A’s minor league update: Cunningham joins A’s, Copeland back with Giants

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm for the A’s affiliates Thursday:

There were some more roster moves in Sacramento today as the RiverCats saw the A’s recall outfielder Aaron Cunningham and activate reliever Santiago Casilla. To replace them, the RiverCats added relievers Jerry Blevins and Jeff Gray, who were both sent down by the big club.

Also, the Ben Copeland experiment is officially over as the A’s sent their Rule 5 choice back to the Giants for $25,000, or half the original cost Oakland incurred in claiming the outfielder. Copeland will continue his rehabilitation stint with the Giants’ Single-A squad in San Jose.


Albuquerque (Dodgers) 11, RiverCats 2: Story l Boxscore

Gio Gonzalez struggled Thursday night for the Cats as he allowed eight runs (four earned) and walked five in just 2 1/3 innings. Gonzalez’s ERA ballooned to 4.44.

Daric Barton is now at .200 after going 1-for-3 with a double to boost his team-leading RBI total to 19. Adrian Cardenas went 0-for-2 while batting ninth and saw his average dip to .191.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

San Antonio (Padres) 4, RockHounds 3: Story l Boxscore

Anthony Recker went 3-for-3 with a pair of home runs in the RockHounds’ 10-inning loss. Recker had half of the RockHounds’ six hits.

Kristian Bell had a promising start for Midland, going five innings and allowing just two runs in his best effort of the season.

Chris Carter is in a 1-for-14 slump after going 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Ports 6, Inland Empire (Dodgers) 3: Story l Boxscore

Jermaine Mitchell smacked a three-run triple in the eighth inning to provide the difference for the Ports.

Scott Hodsdon didn’t get the win but he did pitch well, going five innings and allowing just two earned runs and striking out six. Jon Hunton is now 6-for-6 in save opportunities after throwing two scoreless innings.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Game 1: Burlington (Royals), 6, Cougars 3: Story l Boxscore

Game 2: Cougars 3, Burlington (Royals) 2: Story l Boxscore

Anthony Capra had one of his worst starts of the season, allowing 10 hits and five runs in five innings to take the Game 1 loss.

The Cougars got a doubleheader split, thanks to Jason Christian, who delivered an RBI single in the seventh inning for the winner in Game 2.

Dusty Coleman had a pair of doubles and an RBI in the win.

Brett Hunter allowed just one hit in his four innings, which also included five walks and three strikeouts. Kenny Smalley got the win with three scoreless innings.


A’s pregame update, Saturday

It’s days like this that make you wish every A’s home game was played during the afternoon. The sun’s out. Perfect baseball weather. The ball should fly pretty good …

Adam Kennedy is in the lineup, starting at second and hitting eighth. Bob Geren said he didn’t want to interrupt the top six in his lineup, and batting the left-handed hitting Kennedy seventh would have made for three lefties in a row (Cust, Sweeney, Kennedy) against Toronto lefty Brian Tallet.

Geren played it sly about Kennedy being his everyday second baseman until Mark Ellis returns. “I plan on using him quite a bit,” Geren said, with a look that indicated Kennedy will definitely be the regular guy. Bobby Crosby is starting at third, and although Jack Hannahan had RBI doubles each of the past two games, I’d expect Crosby to get the lion’s share of time at third. His defense is good enough there isn’t a huge dropoff with the glove between him and Hannahan.

So Kennedy was added to the 40-man roster, and Rule 5 outfielder Ben Copeland was designated for assignment to make room for him. Long story short, they have 10 days to try to work a trade for Copeland, and then he must be sent through waivers. If nobody claims him, he must be offered back to the Giants for $25,000. If the Giants don’t want him, the A’s can send him to the minors.

Infielder Gregorio Petit also was optioned to Triple-A, and reliever Jeff Gray was recalled to replenish the bullpen. Gray has a big-time arm. The A’s like him and I know he’s generated interest from other clubs too.

Eric Chavez played catch with Mark Ellis at 120 feet and also hit soft toss, according to Geren. Chavez was aiming to come off the DL Friday, but I’m not sure how likely that is. Geren said Chavez might require a minor league rehab stint, but that Chavez would have the final call on that. As for the A’s other injured third baseman, Nomar Garciaparra might try hitting tomorrow.

A’s lineup: Cabrera SS; Suzuki DH; Giambi 1B; Holliday LF; Cust RF; Sweeney CF; Crosby 3B; Kennedy 2B; Powell C; Gallagher P.

Jays lineup: Scutaro SS; Hill 2B; Rios RF; Wells CF; Lind DH; Bautista 3B; Overbay 1B; Chavez C; Snider LF; Tallet P.


A’s 5, Blue Jays 3

If you missed the second inning, you missed all the offense tonight. The A’s five-run rally in the second, highlighted by Ryan Sweeney’s two-run homer, was all the scoring they needed. Another tag-team effort from the bullpen salted away the victory after Josh Outman lasted just 4 1/3 innings.

It was the second straight game Sweeney has batted sixth, and he said afterward he feels more at ease than he did batting leadoff. “I just feel more relaxed,” he said. “I may have put pressure on myself to get on base and make something happen (in the leadoff spot).”

So, Orlando Cabrera and Kurt Suzuki have batted 1-2 over the past two games, and the offense has responded with two encouraging efforts. How much credit should go to Bob Geren’s lineup shuffle? Tough to say for sure.

I’ll be curious to see what happens if new second baseman Adam Kennedy is inserted in the lineup for tomorrow’s game, as Geren said is likely to happen. Where would he hit? Would it upset whatever chemistry has developed?

I’d put him in the eighth or ninth spot right now, thinking maybe he can get on base and help turn the lineup over. But who gets bumped from the lineup? And from the 25-man and 40-man rosters to make room for him?

The A’s currently have six outfielders (including Jack Cust), so maybe they offer Rule 5 pick Ben Copeland back to the Giants. If not, I’d think Gregorio Petit gets optioned. He’s been stuck on the bench. Jack Hannahan has delivered a couple of big hits each of the last two games, so it might be tough to send him down right now. And with the A’s starting pitchers not going deep, I’d think they’d want to keep a 12-man pitching staff. We should get the answer early tomorrow …

Sean Gallagher makes his first start of the season, in place of Brett Anderson. With the game not on TV, I’ll try to provide a couple in-game updates …


Eveland sent down; OF Copeland joins roster

Today brought more shuttling with the A’s roster, as lefty Dana Eveland was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento and outfielder Ben Copeland was activated from the disabled list. Dan Giese will make tomorrow night’s start against Texas in Eveland’s place. Can’t be too surprised by the decision to send Eveland down, as those two outings in Seattle (one start, one unexpected relief outing) couldn’t have done much for his confidence. “We’ll get him in the rotation down there,” Bob Geren said. “He’s got to improve command of all of his pitches.”

Starting tomorrow shouldn’t be a huge adjustment for Giese, who served as a spot starter for the Yankees last season. “I really enjoy it,” Giese said. “I really don’t do much different (from relieving).” He said he’ll stay in the stretch tomorrow since that’s what he’s used to doing out of the ‘pen. Geren labeled this a spot start for Giese, and with two offdays next week, the A’s have some wiggle room with their rotation. They don’t know yet if Brett Anderson’s blister will be healed enough for him to start Saturday. If he can’t go, I’d assume Sean Gallagher would take his place. Geren mentioned Gallagher as a starting option when he talked about the flexibility with the upcoming rotation.

Copeland, you’ll remember from spring training, was the Rule 5 outfielder the A’s picked up from the Giants. He suffered whiplash when he crashed into the wall making a catch down in Arizona, and he had lingering shoulder problems as a result. He said throwing isn’t an issue now, and he was 6-for-13 in three games split between Single-A Stockton and Sacramento.

I’m not sure if I envision Copeland with a long-term future in Oakland, but as a Rule 5 guy, he has to stay on the 25-man roster or be offered back to the Giants. We’ll see what kind of playing time he gets. This gives the A’s six outfielders, which they’re able to pull off because they’re carrying just five infielders right now.

Nomar Garciaparra apparently is recovering well from his right calf injury. He’s back w/the team and Geren said Garciaparra is hopeful of being ready to come off the DL when he’s eligible May 14.

One last note: Geren said he’ll probably get Brad Ziegler in tonight’s game even if it’s not a save situation. Ziegler hasn’t pitched since April 25, but is ready to roll after recovering from the flu …

Today’s A’s lineup, featuring Ryan Sweeney back in the leadoff spot:

Sweeney CF; Cabrera SS; Giambi 1B; Holliday LF; Cust DH; Suzuki C; Buck RF; Crosby 3B; Petit 2B; Braden P.

Angels lineup: Figgins 3B; Matthews Jr., RF; Abreu DH; Hunter CF; Napoli C; Kendrick 2B; Morales 1B; Rivera LF; Aybar SS; Loux P.


The Farm Report

A quick post today before heading out to catch the big club at the Coliseum later this afternoon:


— The River Cats used Adrian Cardenas at second base in a 5-3 win over Reno last night, and Cardenas made the defensive play of the night, going¬†behind second base to start a 4-6-3 double play. Keep an eye out to see if he also sees time at shortstop. The A’s are going to need somebody at that spot down the road.

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Don Fehr visits camp

The A’s were late taking the field this morning as MLB Players Association Executive Director Don Fehr was on site to discuss union-related matters with the team. Fehr travels from camp to camp throughout spring training meeting with teams. Afterward, Fehr chatted briefly with reporters. Can’t say he shed much light on things, but I thought I’d share some of what he touched on. It provides a break from those tedious injury updates, right??

*Fehr was asked about the slow-moving free agent market this past winter. On suspicions that owners may have colluded in not signing players and keeping free agent salaries down: “If and when we conclude there was a violation of the (collective bargainin agreement), everyone will know about it. All I can say is we’re looking.”

*On the speculation that the A’s could be considered for contraction, along with the Florida Marlins: “I haven’t heard that contraction has been discussed. If it ever gets serious, I’ll know about it. It’s not at that stage.”

*How does he think the legacy of players associated with steroids (such as the A’s Jason Giambi) might be tainted as the years go by?: “I get asked a lot about (this topic). I have opinions, and they’ve changed a lot. (What I’ve learned) is that how things are viewed after an event is not how they’re going to be viewed 10 or 15 years down the road. What I think about legacies doesn’t matter. That’s up to you guys.”

*Fehr said the union would have to wait until after the World Baseball Classic ends to consider whether or not any major changes to the WBC should be discussed. But he doesn’t see a better time on the calendar to hold the event than March. “This is the least worst time to have it.” Interesting way of putting it. …

On to more A’s-related discussion …

–Justin Duchscherer headed out to a back diamond at Phoenix Muni to play catch this morning. Bob Geren said there wasn’t any set agenda for the throwing session, other than to see how Duchscherer’s elbow is feeling. Tough to even speculate when he might get back on the mound …

–Outfielder Ben Copeland, the Rule 5 pick from the Giants that the A’s snagged in December, suffered a sternum injury when he slammed into the center field wall yesterday making a catch. Copeland visited a doctor yesterday and Geren said he’d be out a few days …

–Eric Chavez threw Saturday, Sunday and Monday without complications with his right shoulder. I’m not sure yet what he was scheduled for today. Still not solidified when Chavez might try hitting (which is the real key for his shoulder), but it won’t be Wednesday, when the A’s are off, Geren said …

–Dana Eveland and Santiago Casilla will both throw Wednesday in a minor league game.

**Today’s lineup against the visiting Diamondbacks. Matt Holliday is back w/the team after being sick, but he’s not starting:

Garciaparra 3B
Cabrera SS
Sweeney CF
Cust RF
Ellis DH
Suzuki C
Cunningham LF
Hannahan 1B
Petit 2B

Gallagher on the hill …


A’s intrasquad recap

The A’s just wrapped up their intrasquad game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, a three-inning affair won by the “home” team 1-0. Not much juicy to report. It’s funny … as a writer you look forward to days like these just because they offer something different after nearly two solid weeks of practice. But there’s just not much to glean until exhibitions start.

Having said that …

Right-hander Edgar Gonzalez looked good. He went three innings and gave up three hits. In the second, he allowed Landon Powell’s single, then struck out Bobby Crosby looking, Joe Dillon swinging and Chris Carter looking. As he fights for the fifth starter spot, Gonzalez may have a small advantage this spring because he just got done pitching in winter ball about two weeks ago in Mexico. Bob Geren said he expects Gonzalez to be sharp.

“He threw the ball real well. I liked his location, his movement, the way he changed speeds on his breaking ball.”

Craig Weissmann, the A’s scout who watched Gonzalez in Mexico, is visiting camp right now and said Gonzalez has good command of all four of his pitches — fastball, curve, slider and changeup.

As for other highlights today, Travis Buck had two singles from the leadoff spot for the visiting team. … Gregorio Petit knocked in the game’s only run when his single to right off Andrew Bailey scored Joel Galarraga. … Ben Copeland, the outfielder from the Giants organization that the A’s took in the Rule 5 draft, showed a pretty strong arm from right field during pregame drills. Geren said Copeland get his share of at-bats so the A’s can evaluate whether they want to keep him or send him back to S.F. …

That’s all for now …