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Movin’ out day — lineups for A’s season finale

Boxes were scattered everywhere in the A’s clubhouse this morning and players were shaking hands all around — there’s no hiding it’s the last day of the season.

A’s manager Bob Geren decided to pitch all relievers today, w/Brad Kilby starting. So expect lots of pitching changes. “Honestly, I think it gives us the best chance to win, and that’s been the goal since spring training,” Geren said. Edgar Gonzalez had been the previously announced starter. But Gonzalez is a known quantity to the A’s, and emptying the bullpen gives Geren one last chance to see a lot of relievers.

Here’s today’s lineups, featuring two players likely playing their final game in an A’s uniform — third baseman Bobby Crosby and DH Nomar Garciaparra:

A’s
Davis CF
Ellis 2B
Suzuki C
Nomar DH
Crosby 3B
Barton 1B
Carson RF
Patterson LF
Pennington SS

Kilby LHP

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

Saunders LHP

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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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Crosby reinstated from DL; Patterson draws start in left field

Trevor Cahill takes the hill today as the A’s try to claim this three-game series against Kansas City. You have to like their chances based on how Cahill has pitched over his last four outings. If he is dialed in, it’ll be interesting to see how long Bob Geren sticks w/him. Out of all four of the rookies in the rotation, the A’s are most concerned with the innings Cahill and Brett Anderson are piling up. Cahill leads major league rookies with 153 1/3 IP.

No Scott Hairston in left field today after he aggravated his left quad last night. Geren thinks Hairston could return tomorrow or Friday, but Eric Patterson starts today, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Patterson in left for the next couple of days. If Hairston doesn’t show signs of improvement, Geren said the A’s would consider calling up another outfielder (figure Travis Buck or Aaron Cunningham as leading candidates in that scenario). But I wouldn’t say there’s a ton of concern over Hairston right now. As for today, Geren said he’d like to try getting the running game going, so if Patterson gets on base, look for him to be active …

–Bobby Crosby was reinstated from the DL as expected, and you can expect to see him at third base in this weekend’s Seattle series. Adam Kennedy can flat-out use a break right now, wouldn’t you say? He hasn’t had an extra-base hit in his past 16 games, and with the Mariners starting left-handers Friday and Saturday, Geren said he’ll start Crosby at third one of those days. Geren even mentioned giving Crosby a possible start at first base over the weekend.

–No shocker here, as Geren said he’ll stick w/Edgar Gonzalez in the rotation based on last night’s solid outing. But Gonzalez’s next turn would fall on Monday’s day off, so there’s a possibility he could be skipped …

Today’s lineups

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

Cahill RHP

Royals
DeJesus LF
Bloomquist 2B
Callaspo 3B
Jacobs 1B
Pena C
Guillen DH
Maier RF
Betancourt SS
Anderson CF

Bannister RHP

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A’s promote relievers Blevins, Eveland, Kilby; Braden still doubtful to return

The A’s clubhouse got a little more crowded this afternoon, with left-handers Jerry Blevins, Dana Eveland and Brad Kilby getting called up on the first day big league rosters can expand to 40. That gives Bob Geren 10 relievers at his disposal (including five lefties), with Edgar Gonzalez moving into the expanded six-man rotation.

You’re pretty familiar w/Eveland and Blevins, who were both on the Opening Day roster. Kilby, 26, is getting his first major league action. Click here for a little information on the San Jose State product.

–Random thought, just for the heck of it: After playing the EXACT SAME batting practice soundtrack for the entire season, we finally have some fresh pre-game tunes being played over the PA. I guess Sept. 1 means that the CD collection expands as well …

And now back to business …

Eveland began the year in the A’s rotation but struggled and was sent down. He came back up for a spot start in Boston on July 6, but was sent right back down afterward. Interesting that the A’s promoted him considering he was 0-4 with a 7.88 ERA over his past five starts. But he’s got substantial big league experience, and he’s at least a pretty known quantity. The A’s saw Blevins as a key part of their bullpen when the season began, but he also struggled and has spent most of the season at Triple-A Sacramento.

Bob Geren said he sees Eveland filling the long reliever role previously held down by Gonzalez, and he said it’s possible the two could flip-flop — with Eveland taking on the starting role — at some point. Geren sees Blevins and Kilby as one-inning type guys right now, and said he wants to find some low-pressure situations to ease them into at first.

Dallas Braden is back w/the team, but isn’t throwing right now. He reiterated that doctors have told him rest is the best remedy for the “traumatized” nerve in his left foot. Does he expect to pitch again this season? “The urgency to get out and prove it’s healthy isn’t there,” Braden said. “If it’s getting better and I get back on the mound, so be it. If not, we’ll look forward to next season.”

As for other possible call-ups, Geren said he doesn’t see a third catcher coming up right now. No real timetable for when other position players may show up in Oakland. I’d expect them to show up one at a time, every few days or so. The A’s aren’t looking to deplete Sacramento’s roster w/the River Cats heading to the playoffs.

Here’s tonight’s lineups:

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

E. Gonzalez RHP

Royals
DeJesus LF
Maier RF
Butler 1B
Jacobs DH
Callaspo 2B
Teahen 3B
Olivo C
Anderson CF
Betancourt SS

Davies 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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Adenhart’s memory lives on

The A’s pregame routine has been pushed back here in Anaheim, with first pitch not until 7:25. The Angels are inducting outfielder Brian Downing and pitcher Chuck Finley into their Hall of Fame before the game.

It was something to walk up to the entrance at Angel Stadium today and see the memorial that still sits out front for Nick Adenhart. It was first started April 9, just hours after the Angels pitcher died in a car crash. Basically, there’s a big circle with flowers and Adenhart T-shirts in the middle of it. Ringing the memorial are hundreds of hats that people left, most of them with hand-written messages about Adenhart. All three victims who died in that crash will be honored before Saturday’s game. Jon Wilhite, the lone crash survivor and a good friend of Kurt Suzuki’s, is supposed to throw out the first pitch.

–As for A’s news, Bob Geren said we can expect some pitchers called up Sept. 1 when rosters expand, but probably not any position players that day (he didn’t say how many pitchers).

Geren added that Edgar Gonzalez is a strong candidate to start Sept. 1, which would signal the start of a six-man rotation. But that depends on if (and in what capacity) Gonzalez is needed before then. He hasn’t appeared in a game since Aug. 15, and Geren wants to get him at least a brief outing before Sept. 1. … I could see why …

–Bobby Crosby ran some sprints today to test his strained left calf. He has yet to run the bases, but the A’s say he’s very close to being ready. He’s eligible to come off the DL on Sept. 2.

–Niko Gallego, the 20-year-old son of A’s infield coach Mike Gallego, took grounders at shortstop during batting practice and looked pretty smooth (I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree). Niko will be a junior at UCLA next season and just got done playing in the wood-bat Cape Cod League.

Here’s tonight’s lineups for Game 1 of a four-game series w/the AL West-leading Angels:

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

Cahill RHP

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

Santana RHP

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High praise for Adrian Gonzalez

With last night’s game going so long, I was on a pretty tight deadline and didn’t get a chance to address the A’s handling of Adrian Gonzalez all that much. Bob Geren talked about Gonzalez in his pregame media chat today. The A’s walked him four times — twice intentionally. One time came w/runners on the corners and one out in the sixth, with the game tied. That loaded the bases for Kevin Kouzmanoff, who singled in two runs. Geren said he had no regrets walking Gonzalez in that situation. The first baseman is tied for the major league lead with 23 homers and leads the majors with 57 walks. I didn’t have any problem with the call, either. One San Diego writer pointed out last night that Padres hitters, in general, have been pretty bad this season in the at-bat after Gonzalez draws a walk.

“On this team, it’s compared to the way Barry (Bonds) was treated in San Francisco,” Geren said, showing plenty of respect for Gonzalez. “There’s a lot of situations where you have to pitch to him. Other times you have to be careful.”

As for A’s news, Josh Outman said he was pleasantly surprised with how his left elbow felt this morning after he departed last night’s game in the second inning. He’s getting checked by a local orthopedist at the stadium tonight. Still no word on whether he’ll make his next start Wednesday against the Giants. …

With Edgar Gonzalez unavailable after last night’s extended outing, Geren said Santiago Casilla would be his long man tonight if needed. He’s hoping he won’t have to call on one. The A’s would love to get a lengthy outing from starter Brett Anderson, who hasn’t been sharp in each of his past two starts.

Tonight’s lineups, featuring the return of Ryan Sweeney in center field for Oakland. San Diego’s pitcher bats eighth once again:

A’s
Kennedy 2B
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Suzuki C
O. Cabrera SS
Sweeney CF
Hannahan 3B
Anderson P

Padres
Gwynn CF
Eckstein 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Headley 3B
Blanks LF
Alfonzo C
Venable RF
Silva P
E. Cabrera SS

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Mazzaro to make A’s debut tomorrow

As the A’s start a four-game series w/the White Sox, the big news in pre-game was that hotshot pitching prospect Vin Mazzaro will be called up to start tomorrow night. The A’s have an open spot because two starters were needed for Friday’s doubleheader in Texas, and all signs pointed toward Tuesday’s outing being a one-shot deal for somebody. Not so, Bob Geren says. Mazzaro will start tomorrow and remain in the rotation for the foreseeable future. Edgar Gonzalez will move to the bullpen. Of course, the A’s will need to clear a roster spot for Mazzaro, so Gonzalez could be a candidate for Triple-A.

“Vin has been exceptional at Triple-A. We all feel he’s ready to go,” Geren said.

I’d have to think that this weekend’s series in Texas — when the A’s lost three of four to drop 10 games back in the AL West — spurred this decision in a big way. There’s lots of season left, but this move is the sign of a team looking toward the future (w/good reason, I’d say). But Geren didn’t bite on the topic when asked about it.

“Honestly, I think he gives us the best chance to win. If he’s 20 years old or 30 years old, he gives us the best chance to win.”

In any case, it didn’t take long for the A’s to get all three of their top pitching prospects — Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Vin Mazzaro — into the rotation at the same time. This will make things interesting, or as interesting as a 19-29 team can possibly be, right????

By the way, check out Mazzaro’s stats at Triple-A Sacramento. Over his last four starts: 0.33 ERA, 21 K’s, 4 walks, 9 hits, one run …

Tonight’s lineups, featuring Gavin Floyd starting for the Sox in place of Bartolo Colon:

A’s — Cabrera SS; Kennedy 2B; Cust DH; Holliday LF; Giambi 1B; Suzuki C; Sweeney CF; Cunningham RF; Hannahan 3B; Cahill P.

White Sox — Podsednik LF; Ramirez SS; Dye RF; Thome DH; Konerko 1B; Pierzynksi C; Fields 3B; Wise CF; Nix 2B; Floyd P.

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A’s-Rangers: Let’s play two

Just checking in before the first game of today’s A’s doubleheader in Arlington. Not a whole lot to report from the pre-game scene. Bob Geren said Jack Cust (lower back spasms) and Travis Buck (oblique strain) were questionable, but both are in the lineup for first pitch. Buck apparently hurt his oblique before Wednesday’s game.

Things to watch tonight:
–Edgar Gonzalez’s performance in the nightcap. A solid outing probably solidifies him in the rotation for the time being. If he struggles, that could impact how soon we see a high-profile prospect such as Vin Mazzaro get promoted. Regardless of how Gonzalez does tonight, the A’s need to call up a starter for Tuesday’s game at Chicago, as they play five games over this four-day stretch through Monday.

–Adam Kennedy is batting second and Kurt Suzuki sixth in the current lineup for the first game, not surprising because Geren said he might do this against right-handed starters. Texas has two righties going tonight in Tommy Hunter and Scott Feldman.

First game lineups –
A’s:
Cabrera SS; Kennedy 2B; Cust DH; Holliday LF; Giambi 1B; Suzuki C; Sweeney CF; Buck RF; Hannahan 3B; Outman P.

Rangers:
Kinsler 2B; Young 3B; Hamilton CF; Jones DH; Cruz RF; Byrd LF; Davis 1B ; Saltalamacchia C; Andrus SS; Hunter P.