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A’s pregame report: Tuesday

It’s tough sorting out who’s coming and going from the A’s roster these days, wouldn’t you say?

With Sean Gallagher shipped out to the minors, the plan is for right-hander Edgar Gonzalez to make Saturday’s start against Arizona. Unless, Bob Geren said as a qualifier, he’s needed in relief before then. And would you bet against that possibility, with the way the starting pitching has been?

I thought Gio Gonzalez was a strong candidate to make that start, but assistant GM David Forst said in a pre-game media briefing that the priority right now is to keep the bullpen fully stocked. “Gio did a nice job, but with him being unavailable over the next three or four days, we needed to make a move.” Forst said elite prospect Vin Mazzaro was considered. You’ll remember he made a nice impression in spring training, but showed that he needed more seasoning. He’s 1-2 with a 3.16 ERA in eight appearances (seven starts) for Sacramento. “Vinny’s pitched well and he deserved to be in consideration,” Forst said. “But his development is more important. Right now he’s doing a nice job there, and we prefer for it to continue.”

Landon Powell is nursing a sore right hamstring, and though Geren said he considers Powell available if needed, the A’s are skating on thin ice at this position right now. But in looking at their minor league catching options, Curtis Thigpen hasn’t played all season because of a back injury, and Joel Galarraga is nursing a sore shoulder. Eric Munson is starting at Triple-A, and Anthony Recker, recently demoted to Double-A, was brought back to Triple-A just because depth was needed. So the A’s are crossing their fingers that Kurt Suzuki stays healthy. Jack Hannahan is the emergency catcher if needed.

Eric Chavez doesn’t figure to be ready for another month or so anyway, so I wasn’t surprised to see him go on the 60-day DL. But I just talked to Chavez, and he said he’s definitely shooting to be ready by the time he’s eligible to come off the DL. Believe me, retirement is nowhere on this guy’s agenda, which might surprise you.

More comments from Chavez in tomorrow’s notebook …

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

Rays lineup: Upton CF; Crawford LF; Longoria 3B; Pena 1B; Bartlett SS; Aybar DH; Iwamura 2B; Kapler RF; Hernandez C; Shields P.

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A’s minor league recap: Gallagher starts Saturday in Sacramento

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

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

The RiverCats added Sean Gallagher Thursday when the onetime Chicago Cub pitcher was optioned to Sacramento by the A’s. Gallagher will
join the starting rotation and make his first start in Sacramento on Saturday night against Las Vegas (Blue Jays).
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A’s minor league recap: The longball finally arrives

The A’s minor leaguers hadn’t flexed their muscles much over the first week and a half of the season, with their four affiliates hitting just five home runs over a total of 30 games. The power was on Friday night, though.
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A’s minor league recap: Cunningham injures shoulder

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

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

The bad news from Sacramento isn’t that the River Cats dropped three of four to Tacoma (Mariners) following Sunday’s 6-3 defeat, it was the loss of outfielder Aaron Cunningham, who is out with a separated right shoulder.

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Denorfia’s walkoff HR snaps losing streak

Chris Denorfia lined a two-run homer to left field off Franklin Morales in the bottom of the ninth to lift the A’s past Colorado 7-6 today. That snapped the A’s 10-game Cactus League losing streak, their longest in spring training since records started being kept in 1986.

–Sean Gallagher wasn’t his sharpest in five innings, and both he and Bob Geren said he was leaving too many pitches over the plate after getting ahead of hitters. Gallagher got a not-so-subtle hint that he needs to pull it together, as GM Billy Beane grabbed him for a private chat as reporters were showing up to the clubhouse to talk to him. “Just basically lighting a little fire under the butt,” Gallagher said of the conversation. Gallagher is on turn to pitch Friday’s Bay Bridge Series game against the Giants, and would then pitch the third game of the regular season if the current rotation holds. I don’t see an obvious replacement for him if he wasn’t in the starting rotation. Josh Outman is an option, but he’s coming off a poor outing.

–The A’s sent six players down to the minors after the game. They optioned reliever Chris Schroder, infielder Gregorio Petit and outfielder Aaron Cunningham to Triple-A, and reassigned right-hander Edgar Gonzalez, catcher Joel Galarraga and infielder Corey Wimberly to minor league camp.

The biggest news there involves Gonzalez, who had pitched his way out of contention for the starting rotation but still could have been a long relief candidate. The A’s will keep at least one long reliever (Geren hasn’t ruled out two), and Outman and Gio Gonzalez are the top contenders for that …

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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 …

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Edgar Gonzalez in rotation mix

One of the A’s two no-shows in camp, right-hander Edgar Gonzalez, arrived this morning and is on the field w/the team. He’s a non-roster player, but from the way Bob Geren has talked about him, he’s considered a legit candidate for the fifth starter spot. Because he just pitched in the Mexican Pacific League this winter, he shouldn’t be behind the other pitchers. Gonzalez spent parts of the past six seasons w/ Arizona. He turns 26 on Monday. “I know we always admired his work from afar,” Geren said. “We had an opportunity to sign him, and I’m happy we did.”

Geren said Gonzalez will play catch today, throw a side session tomorrow and then go three innings in Tuesday’s intrasquad game. He’s slated to throw on the last day of the A’s five-man rotation once Cactus League games begin (That doesn’t mean he starts those games necessarily. It’s too early to read much into who pitches on what days). Non-roster catcher Joel Galarraga is the only player who hasn’t arrived in camp, but he’s expected soon. Like Gonzalez, he experienced visa problems in Mexico.

–Check out this story, which says the Dodgers have begun talks with free agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera. Interestingly, Cabrera apparently is willing to play second base in Dodger Blue. The indications I’m getting from within the A’s organization is that dialogue with Cabrera has slowed down recently, so L.A. could have the inside track on him.