0

A’s lineups for Sunday split-squad games

Here’s both lineups for the A’s split-squad games against the Brewers and Padres:

vs. Brewers (home)
Crisp CF
Ellis 2B
Matsui DH
Jackson 1B
Carter LF
Donaldson C
Timmons 3B
Taylor RF
Sogard SS

Gonzalez LHP

vs. Padres (away)
Pennington SS
Barton 1B
DeJesus DH
Willingham LF
Kouzmanoff 3B
Suzuki C
Miller CF
Carson RF
Tolleson 2B

Outman LHP

**Shortstop Cliff Pennington makes his Cactus League debut after sitting out until now while recovering from left shoulder surgery. A switch hitter, Pennington’s shoulder still bothers him a bit swinging right-handed. The Padres are throwing a right-handed starter, so Geren is playing him in that game so he can swing left-handed. “He’s more ready from the left side than the right.”

Pennington is slated for two or three at-bats, and he’ll likely play every other day to start out. It’s worth watching how he progresses given the lack of depth at shortstop with Adam Rosales also injured. Speaking of Rosales, he’s out of his walking boot and throwing and taking grounders on his knees, but his right foot isn’t ready for full activity yet. He’ll visit the doctor March 16 to get a timetable for when he can hit the field full-on …

0

Rangers (at least some of them) face A’s in first spring matchup

The Texas Rangers roll into town today to play their first exhibition against the A’s, but it won’t be a real accurate representation of the squad the A’s will see in the regular season. Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre (who’s hurt) are not making the trip. But ace C.J. Wilson is on the mound.

The lineups:

A’s:
DeJesus RF
Suzuki C
Jackson 1B
Matsui DH
Kouzmanoff 3B
Carson CF
Carter LF
Tolleson SS
Weeks 2B

Braden LHP.

Rangers:
Borbon CF
German 2B
Moreland 1B
Barden DH
Davis 3B
Teagarden C
Deeds RF
Engel Beltre LF
Andres Blanco SS

Wilson LHP

–A’s manager Bob Geren said he sees David DeJesus as a good leadoff candidate when Coco Crisp doesn’t play. DeJesus has lots of experience atop the order from his time with the Royals. Mark Ellis and Cliff Pennington could also fill the role, according to Geren, but DeJesus is the most natural fit.

–Under-the-radar Athletic who is having a nice camp so far: Matt Carson. He homered yesterday and made a great catch slamming into the right field wall against the Brewers. He’s getting a start in center today.

–Outfielder Ryan Sweeney thinks about three weeks is needed for him to get his timing at the plate and be ready for the regular season. He’s scheduled to play in his first game Wednesday – he’s been brought along slowly while he recovers from knee surgery – and that would give him three weeks before the April 1 opener. “In batting practice, everything feels great. It’s just the timing in games,” he said. Sweeney was scheduled to face Andrew Bailey and Craig Breslow this morning in batting practice. He said he’s been shagging flies and his knee feels good.

–Reliever Joey Devine reached the 92-93 mph range in his last outing Wednesday, and Geren said his slider was sharp too. That’s a good sign for the A’s, obviously, and if Devine continues to round into form in Cactus League games, one of the seven bullpen spots surely is his. Speaking of relievers, Michael Wuertz threw 30 pitches yesterday off the mound and his shoulder came out of it fine. He’ll throw off the mound at least one more time before facing hitters. “He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t need 10 to 12 outings,” Geren said. “It could be five or six and he’ll be ready to go.”

–Rich Harden (side muscle injury) played catch at 80 feet today, but there’s no word on when he’ll get back on the mound.

0

Apologetic Crisp addresses reporters over DUI arrest

Thought I’d provide you a full block of Coco Crisp’s quotes that pretty much sum up his feelings on his DUI arrest. I’ll leave my original post below in case you haven’t read that …

“I can’t really go into too much details right now, I guess those will come out later. I guess I can just pretty much say how I feel about the whole situation. Obviously, embarrassment is one of the main feelings. My family has called me. A lot of people look up to me. This is obviously a decision that wasn’t the right decision. One thing that I don’t want to ever be that I am right now, I feel like I’m a distraction. And the sooner that this can get out of the clubhouse, the better. I’ll deal with it myself.

“To all my fans, obviously there’s two different types: Ones that love to razz me because of my name and those ones that love to cheer me on. I apologize to all of them — the team, Major League Baseball. I just want to get this behind me. I guarantee that this will never happen again. I’ve just got to make better decisions moving forward.”

*****************

A’s center fielder Coco Crisp addressed the media before the team took the field Thursday morning and apologized for his DUI arrest. He said he couldn’t share details about the incident, but I have to say his words came across sincere. “A lot of people look up to me,” he said, speaking quietly with reporters gathered around his locker. “This is obviously a decision that wasn’t the right decision. The sooner I can get this out of the clubhouse, the better.” What he’s most sorry for, he said, was that the story became a distraction in the clubhouse for his teammates. “I can guarantee you this will never happen again.”

Crisp hasn’t addressed his teammates about the situation. He said he would be willing to talk to everyone as a group if the front office asked him to, but it sounds as if he won’t take the initiative himself to do that. Manager Bob Geren penciled Crisp into today’s starting lineup against the Brewers but otherwise declined to address Crisp’s arrest. Crisp said he received some words of advice from team management. Perhaps that had to do with what to say to the media, or perhaps it had to do with life choices and how to make sure the same mistake never happens again. All I know is this news shook up what was an otherwise tranquil and non-eventful A’s camp to this point. Aside from a few minor injuries, things have proceeded according to the team’s plan. I don’t expect Crisp’s arrest to have a lingering effect on the team as a whole. But the state of Arizona tends to be very tough on DUI infractions, so we don’t know what’s in store for Crisp from a legal standpoint …

–Here’s the lineup against Milwaukee:

Crisp CF
Barton 1B
Willingham LF
Jackson DH
LaRoche 3B
Carson RF
Timmons 2B
Donaldson C
Sogard SS

Cahill RHP

–In other AL West news, defending division champion Texas will be without third baseman Adrian Beltre for longer than expected due to his calf injury, according to an espn.com story. The Rangers expect him to still be OK for opening day, but that’s an issue worth keeping an eye on.

1

Report: A’s center fielder Coco Crisp arrested on suspicion of DUI

A’s center fielder Coco Crisp was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to a Comcast SportsNet Bay Area report. Crisp has yet to comment, but he is at the stadium now and in uniform. The team is expected to release a statement soon. I’ll have a story posted at www.contracostatimes.com as soon as more information becomes available …

3

Random A’s notes: Josh Outman’s crazy number; Daric Barton and bunting; no outfield for Hideki Matsui in near future

The A’s hold their Cactus League home opener against Cincinnati today, but is there such thing as a home opener when the team is 645 miles away from Oakland? (That’s the distance between Phoenix and Oakland that I found online anyway, and I’m going with it).

–David DeJesus (illness) is feeling much better today and he actually has some color in his face. He’s not in the lineup, but he did some bunting in the cage this morning. DeJesus could play Wednesday against the Indians.

Today’s lineup:
Crisp CF
Barton 1B
Willingham LF
Jackson RF
Carter DH
Powell C
LaRoche 2B
Timmons 3B
Sogard SS

Gonzalez P (followed by Brett Anderson)

–Conor Jackson draws a start in right field, as manager Bob Geren wants him to get innings in left and right field, as well as first base in spring training. Chris Carter is at DH, but he’ll continue to get lots of outfield time in the Cactus League despite Monday’s adventures in left field, Geren said.

–I see Josh Outman taking the mound wearing No. 88, and I can’t help but think he aspires to be an NFL wide receiver. Outman gave up No. 55 to Hideki Matsui when the A’s signed the designated hitter, but Outman wasn’t married to that number anyway. But he did wear No. 8 in college and in the minor leagues, so you could see how the wheels turned in his head when he needed to choose new digits. “Fifty-five was the number given to me when I was called up in 2008. It was just the number Vuc (A’s equipment manager Steve Vucinich) gave to me,” he said. “Suzuki’s No. 8, and I know it’s taboo for a pitcher to wear single digits. I figured nobody’s ever going to want 88. I figured if I can play 15 years, I’ll be able to keep 88 for 15 years. You get comfortable with a number. You get comfortable with a pair of shoes.” A wacky number fits this guy pretty good. I think I’ve mentioned before that Outman has some under-the-radar nuttiness going in his personality.

–Last season, Daric Barton had 12 sacrifice bunts, the most by any major league first baseman since Rod Carew had 16 in 1982. Being able to bunt a guy over is a useful skill for a No. 2 hitter, but several times last year, Barton decided to bunt on his own as opposed to getting the bunt sign. Most of those came in the first half of the season, and Geren said he talked with Barton midway through last season about being more aggressive and swinging the bat more to try advancing guys. Geren said he’ll give Barton the bunt sign when it’s warranted, but will take away the voluntary sacrifice bunt option “just because he’s too valuable,” Geren said. “He’s too good of a hitter to give himself up.”

Interesting stuff, and I think the A’s are a better offensive team if Barton takes a more aggressive approach at the plate.

–Geren has no plans to use Hideki Matsui in the outfield in the near future. “In a perfect season, he would just DH, with the possibility of some outfield in interleague play,” Geren said. “His legs feel good and I want for him to feel that way all through the season.”

–Sunday is a possibility for shortstop Cliff Pennington to play in his first exhibition, as the A’s have split-squad games that day and will need every body available.

That’s all for now …

2

A’s relievers still being handled carefully; the batting order takes shape

Hideki Matsui makes his A’s debut today, but don’t read too much into the rest of the lineup against the Angels with so many regulars getting the day off. David DeJesus is still trying to shake off a stomach bug, but it’s possible he’ll play tomorrow against the Reds. Here’s your starting nine:

Ellis 2B
Suzuki C
Matsui DH
Jackson 1B
Kouzmanoff 3B
Carson CF
Carter LF
Taylor RF
Tolleson SS

Braden P

**Joel Pineiro is on the hill for the Angels.

–Michael Wuertz is scheduled to throw off the mound Thursday for the first time since his shoulder soreness started. Fellow reliever Craig Breslow has had some tenderness in his throwing arm, according to manager Bob Geren, so there’s no indication yet when he’ll appear in a game. Closer Andrew Bailey is probably 5-7 days away from his first game. Those are three key guys in the bullpen, but I’d attribute their inactivity to the A’s precaution as opposed to anything seriously bothering any of these guys. The plan has been to limit their throwing early to preserve them for the regular season.

–A little insight into the batting order: Geren said he wants a right-handed hitter to bat behind Hideki Matsui (the likely No. 5 hitter). He mentioned Kurt Suzuki, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Mark Ellis as possibilities for the sixth spot. So bit by bit, we can piece together how the order will look. If I had to project right now, I’d say: Crisp, Barton, DeJesus, Willingham, Matsui, Kouzmanoff/Suzuki, Ellis, Pennington.

How would that lineup strike you, A’s fans?

1

David DeJesus misses exhibition opener with illness; Eric Sogard gets look at shortstop

It poured rain in the Phoenix area on Saturday night, but there’s no showers in the forecast this afternoon and the A’s exhibition opener against the Chicago Cubs is on. Just a couple items of note this morning:

–Right fielder David DeJesus is not feeling well so he’s not playing. Matt Carson is in right field.

The A’s lineup:
Crisp CF
Barton 1B,
Willingham LF
Suzuki DH
LaRoche 3B
Carson RF
Powell C
Sogard SS
Tolleson 2B
Cahill P

–Steve Tolleson is a more experienced shortstop than Eric Sogard, and we might expect to see those two flip-flopped in the middle infield spots. But Bob Geren said he wants to get a good look at how Sogard handles shortstop in the exhibitions as he decides on a backup infielder. “I just haven’t seen Sogard play there,” Geren said. “I think whoever is going to play shortstop the best is probably going to win that job.”

As for the starting shortstop, Geren said Cliff Pennington probably won’t hit in a game for about a week, but he could play a couple innings defensively and be removed for a pinch hitter.

–Trevor Cahill, Josh Outman, Tyson Ross and Bobby Cramer are all scheduled to throw two innings each today if all goes according to plan. They’d be on a 35-40 pitch limit.

Check out today’s story on Chris Carter and Michael Taylor if you haven’t yet. I usually try to post a link to it on twitter the night before it gets published, but I didn’t get a chance to last night.

If there’s any big news in today’s game, I’ll post it here so check back!!

0

A few vets, lots of prospects on display in Friday intrasquad game; some thoughts on the outfield

There wasn’t a whole lot of news coming out of A’s camp this morning, but here’s a brief rundown:

–Kurt Suzuki is behind the plate for one side in today’s intrasquad game after he got yesterday off. Center fielder Coco Crisp, right fielder David DeJesus and shortstop Cliff Pennington are also in the lineup, though Pennington won’t hit as his left shoulder is still recovering from surgery. Lots of top prospects are playing: Chris Carter (playing first, though the A’s still consider him mainly an outfielder right now), second baseman Jemile Weeks, catcher Max Stassi, left fielder Michael Taylor and shortstop Grant Green.

–Ryan Sweeney is at DH today but he’s still not playing in the field. Manager Bob Geren offered March 7 as the date Sweeney might make his exhibition debut as he comes back from right knee surgery, and Geren believes that is plenty of time to have Sweeney ready for the regular season.

–Geren talked about his outfield rotation and who might play where. Notably, he likes DeJesus as his main choice to play center when Crisp needs a day off. I envision Crisp getting a substantial amount of rest this season as the A’s try to keep him healthy. A writer who has covered DeJesus extensively told me that he’s an underrated defensive player, but that he’s lost a bit of range and therefore isn’t ideal in center anymore. I’ll be interested to see what kind of ground he still covers. I could also see Sweeney drawing the occasional start in center to spell Crisp, especially against right-handers. Conor Jackson will see time in left and right field this spring, Geren said, but Jackson is playing first base in today’s intrasquad game. He’s a backup option at first when Barton isn’t playing.

–Reliever Michael Wuertz will resume throwing Saturday or Sunday, according to Geren.

0

A’s roundup: The heart of the order; Devine and Outman’s roster chances; Conor Jackson to see action at first base

We’ve got an A’s intrasquad game this afternoon, which really isn’t all that exciting or revealing in the big picture. But after watching nine days worth of workouts, it’s nice to get some variety. And it’s the first chance to see the team in a somewhat realistic game environment.

A few items of note:

–David DeJesus, Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui are batting 3-4-5 for one team, and that’s a heart of the order I’d expect to see lots in the regular season. “That’s a potential 3-4-5 for the season. We’ll see how the spring goes,” manager Bob Geren said.

–I’ll be interested to see Josh Outman and Joey Devine pitch today. Both have endured a long recovery from Tommy John surgery, and they could factor heavily into the pitching plans for the season – Outman as a fifth starter, Devine as a setup man.

Asked about the prospects of both making the 25-man roster out of camp, Geren said: “If they look like they’re ready, they’re gonna be here, without a doubt.” Seems telling to me: There’s open competition for the No. 5 starter spot, but if Outman looks decent and is healthy, he’ll be the guy, especially with Rich Harden delayed by injury. And Devine’s stuff is too good for him not to break camp w/the team if he’s healthy.

–Conor Jackson will start working at first base a little, giving Geren a right-handed option for the position to complement the left-handed hitting Daric Barton. “Daric played (159) games last year,” Geren said. “Quite frankly, there were a couple times we would have liked to give him a day off but we didn’t have the right option over there. The fact that (Jackson) is a righty over a lefty, it makes that option more enticing to me.” Jackson also will be an extra outfielder. He’ll occupy a roster spot that could have gone to Chris Carter – a right-handed hitting outfielder/first baseman. But the A’s obviously feel Jackson is a better bet to hit early in the season, and another factor that can’t be ignored – Jackson is a better defensive player than Carter, in the outfield and probably at first base.

That’s all for now …