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A’s 4, Twins 3

Just a quick update on the A’s outfield corps, which has suddenly gotten pretty thin. Aaron Cunningham left tonight’s game with a concussion after he was beaned in the helmet by an Anthony Swarzak fastball. Cunningham was taken to the hospital for X-rays, but there was no further update on his condition. The A’s were already down to four outfielders, because Ryan Sweeney went on the DL and they chose to promote first baseman Daric Barton rather than another outfielder. A trip to the DL would certainly seem possible for Cunningham, but we’ll know more tomorrow.

–Anyone out there got any thoughts on who the A’s will choose with the 13th pick in the draft tomorrow? The common logic is it will be a pitcher, since the top of the draft is so deep with pitching. I threw out a few candidates in my notebook for tomorrow’s paper, so check that out.

A couple names I didn’t throw out:

–Arizona State right-hander Mike Leake. The A’s drafted this kid out of high school back in 2006, and now he’s one of the top right-handers in this year’s class after a standout career as a Sun Devil. He doesn’t blow up the radar gun, but he’s said to have great command, and we know the A’s often value that more than velocity (see James Simmons: 2007).

–We’re talking a real dark-horse candidate here, but keep the name Mike Trout in mind. He’s a high school center fielder from New Jersey that Baseball America projects will go in the first round. I know GM Billy Beane was in New Jersey doing some scouting recently, though he could have been checking out any number of prospects. Anyway, this is a longshot, since the A’s haven’t taken a high school position player in the first round since Eric Chavez in 1996. But scouts think Trout is a five-tool guy, and his competitiveness draws comparisons to Aaron Rowand.
Just throwing this one out there.

When it comes to outfielders, they could also consider Sacramento State’s Tim Wheeler or Notre Dame’s A.J. Pollock. Or, they could just do the expected thing and grab a pitcher. We’ll find out tomorrow …

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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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Chavez now battling back problem

The injury news just doesn’t get any better for third baseman Eric Chavez. Already on the DL for an elbow problem, he’s now headed to Phoenix to have his back checked after an MRI yesterday showed a bulging disk. Chavez recently began having back spasms, which initiated the MRI. Bob Geren said they started Sunday, but Chavez wasn’t available before the game to clarify for sure. He’ll be examined by Phoenix-based specialist Dr. Rob Blackaby. Chavez was targeting Friday for a possible return, but now Geren said his return will be pushed back “a couple of weeks for sure.” Can’t say for certain is this is related to the lower back surgery he had in October 2007. …

This development makes a healthy return from Nomar Garciaparra even more important. I saw Garciaparra taking infield practice today, and he’s also been hitting. The thought is he might be ready to come off the DL for this weekend’s series in Detroit. “He’s optimistic about returning somewhat soon,” Geren said. “He’s definitely going to be with us in Detroit, and if he’s ready, I’ll activate him.”

Let’s get away from the injury news for a second, shall we? The clubhouse emptied out earlier than usual today, as the A’s held a players’ only meeting on the field before batting practice. Not sure what the motivation was, or who called it. But it’s time somebody lights a fire under this team before they dig too big of a hole to crawl out of.

You should have seen the show Matt Holliday was putting on during BP not long ago. He crushed at least two homers to center that hit near the strip of concrete running just underneath the luxury suites. Absolute bombs. Jason Giambi put a couple in the second deck in right field. … I know, I know. This is sort of like being impressed by NBA players dunking during a shootaround, right? But it’s still quite a spectacle to watch …

Dallas Braden’s left hand is doing better, but he’s still wearing an Ace bandage and you can still see the lace marks on his swollen knuckles. He said he’ll try throwing a bullpen session tomorrow. The plan is for Braden and Brett Anderson (blister) to start Friday and Saturday, or vice versa. But at this point, they’re both a question mark. Geren mentioned Sean Gallagher and Dan Giese as candidates who could fill in if needed. Doesn’t sound like the A’s plan to call anybody up to take those starts, but as we’ve found, things change quickly with this team.

Some encouraging news: After throwing a scoreless inning for Single-A Stockton on Saturday, reliever Santiago Casilla is scheduled to make another rehab appearance tonight for Triple-A Sacramento. If that goes well, he could be activated Friday.

Your A’s lineup for tonight:
Cabrera SS; Suzuki C; Giambi 1B; Holliday LF; Cust DH; Sweeney CF; Kennedy 2B; Buck RF; Hannahan 3B; Cahill P.

For the Royals:
Crisp CF; DeJesus LF; Teahen 3B; Guillen RF; Butler 1B; Jacobs DH; Callaspo 2B; Buck C; Aviles SS; Hochevar P.

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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.

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A’s trade for Adam Kennedy; he’ll start at 2B

Expect a different face out at second base for the A’s as soon as tomorrow. They acquired Adam Kennedy from the Tampa Bay Rays today for a player to be named later. He’s expected to arrive in Oakland tonight, and Bob Geren indicated he’d get Kennedy in the lineup immediately. “We’ll give him a shot to get out there,” Geren said. “He’s similar to other players here. He’s very experienced, he’s been in pennant races, the postseason. He’s a good base runner and good fielder, and he’ll bring another veteran presence to the team.”

Obviously the A’s felt they needed an experienced everyday-type player with Mark Ellis likely to miss at least another month with a strained left calf. And calf injuries can linger for longer than expected, so I’m sure that factored into the A’s decision-making. Although Gregorio Petit provided a spark at the plate last weekend in Seattle, they must not be sold on him as a starter. With Eric Chavez’s uncertain status, Bobby Crosby will be needed more at third base (Chavez took grounders today during batting practice, but I don’t believe he made any throws. I saw him tossing the ball to Jack Hannahan).

The A’s will have to bump somebody from the 40-man roster to make room for Kennedy, who was on Tampa’s Triple-A roster. Kennedy is a .276 hitter over his 10-year major league career. He was the Cardinals’ main second baseman last year, hitting .280 in 115 total games. Geren wouldn’t predict where he’d bat Kennedy in the lineup.

Other tidbits …

–Reliever Santiago Casilla will make a rehab appearance for Single-A Stockton tomorrow. He’ll pitch a couple days later for Triple-A Sacramento, and if his sprained knee is feeling good, he’ll be activated from the DL next Friday, when the A’s open a seven-game road trip in Detroit.

–Nomar Garciaparra ran again today, but no word on his timetable for coming off the DL. Ditto for Chavez.

–Lefty Brett Anderson has been throwing with a protective device on his left index finger to protect his blister. He isn’t likely to make his next start until next weekend in Detroit, Geren said. With two offdays before then, the A’s have some flexibility to rework their rotation a bit.

Tonight’s A’s lineup. Not surprisingly, it’s identical to the one that produced nine runs yesterday:

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

Blue Jays lineup: Scutaro SS; Hill 2B; Rios RF; Wells CF; Lind DH; Rolen 3B; Millar 1B; Barajas C; Bautista LF; Richmond P.

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Ellis won’t be returning soon; Casilla to DL

Not the cheeriest of blog titles if you’re an A’s fan, I know. I’m trying my best to provide some actual baseball news for you. But injuries are such a central theme in everything A’s-related right now, that’s the newsiest information circulating.

Second baseman Mark Ellis had an MRI on his strained left calf and he’s expected to miss anywhere from 4-6 weeks. Calves can be very slow to heal, so it doesn’t come as a big surprise. And w/Nomar Garciaparra on the DL with his chronic calf condition, it looks like he’s weeks away from rejoining the lineup as well. On the bright side, an MRI on third baseman Eric Chavez showed no structural damage in his right elbow. No forecast yet on whether he might be ready to play May 10, when he’s eligible to return from the DL.

The A’s made room for reliever Santiago Casilla on the 15-day DL with a sprained right knee. Lefty Gio Gonzalez was called up to take his spot in the bullpen. Casilla originally hurt his calf during Tuesday’s game at Texas, but he said yesterday that he was now feeling the pain near his knee. To be precise, it’s a sprained lateral collateral ligament, which is interesting to say out loud if you give it a try. Geren thinks there’s a good chance Casilla could come off the DL when he’s eligible May 14.

Gonzalez was 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA in four starts at Triple-A, but he’s needed in relief up here. He’s also the only left-handed reliever. Remember, he pitched well out of the ‘pen late in 2008 after struggling in the rotation. This doesn’t necessarily mean the A’s envision him as a reliever long-term, however.

Brad Ziegler is still battling the flu, so he’ll be unavailable for a third straight game. That leaves the ninth inning a bit of a question mark tonight. At the time of his media chat, Geren wasn’t sure about Russ Springer’s availability after pitching two straight days. Michael Wuertz or Andrew Bailey figure to get the call in a save situation tonight.

After saying Eric Patterson would see the majority of time at second base, Geren gave Gregorio Petit the start tonight. As for the rest of the A’s lineup:

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

Mariners lineup: Ichiro RF; Chavez LF; Griffey Jr. DH; Beltre 3B; Branyan 1B; Lopez 2B; Johnson C; Gutierrez CF; Betancourt SS; Washburn P.

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A’s pregame update: Friday

Just a few loose ends to tie up. We’re about an hour away from first pitch here at Safeco Field …

Eric Chavez has gone back to the Bay Area, and he’ll probably have tests on his elbow/forearm at some point, though Bob Geren didn’t know when that would be. Bobby Crosby is getting another start at third, with Eric Patterson starting for the second straight day at second base. Geren had good things to say about Patterson, indicating he’d get the majority of playing time at second for now over Gregorio Petit, who was called up earlier today. But considering that Petit hits right-handed and Patterson from the left side, I could see Petit getting some pinch-hit opportunities.

Not to state the obvious, but the absence of Eric Chavez AND Nomar Garciaparra has a pretty bad ripple effect on this lineup. Guys such as Kurt Suzuki get bumped up in the order (he’s hitting sixth tonight), and that weakens the bottom third of the order. It’s a pretty good situation when you can afford to bat a red-hot hitter like Suzuki as far down as the No. 7 spot, as the A’s did before the recent rash of injuries hit …

The good news: Jason Giambi is back at first base, though his hamstrings aren’t quite 100 percent.

Brad Ziegler is still under the weather. I didn’t see him in the clubhouse, but it looks like the A’s will have to go with other alternatives at closer tonight. Santiago Casilla (right calf) was scheduled to throw long toss before the game to see whether he might be available tonight. If he’s not, that leaves the A’s with five healthy relievers to back Dana Eveland.

A’s starting nine (plus Eveland)

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

Mariners starting nine (plus Carlos Silva)

Suzuki RF; Endy Chavez LF; Sweeney DH; Beltre 3B; Branyan 1B; Lopez 2B; Johjima C; Gutierrez CF; Betancourt SS.

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Eric Chavez placed on DL; Gregorio Petit arrives

Quick update here that won’t surprise you too much.

The A’s put third baseman Eric Chavez on the 15-day DL with what’s described as a strained right forearm. To fill his spot, middle infielder Gregorio Petit was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento. Petit had three different stints with Oakland last season and hit .348 in 14 games. He was not hitting great w/Sacramento this season, just .239 with a homer and three RBI in 19 games. But it’s not like any other infield candidate has been better at the plate. Petit has played second base and shortstop this year. I’m not sure if they’d consider him at third as well.

This gives the A’s six infielders, which they need right now considering Chavez, Mark Ellis and Nomar Garciaparra are on the DL, and Jason Giambi’s hamstrings are bothering him. …

More to come later …

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Chavez scratched after all

When it comes to the A’s lineup card, it’s always wise to keep the White Out handy. We didn’t find out until Oakland started batting in the top of the first that Eric Chavez was scratched from the lineup. Since the morning began, he went from playing first base, to playing third, to not playing at all. There’s been no further explanation yet, but my guess would be his elbow began acting up. Bobby Crosby is starting at third (and just made a sweet diving grab on Ian Kinsler’s grounder), with Landon Powell playing first …