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A’s sign Andy LaRoche, trade Mortensen to Rockies

Joe Stiglich is off this week, so just wanted to pass along the news that the A’s have signed free-agent third baseman Andy LaRoche to a minor-league contract on Monday. Also, pitcher Clayton Mortensen was dealt to Colorado for minor league pitcher Ethan Hollingsworth.

From the A’s release:

The Oakland A’s traded right-handed pitcher Clayton Mortensen to the Colorado Rockies for minor league right-handed pitcher Ethan Hollingsworth, the club announced today. The A’s also agreed to terms with third baseman Andy LaRoche on a minor league contract and have invited him to spring training.

Mortensen was designated for assigned last Tuesday when the A’s signed right-handed pitcher Grant Balfour. He made one start with Oakland in 2010 and had a no decision while posting a 4.50 ERA. Mortensen spent the balance of the season at Triple-A Sacramento, where he was 13-6 with a 4.25 ERA in 26 starts.

Hollingsworth spent most of the season at Single-A Modesto where he was 12-8 with a 3.31 ERA in 25 games, all starts. He tied for the California League lead in wins, ranked second in ERA, third in strikeouts (153) and innings pitched (160.1) and fourth in opponents batting average (.260). The 23-year old right-hander also went 0-0 with a 9.58 ERA in two starts with Double-A Tulsa. Hollingsworth was originally selected by Colorado in the 4th round of the 2008 draft. He will report to the A’s minor league camp this spring.

La Roche batted .206 with four home runs and 16 RBI in 102 games with Pittsburgh last year. He started 52 games at third base, four at second base and two at first base. The 27-year old right-handed hitter made his Major League debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2007 and is a .224 career hitter with 22 home runs and 108 in 363 games over four seasons.

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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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A’s Mazzaro likely to miss “1 or 2″ starts

So we’ll get our second look at right-hander Clayton Mortensen tonight as he fills in for Vin Mazzaro. Obviously, Mortensen wasn’t the most heralded of the three players the A’s obtained for Matt Holliday (Brett Wallace holds that distinction). But Mortensen can help himself with a solid outing because it looks like Mazzaro, suffering from shoulder tendinitis, could miss two starts. So pitching well tonight could earn Mortensen a second start.

According to Mazzaro, his shoulder started bothering him about two starts ago. “I didn’t really recover the way I normally do,” Mazzaro said. “I felt a little soreness. … I’ll get a few days off and bounce back. I’ll probably miss one or two starts. I’ll start throwing in five or six days. I’d like to get two or three more (starts before the season ends).”

He said his shoulder feels better today, but this is all new territory for him. He’s never had any shoulder or arm problems before, so he doesn’t know how to gauge the severity of an injury based on how it feels.

A’s manager Bob Geren said Mazzaro has to get through a side session with no problems before being considered for his next outing, but he added that there’s no thought (yet) to shutting the rookie down for the season.

Mortensen gave up eight runs in four innings in his A’s debut on Aug. 8 in Kansas City, and he was sent back to the minors immediately after that. Geren said Mortensen has terrific natural movement on his pitches, and that his key is just staying around the plate and letting that movement work for him (sounds similar to Trevor Cahill).

Two faces in tonight’s lineup that you haven’t seen for a while: Bobby Crosby playing first base and Nomar Garciaparra at DH. Geren wanted to get as many righties as possible in the lineup, as Mariners left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith is very tough on lefties. With Adam Kennedy showing some recent life at the plate (three straight multi-hit games), Geren wanted to keep him out there at third. But that guy is gonna need a rest one of these days, I’d say. …

Tonight’s lineups, featuring Mike Sweeney as a late replacement for Ken Griffey Jr. as Seattle’s DH …
A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Suzuki C
Hairston LF
Nomar DH
Ellis 2B
Crosby 1B
Sweeney RF
Pennington SS

Mortensen RHP

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

Rowland-Smith LHP