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Chavez, Tomko pay visits; other A’s tidbits

The A’s were just in Anaheim four weeks ago, and it feels nearly as hot now as it was then. But once the sun goes down, there’s not a better place to watch night baseball than Angel Stadium …

Lots of visitors in the A’s dugout before today’s game, including Eric Chavez and Brett Tomko. I guess I shouldn’t call them visitors really. Point is, they haven’t been around in a while. Chavez has been rehabbing his back in San Diego and made the trip up. He said his recovery from surgery continues to go well, and he’s hoping to begin baseball activity in December.

Tomko, who was shut down for the season last week, said doctors told him he basically “pulled a nerve” that runs through his right bicep. That’s what’s causing the numbness he still feels at times. He’s talked to Giants pitcher Brad Penny about the problem, because Penny had the same injury a few seasons ago. Rest is the only real remedy, and Tomko said he should be 100 percent by the time spring training rolls around. Will he be wearing an A’s uniform then? Who knows … But Tomko thinks he pitched well enough before his injury to open eyes around the majors, and he’s said previously he wouldn’t mind returning to Oakland.

Former A’s catcher Adam Melhuse, who retired earlier this season, also was in the dugout. He lives in San Luis Obispo, and Chavez talked him into paying a visit.

–Scott Hairston’s quad/back/hip injuries aren’t showing much improvement, and manager Bob Geren listed him as doubtful for the Angels series. So Eric Patterson’s back in left, where he’s made a nice impression over the past three games …

Tonight’s lineups
A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Barton 1B
Ellis 2B
Patterson LF
Pennington SS

Gio Gonzalez LHP

Angels
Figgins 3B
Aybar SS
Abreu RF
Guerrero DH
Hunter CF
Rivera LF
Morales 1B
Kendrick 2B
Mathis C

Weaver RHP

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A’s-Rangers lineups; pondering Landon Powell’s future role

A little different look to the A’s lineup today, not surprising for a day game after a night game. Eric Patterson is at second base, Travis Buck is in left field and Landon Powell is catching, plans that manager Bob Geren had indicated last night.

Geren was asked if Powell might be a consideration for more DH/first base duty next season, based on how well he’s hit. Geren wasn’t specific, but said he would try to find Powell more at-bats somehow, depending on how the roster shapes up. That’s an interesting idea to ponder. With this year’s offense lacking in the power department, Powell’s presence could provide a little more pop. But that depends on A) How healthy he would remain with increased playing time; B) whether he could improve enough at first base to not be a defensive liability; C) whether the A’s re-sign Jack Cust and what other DH options they might have; and D) who else they might sign/trade for over the winter.

Anyway, here’s your lineups as the A’s prepare to head out on a six-game road trip:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Cust DH
Powell C
Barton 1B
Patterson 2B
Buck LF
Pennington SS

Anderson LHP

Rangers
Kinsler 2B
Andrus SS
Murphy LF
Jones DH
Blalock 1B
Byrd CF
Davis 3B
Teagarden C
Gentry RF

Feldman RHP

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A’s-Rangers pregame update

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s: Kennedy 3B; Davis CF; Sweeney RF; Suzuki C; Cust DH; Ellis 2B; Barton 1B; Pennington SS; Patterson LF; Mortensen RHP.

Rangers: Borbon DH; Andrus SS; Murphy LF; Byrd CF; Blalock 1B; Cruz RF; Davis 3B; Rodriguez C; Vizquel 2B; Hunter RHP.

As you can see, Scott Hairston is out of the lineup again, but A’s manager Bob Geren is hopeful he can return before season’s end. … Nothing substantially newsworthy to report pre-game, unless you count Travis Buck shaving his head as big news. He usually waits until after the season to do so, but went ahead and did it now. “Maybe I’m trying to go incognito,” he said.

Geren praised Daric Barton again today before batting practice. Curious how all of you are feeling about Barton right now. Part of the reason Chris Carter wasn’t brought up was so the A’s could continue evaluating Barton at first. Do you think he’s turning the corner as a big league hitter?

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Daric Barton returns, Scott Hairston absent from A’s lineup

The A’s welcome back one regular to the lineup (first baseman Daric Barton) but are without another (left fielder Scott Hairston). Hairston has been bitten by the injury bug for most of his time with the A’s. His left hip began bothering him last night and forced him to leave the game. But he also has pain in his back and left quad (which has been a problem for a while now), and Hairston wonders if they all could be related. A’s manager Bob Geren said he was hopeful Hairston could possibly return tomorrow, but that seems optimistic based on how Hairston feels right now. “I want to be out there, and my body is not letting me do it,” he said.

Barton has a bone spur in his left heel that acted up during Sunday’s game, so he sat yesterday. But he said he’s played with the bone spur for “a couple of years,” so obviously it’s nothing too serious.

Not much else going on leading up to tonight’s game, but the beat writers did present the Bill Rigney Good Guy Award today. Kurt Suzuki was this year’s winner. We give the award out annually to the player who’s most cooperative with the media, which is a tough call in the A’s clubhouse because there aren’t many bad seeds. Anyway, Suzuki had fun w/it. It would have been good to snap a photo of him walking through the clubhouse holding his Good Guy plaque over his head like it was a heavyweight championship belt.

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Ellis 2B
Barton 1B
Pennington SS
Patterson LF

Cahill RHP

Rangers
Borbon DH
Andrus SS
Murphy LF
Byrd CF
Blalock 1B
Kinsler 2B
Cruz RF
C. Davis 3B
Rodriguez C

McCarthy RHP

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Andrew Bailey posters decorate clubhouse; Tomko’s season done

A’s closer Andrew Bailey has gotten some playful ribbing from his teammates for all of the media attention he’s received this season. I’d imagine that’s why there were several copies of the Andrew Bailey “Rookie of the Year” poster plastered around the clubhouse today. The poster was a fan giveaway Sunday. There was one greeting visitors on the door leading into the clubhouse this afternoon. Reliever Michael Wuertz also had one pinned to the wall right next to his locker. Wuertz is one of Bailey’s primary hecklers. But you also won’t find anybody happier for Bailey and his success this season than Wuertz. He was gushing about Bailey’s ability even before the rookie began closing games.

–A’s manager Bob Geren confirmed that right-hander Brett Tomko will miss the rest of the season with nerve irritation in his right arm, though Geren didn’t have full results from Tomko’s trip to a neurologist. Basically, there’s not enough time for Tomko to get his arm strength back before season’s end. So now the question is whether Tomko could be a part of the A’s 2010 pitching staff. The A’s certainly could use a veteran figure such as Tomko to complement all of their youngsters, particularly if Justin Duchscherer isn’t re-signed. “That’s something you’d look at in the winter (depending on) where we’re at,” Geren said. “I thought (Tomko) did a nice job. He’s definitely going to be a big league pitcher somewhere. If he fits in with us, great. If not, he’s definitely a quality pitcher and a quality guy.”

–Daric Barton is bothered by a minor heel injury that happened while running the bases yesterday, so Bobby Crosby starts at first base in the opener of a four-game series against Texas. Geren is hopeful Barton returns tomorrow.

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Ellis 2B
Hairston LF
Crosby 1B
Pennington SS

Edgar Gonzalez RHP

Rangers
Borbon DH
Andrus SS
Murphy LF
Byrd CF
Blalock 1B
Kinsler 2B
Cruz RF
Davis 3B
Teagarden C

Millwood RHP

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Travis Buck, Henry Rodriguez, John Meloan promoted; Chris Carter unlikely to get call

With Triple-A Sacramento having been knocked from the playoffs last night, the A’s promoted outfielder Travis Buck and relievers Henry Rodriguez and John Meloan.

This is Rodriguez’s major league debut. Meloan, 25, was claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh on Sept. 2, and Bob Geren said he’ll fill a middle relief role similar to what Jeff Gray is doing right now. He’s made seven career appearances in the majors, split between the Dodgers and Indians. “He’s a control guy, not a flame thrower, but good command,” Geren said of Meloan.

One player we probably won’t see in Oakland is first baseman Chris Carter. Geren said it’s “highly doubtful” Carter or anyone else will be added to the big league roster before season’s end. Carter enjoyed as fine an offensive season as anyone in the minors, but the A’s obviously want to keep evaluating Daric Barton at first base. So Carter probably wouldn’t have gotten regular at-bats. “He’s had a great season and he’s going to be forcing his way into the picture, just not at this moment,” Geren said.

Buck, who seemingly has slipped down the totem pole in the A’s outfield picture, said he was pleasantly surprised to get word of his call-up. With Rajai Davis and Ryan Sweeney playing so well, his innings might be limited. And when he does play, I’d expect it to be in left field to spell Scott Hairston.

Rodriguez is the most intriguing newcomer. You’ll remember he impressed in 2008 spring training with his 100 mph fastball, but his big-time strikeout totals in the minors have been countered by a high number of walks too. Rodriguez, 22, was hindered in spring training with his recovery from offseason hernia surgery, and his back also has bothered him. Geren said he’ll look for low-pressure situations to ease Rodriguez into.

It’s another right-handed dominated lineup for the A’s, with Davis again in the leadoff spot. Adam Kennedy gets another day off, but Geren said he’s inclined to keep Kennedy in the top spot when he plays. Ryan Sweeney’s knees are doing better, but Matt Carson gets another start in his place.

A’s
Davis CF
Ellis 2B
Suzuki C
Nomar DH
Hairston LF
Crosby 3B
Barton 1B
Carson RF
Pennington SS

Gio Gonzalez LHP

Indians
Brantley CF
Carroll 2B
Cabrera SS
Choo RF
Peralta 3B
Hafner DH
LaPorta 1B
Shoppach C
Crowe LF

Sowers LHP

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All’s ‘right’ with A’s batting order tonight

It’s not your typical A’s lineup tonight, with eight right-handed hitters starting against Cleveland lefty David Huff. Nomar Garciaparra (DH) and Bobby Crosby (3B) each get a rare start, and Daric Barton is the lone left-handed bat.

The most intriguing name in the A’s order? Right fielder Matt Carson, called up from Triple-A to make his major league debut at age 28. Ryan Sweeney is battling soreness in his knees, according to Bob Geren. Nothing serious, but enough for the A’s to call up another outfielder, even with Sacramento still in the Triple-A playoffs (the River Cats will be eliminated if they lose tonight, so there’s a chance we could see more call-ups soon).

I remember walking into the A’s clubhouse in spring training, seeing Carson and asking, “Who is this guy?” His signing in November hardly caused a ripple, and he was just one of many anonymous faces around Papago Park when camp opened. But he really caught the A’s attention during Cactus League play, and has only helped his cause this season. Who knows if he’s got a chance to make the team next year? But if Sweeney remains banged up, Carson could see more starts.

With Adam Kennedy getting a day off, Rajai Davis moves into the leadoff spot. Geren said he could easily interchange Kennedy and Davis at the 1-2 slots, but he’s stuck w/Kennedy at leadoff because the offense has been clicking. It’ll be interesting to see if Davis gets a few more looks in the top spot. After all, he’s a pretty realistic leadoff option going into next season.

–Geren on the odds of right-hander Brett Tomko returning to the mound this season: “Probably less than 50-50, but there’s a chance.”

–Dallas Braden, out for the season with nerve damage in his left foot, is with the team today. He’s not doing much in the way of activity, and acknowledged some frustration w/an injury that ended what was a pretty encouraging season for him. He had this to say about his recovery: “There’s about a 90 percent chance of (a full recovery). It could be a month, it could be six months. I could never be the same, or I could bounce back like nothing ever happened.”

Braden and Kurt Suzuki are being honored tonight w/the Dave Stewart Community Service Award.

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Davis CF
Suzuki C
Hairston LF
Nomar DH
Crosby 3B
Ellis 2B
Barton 1B
Carson RF
Pennington SS

Anderson LHP

Indians
Brantley CF
Carroll 2B
Choo RF
Peralta 3B
LaPorta 1B
Shoppach DH
Marson C
Crowe LF
Romero SS

Huff LHP

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Outfielder Matt Carson promoted from Triple-A

Pretty nice story today, as the A’s promoted outfielder Matt Carson from Triple-A Sacramento. Carson is making his major league debut at age 28. He led Sacramento with 25 homers and 77 RBI, but he’s flown under the radar with some of the other higher profile players on the River Cats roster. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the A’s transferred pitcher Vin Mazzaro to the 60-day DL, which is no surprise since they already announced he’s out for the season.

More to come in a bit …

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Brett Tomko could be out for season; Dana Eveland gets a start

Working my way back into game shape  after not covering the last road trip, and problems connecting to the Internet aren’t helping my cause. But I won’t bore you w/that. Here’s a few quick A’s items as we’re not far off from first pitch at the Coliseum …

–With Vin Mazzaro shut down for the season with shoulder tendinitis, Bob Geren said Clayton Mortensen would remain in the rotation the remainder of 2009. Mortensen makes his third start tonight since being recalled from the minors, and he’s looked pretty good in his first two outings.

–Brett Tomko, who’s experiencing a nerve problem in his elbow area, could also be out for the season, Geren said. These injuries aren’t helping the A’s efforts to carry through with a six-man rotation, are they? Lefty Dana Eveland will start in Tomko’s place Sunday, with Edgar Gonzalez taking the hill in Monday’s series opener against Texas.

Remember when Eveland was a key part of Oakland’s rotation? His name has fallen through the cracks with the emergence of other young pitchers, but he’s looking forward to his first major league start since July 6. He’s made three relief apperances since being recalled Sept. 1, allowing five hits and one run in three innings.

Tomko wasn’t in the clubhouse today, as his wife is preparing to deliver twins tomorrow. Not much more concrete detail to offer on his injury.

Here’s tonight’s lineups, featuring Landon Powell in the DH spot for the A’s. Hmmm, I’ll go out on a limb and predict he might hit a homer. Gutsy call, eh???

A’s

Kennedy 3B

Davis CF

Sweeney LF

Suzuki C

Powell DH

Cust RF

Ellis 2B

Barton 1B

Pennington SS

Mortensen RHP

 

Indians

Brantley CF

Carroll 2B

Choo RF

Peralta 3B

Hafner DH

LaPorta 1B

Valbuena SS

Marson C

Crowe LF

Masterson RHP

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Have the A’s found their shortstop in Cliff Pennington?

With the A’s having just rolled out of Minnesota, we got a look at their current shortstop in Cliff Pennington and their former one in Orlando Cabrera. This team has a decision to make in the offseason at shortstop, but I’ll say that Pennington has impressed me with what he’s done so far. That leads me to believe the A’s could be better served by spending their free agent money at other positions (third base? veteran starting pitcher?).

Do you think the A’s should move forward with Pennington as their starting shortstop in 2010? Cabrera said upon his trade to Minnesota that he would be open to re-signing with the A’s this winter. Would you like to see him back in green and gold or perhaps someone else on the free agent market?