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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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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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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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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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Let the campaign begin: Geren pushes Andrew Bailey for Rookie of the Year

It’s that time of the season when end-of-the-year award discussions start coming into focus. And if you’re bummed about where the A’s sit in the AL West standings, take heart that closer Andrew Bailey is squarely in the AL Rookie of the Year talk. He got a boost today by being named the AL Rookie of the Month for August, when he had 11 scoreless outings and was perfect in seven save opportunities.

Think Bailey will be hurt by the A’s 59-74 record? The New York Times ran this story a couple of days ago that listed him as the AL favorite. You figure Bailey’s selection to the All-Star team will boost his profile in a lot of voters’ eyes. A’s manager Bob Geren gave his endorsement in today’s pregame media chat. “Hopefully the (Rookie of the Month award) will lead on to Rookie of the Year,” Geren said. “He’s had that kind of year … I see him more than anyone, so he’s got my vote.”

Actually, Geren doesn’t have a vote. Rookie of the Year (just like MVP, Cy Young and Manager of the Year) is voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. But you get his point.

As for Bailey’s competition, Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold will get serious consideration. White Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham and Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus are in the conversation. Their advantage is each had lots of hype before they even reached the majors, so they’ve been on the radar for some time now. But it’s hard to argue with Bailey’s credentials to this point, or his importance to his team. Right now, I’d have to give him my vote. Of course, like Geren, I’ve seen Bailey much more than anyone else.

I’ll open it up to readers: Do you think Bailey is the man for Rookie of the Year?

–Scott Hairston (left quad) is out of the lineup for a second straight day, w/Eric Patterson playing left for the A’s.

– Geren has set his rotation for the upcoming eight-game road trip that begins Tuesday. The A’s are off Monday and next Thursday, so that gives him some wiggle room to re-arrange guys.

At Chicago: Brett Tomko, Trevor Cahill

At Minnesota: Vin Mazzaro, Edgar Gonzalez, Tomko

At Texas: Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Cahill

Basically, he’s set it up where Tomko will pitch on regular four days’ rest; Cahill and Mazzaro will get six days’ rest, and Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez will get eight days rest between starts.

Tonight’s lineups in the opener of a four-game set w/Seattle:

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

Tomko RHP

Mariners
Ichiro RF
Gutierrez CF
Lopez 2B
Griffey Jr. DH
Beltre 3B
Hall LF
Carp 1B
Johjima C
Wilson SS

Snell RHP

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A’s pregame update: Edgar Gonzalez will start Tuesday, Tomko goes Wednesday

All’s quiet this morning on the A’s front … Sunday mornings are odd because there’s usually no regular BP on the field. The pitchers stretch at their own separate time, and players pop in and out of the batting cage at their leisure. Mostly, players were just sitting around watching the Yankees-White Sox on TV. Probably not real different from how you spent your Sunday morning …

A little news to share w/you …

–Edgar Gonzalez is starting Tuesday unless something unexpected happens. Brett Tomko is slated for Wednesday, which bumps him ahead of Trevor Cahill in the rotation to give Cahill a little extra rest. Manager Bob Geren had mentioned yesterday that Tomko could stay on regular days’ rest in the six-man rotation to give the younger guys a longer break. The A’s will especially monitor the innings of Cahill and Brett Anderson, today’s starter, since those two will surpass their innings from 2008 by such a large margin.

–Geren acknowledged it’s real doubtful Dallas Braden returns from his foot infection in time to rejoin the rotation. A little bullpen duty is still a possibility in Geren’s mind, but like I’ve mentioned here before, I would just shut Braden down and make sure he’s good for 2010. My guess is that will happen.

–Asked if there’s a definitive plan for call-ups on Tuesday when rosters expand, Geren said talks have centered “99 percent about pitching.” That means no Travis Buck, at least not right away. There is a chance they could promote a catcher, Geren said. Eric Munson would be the lead candidate …

–Bobby Crosby is expected to be activated from the DL on Wednesday without going on a rehab assignment. My guess is his playing time would likely come at third or second base, whenever Adam Kennedy or Mark Ellis might need a rest. You figure the A’s will keep running Daric Barton and Cliff Pennington out to first base and shortstop, respectively, to evaluate them as much as possible …

Today’s lineups, featuring Ryan Sweeney batting third. Kurt Suzuki and Scott Hairston both have the day off, and Geren likes the way Sweeney is swinging, so he gets bumped to the middle of the order …

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

Anderson LHP

Angels
Figgins 3B
Aybar SS
Hunter CF
Vlad DH
Rivera LF
Morales 1B
Kendrick 2B
Matthews Jr. RF
Mathis C

Lackey RHP

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Bobby Crosby getting closer; other Saturday tidbits

It’s another warm evening here in Anaheim, where I’m guessing we’ll have an emotional pregame ceremony for Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, Henry Pearson and Courtney Stewart, who were all killed in an April 9 car accident, which happened the last time the A’s played a series at Angel Stadium …

–Bobby Crosby ran the bases today for the first time to test his strained left calf. If all went well, he looks on target to return from the DL on WEdnesday when he’s eligible. Crosby doesn’t think he’ll need a rehab assignment in the minors to get back in game shape. The A’s could use the infield depth he provides, as they’ve been playing with a short-handed bench.

–Geren won’t say for certain that Edgar Gonzalez will start Tuesday, but Gonzalez is definitely the lead candidate if he’s not needed in relief before then. With Gonzalez’s addition, the A’s will start the six-man rotation they’ve talked about to give their younger starters some extra rest. Geren said the rotation could be tinkered with on occasion, with veteran Brett Tomko pitching on regular four days’ rest occasionally to give some of the rookies even more rest.

Tonight’s lineups:

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

Mazzaro RHP

Angels
Figgins 3B
Abreu RF
Hunter CF
Guerrero DH
Morales 1B
Izturis SS
Napoli C
Matthews Jr. LF
Kendrick 2B

Weaver RHP

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First base is Daric Barton’s — for now

Didn’t the A’s roster activity seem unusually quiet in recent days? That ended today, as first baseman Tommy Everidge was optioned to Triple-A and outfielder/second baseman Eric Patterson was recalled.

It’s a bit of a surprise considering indications were that Everidge and Daric Barton would split time as the A’s evaluated both first base prospects. But Bob Geren pointed out that Patterson provides a versatile option off the bench, especially w/left fielder Scott Hairston nursing a sore quad and center fielder Rajai Davis playing with a fractured thumb.

The big-picture impact is that the A’s want Barton to get the majority of at-bats at first. Asked if Barton is the primary guy at first base for the rest of the season, Geren responded, “Yeah.” He left the door open to Everidge returning when rosters expand, but it’s clear the A’s want to give Barton a hard look. … I wouldn’t read too much into this as far as the A’s plans for next season, because you figure Chris Carter, Sean Doolittle and possibly Brett Wallace will all be in the first base mix in spring training. But Barton gets his chance to leave a strong imprint heading into the offseason, much like Cliff Pennington at shortstop.

Patterson split his latest stint in Sacramento between center field, left field and second base. I see center being his best chance for playing time up here, as Davis could probably use a little rest for his thumb.

–Other newsie bits: Bobby Crosby said his calf feels good after running sprints yesterday. He’s taking today off from running but looks like he could be ready Wednesday, when he’s eligible to come off the DL. … Geren reiterated that Edgar Gonzalez is his preference to start Tuesday at Kansas City, which would set into motion a six-man rotation.

–I’ve mentioned this before about Brett Tomko, who starts tonight: It’s unusual to see a starter, on the day he’s pitching, hang out on the field w/the rest of the team when it comes out to stretch. Starting pitchers typically hole up in the clubhouse until they’re ready to start their pregame throwing. But Tomko seems to enjoy being w/the team. I’ll have to ask him about it …

The lineups:

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

Tomko RHP

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

Bell RHP

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Postgame Andrew Bailey update

Just a quick update on A’s closer Andrew Bailey following the A’s 2-0 win over the Angels. Bailey was visited by manager Bob Geren and assistant trainer Walt Horn after tweaking his left knee while fielding Torii Hunter’s bunt in the ninth inning. The knee has bothered Bailey for much of the season, but he stayed in the game and wasn’t overly concerned about it afterward.

“As soon as I went down (to the field the bunt) it gave out a little,” Bailey said. “It’s just something I’ve got to battle through.”

A win over Ervin Santana isn’t always something you expect from the A’s. They’ll try to make it two in a row tomorrow night as Brett Tomko faces Trevor Bell …