and Erik Bedard.

Speaking of travel, the Mariners won’t have too much sympathy for the A’s, given the grind they annually face as a result of being tucked away in the northwest corner of the country. The difference for the Mariners and, say, the teams situated way up in the Northeast is that Seattle’s division opponents are much more spread out, making for longer trips (and more often) throughout the season.

Personally, I’m just happy I remembered my passport for when we cross into Canada.

–Lefty Jordan Norberto, one of the players obtained in the Brad Ziegler trade, joined the A’s today. He knows Conor Jackson (a former teammate with Arizona), Jemile Weeks (an opponent in the minors) and Fautino De Los Santos (who grew up in a neighboring town in the Dominican Republic.). His addition gives the A’s eight relievers – four lefties and four righties – and manager Bob Melvin said he likes the flexibility that gives him for matchups. I’d expect a reliever to be sent down sometime after this series, however. Melvin acknowledged that it’s tough operating with a three-man bench, and since Toronto and Tampa Bay both play on turf, he would like to give some position players a game off to save them wear and tear. He’ll need more depth in order to do that.

–Norberto throws a fastball, slider and change-up, and he said his command has improved a little lately because he’s repeating his delivery better.

–Still no David DeJesus in the lineup, but he swung off a tee today and said his right thumb is feeling better.

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s – Weeks 2B, Crisp CF, Matsui DH, Willingham LF, Sweeney RF, Jackson 1B, Pennington SS, Suzuki C, Sizemore 3B, Cahill RHP.

Mariners – Ichiro RF, Ryan SS, Ackley 2B, Carp DH, Kennedy 1B, Olivo C, Wells LF, Figgins 3B, Gutierrez CF, Beavan RHP.