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Dallas Braden to get 2nd, 3rd opinions on shoulder; Andrew Bailey has another good day

The lowdown from Kauffman Stadium, as Tommy Lasorda is in the house (or on the field) as the A’s take batting practice. …

–Andrew Bailey threw a 30-pitch batting practice session and, for the first time, threw all of his pitches – fastball, curve, cutter, changeup. Manager Bob Geren said he looked good, as did Kevin Kouzmanoff, one of the hitters facing him. And Bailey said he felt good. His road back to the 25-man roster continues gradually. Next up will be a simulated game, which is different from throwing live BP – no protective screen in front of the mound, a count will be kept. It’s more of game situation. Bailey estimates he’ll throw “1 or 2” more times before heading off on a rehab assignment, but consider everything written in pencil.

–Dallas Braden will get a second and third opinion on his shoulder in the next few days. He’ll be examined by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., on Monday. Then he’ll see Dr. David Altchek, the Mets team doctor, in New York on Tuesday.

Tonight’s lineups on a perfect night for baseball in Kansas City:

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

Royals – Getz 2B, Cabrera CF, Gordon LF, Butler DH, Francoeur RF, Hosmer 1B, Aviles 3B, Treanor C, Escobar SS; Hochevar RHP.

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Coco Crisp out of the lineup again, A’s say it’s precautionary

It’s a perfect afternoon for baseball at the Coliseum. I have no idea what kind of crowd will show up today, a rare non-holiday Monday afternoon game. But it’s a potentially big game for the A’s no matter how many people witness it. Taking a four-game series from Texas, the AL West favorites, would provide a healthy dose of momentum. And that could be helpful considering the surprising Cleveland Indians – with a majors-best 19-8 record – roll into town Tuesday for a three-game series.

–After a big game yesterday, Coco Crisp is back out of the lineup. A’s manager Bob Geren said the team is treating Crisp’s sore quadriceps carefully. “We’re just being cautious with him,” Geren said. “We’re monitoring how the game goes. He had high exertion yesterday with a lot of running, and we have to be cautious.” With a night game tomorrow following today’s day game, Geren said the thinking was that Crisp could get a bit of extra rest and be ready for Tuesday’s series opener with Cleveland. Crisp played down the situation. “I’m perfectly fine,” he told me. “It’s just a day off. I’m not quite 100 percent.” Geren added that Crisp was available off the bench if needed.

Does it concern you that Crisp is sitting again? Judging by how he played yesterday, the leg can’t be bothering him too much. If occasional rest now is going to help him be ready to play regularly for the long haul, it’s probably a smart idea.

–David DeJesus is playing center field in place of Crisp, with Conor Jackson getting another start in right. I asked Geren if he considered playing Ryan Sweeney in center since DeJesus has struggled a bit hitting. Geren said Sweeney would get some playing time soon with the A’s facing a string of right-handed starters coming up.

–Other injury updates: Andrew Bailey will pitch to hitters for the first time Wednesday, and Dallas Braden played catch this morning, but we didn’t get a report on him yet.

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

Rangers – Andrus SS, Moreland 1B, Young 2B, Beltre DH, Cruz RF, Murphy LF, Davis 3B, Teagarden C, Borbon CF; Holland LHP.

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Andrew Bailey’s return is still down the road; Coco Crisp back in A’s lineup

Here’s the pregame lowdown from the Coliseum, as the A’s try to rebound from Saturday’s shellacking …

–As you’ve noticed, the news has been vague on closer Andrew Bailey ever since he’s been on the disabled list. It remains that way, though we got a little more detail today. Bailey threw another bullpen session this morning, and if he comes out of it OK, he’ll throw a batting practice session in a few days, possibly Wednesday. Manager Bob Geren said Bailey likely would throw a simulated game after that, and then the A’s would decide when he begins a minor league rehab assignment. How many outings would he need to be ready to join the major league club? “I don’t really know how many appearances I’ll need before pitching in the big leagues, but I’d say a few since I really didn’t have a spring training,” Bailey said. It’s easy to forget that Bailey pitched in just two exhibitions before suffering his forearm strain.

Long story short, it’s going to be at least two weeks before Bailey rejoins the A’s bullpen. So it’s up to Brian Fuentes and the other relievers to hold down the fort until then. Going hand in hand with that, the A’s would really benefit from their starters continuing to pitch deep in games. Entering today, Oakland’s starters were tied for fourth in the majors in innings pitched (172 2/3).

–Coco Crisp returns to the leadoff spot after missing three games with tightness in his left quadriceps. David DeJesus is sitting against left-hander Matt Harrison and DH Hideki Matsui was dropped to the sixth spot. Andy LaRoche, despite a shaky day defensively Saturday at second base, gets a start at third in place of Kevin Kouzmanoff.

The lineups:
A’s – Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Jackson RF, Willingham LF, Suzuki C, Matsui DH, Ellis 2B, LaRoche 3B, Pennington SS; Gonzalez LHP.

Rangers – Kinsler 2B, Andrus SS, Young DH, Beltre 3B, Cruz LF, Napoli 1B, Murphy CF, Torrealba C, Moreland RF; Harrison LHP.

4

Conor Jackson in right field as A’s try to break through vs. Mariners

The weather is absolutely perfect in Seattle right now as the A’s take batting practice, but the temperature is sure to drop big-time as the night wears on. Still, it was nice to sit in the dugout while the A’s were hitting and not freeze. …

A’s manager Bob Geren said last night that he planned to start both Conor Jackson and Andy LaRoche tonight against Seattle left-hander Jason Vargas. But only Jackson is in there, playing right field in place of David DeJesus (who is actually hitting .346 over his past seven games). Geren said he thought about giving Cliff Pennington a day off and playing LaRoche at shortstop, but he likes the way Pennington’s swing has looked lately.

The lineups:

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

Mariners – Ichiro RF, Figgins 3B, Kennedy 1B, Cust DH, Saunders CF, Rodriguez SS, Gimenez C, Peguero LF, Wilson 2B; Vargas LHP.

–Andrew Bailey threw a 35-pitch bullpen session. All indications are he continues to progress well, but pitching coach Ron Romanick said Bailey will throw at least once more on the side before facing hitters.

That’s all for now …

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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.

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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 …

2

Andrew Bailey confirms he’s DL-bound; Joey Devine optioned to Triple-A

We have a little bullpen news this morning, as the A’s get ready to play the Colorado Rockies in their final Cactus League game before flying north for the Bay Bridge Series.

–Joey Devine was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento and closer Andrew Bailey acknowledged he’ll be starting the season on the disabled list. I’m sure you’ll find neither surprising. The good news for Devine is his elbow is feeling good, but he hasn’t been sharp enough to claim one of the seven bullpen spots. Bailey played catch this morning for the first time since being diagnosed with a forearm strain, and he’s hopeful he won’t miss much time. “It’s better to miss a little time now than a month or two or three down the road.”

Significantly, Geren mentioned Grant Balfour as a closer option along with Brian Fuentes until Bailey returns. Fuentes has looked shaky recently and Balfour seems to have put things together after struggling with some mechanical issues earlier in camp. It’s worth mentioning that Geren never had singled out Fuentes as the fill-in closer, but based on Fuentes’ experience, it was assumed he’d be the guy. I can’t blame Geren for leaving his options open. “Breslow has been good in that role too,” Geren said. “I was encouraged with Michael Wuertz (Saturday night).”

Something tells me we’ll see the closer-by-committee approach until Bailey gets back …

Here’s the lineup vs the Rockies:

Sweeney CF
Barton 1B
DeJesus RF
Kouzmanoff 3B
Ellis 2B
Jackson LF
Powell C
Pennington SS
Cramer P

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Bailey diagnosed with strained forearm — news could have been worse for A’s

Here’s a few updates following the A’s 8-1 loss to the Cubs. …

–The team issued a release saying closer Andrew Bailey was diagnosed with a strained right forearm, and that he can begin throwing again when he’s pain-free. Bailey was examined Tuesday in Alabama by Dr. James Andrews. He had no swelling or structural damage, which means surgery isn’t in the cards as things stand. That’s relatively good news for the A’s and Bailey, who looked to be in considerable pain when he left Monday’s outing against Cleveland. “While there’s no timetable for his return, this is welcome news,” A’s GM Billy Beane said in the release.

–Fellow reliever Michael Wuertz (right shoulder) made his Cactus League debut with a scoreless seventh inning. He gave up one hit with one walk and one strikeout, mixing in fastballs, sliders and changeups. “It was nice to get out there in a game situation,” he said. “I had to battle to get out of that inning. Overall, it was a positive outing for me.” He’s confident he’ll squeeze enough games in to be ready by opening night.

–Left-hander Brett Anderson went 5 2/3 innings and allowed one run and three hits in his best outing of the spring. The only damage came on Brett Jackson’s solo homer in the sixth. “I got five or six ground balls on my changeup, which is good,” Anderson said. The lefty said earlier in the spring that he’s inclined to throw his slider rather than experiment with a changeup he doesn’t feel real comfortable with. But pitching coach Ron Romanick is stressing the importance for all A’s starters to utilize their change. “You’ve gotta have that third dimension to be a front-line starter, especially in the American League,” said Romanick. He noted that Anderson is also busting right-handers inside more with his fastball instead of solely relying on his slider.

–The A’s dropped their other split-squad game 4-3 to the Kansas City Royals in Surprise. Right-hander Brandon McCarthy was solid in 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits. He struck out four and walked none, continuing to make a strong case for the fifth starter’s spot along with Tyson Ross and Bobby Cramer. The other No. 5 candidate, Josh Outman, pitches Thursday against the Cubs and needs to turn around his fortunes to remain in the conversation.

Shortstop Cliff Pennington started against the Royals and had two right-handed at-bats, lining an RBI single up the middle in one of them. It’s the first time Pennington, a switch hitter, has hit from the right side in a game this spring as he’s coming off shoulder surgery.

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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.

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?