6

Gabe Gross quotes, other leftovers from busy A’s Monday

***I heard back from Gabe Gross tonight (after turning my story in) and just thought I’d share with you some highlights of the conversation. Safe to say he’s pretty psyched about his situation w/the A’s:

–He compared the A’s potential to that of his 2008 Rays team, a 94-win squad that made the World Series that season and went worst-to-first in the AL East. “I’ve been a part of one of the biggest upset stories in (baseball) history, it seems, with the 2008 Rays. There seems no reason that a team with as much talent on it (as the A’s), especially from a starting pitching standpoint, can’t do the same thing.”

–A’s GM Billy Beane said the team has pursued Gross in the past. Maybe that’s why Gross felt he eventually would be wearing green and gold someday: “I felt for one reason or another I’d wind up in Oakland one day. I’m glad to be there now. I feel like, the way I play the game, and the things I do well, are things they appreciate and look for in players. It seems my game fits well with their idea of the way the game is played.”

–Gross says he’s comfortable in all three outfield spots but that he’s probably most at home in center field, where he’s played the least. “It’s probably the easiest spot to play as far as angles and routes. When the ball is hit to one side, it stays to that side.”

***I was talking to Beane today about his outfield situation, which could be set with Rajai Davis, Coco Crisp and Ryan Sweeney starting, Gabe Gross as a backup, and Jack Cust as a possible fifth outfielder when he’s not DH. Beane also threw Eric Patterson’s name into the mix as someone with a great shot of making the Opening Day roster. “He played well last year, he’s got versatility, he can back up at second. Given his performance, he certainly deserves that opportunity.” Noticeably absent from the discussion was Travis Buck, who is stewing over his status w/the team. Not that Buck’s low spot on the totem pole is a revelation. That’s been obvious for some time now.

****In a bit of housekeeping news, the A’s have re-signed right-hander Dan Giese to a minor league deal. Giese is recovering from Tommy John surgery on his elbow, which was performed in June. He was expected then to be out 12-18 months. …

That’s all for now … 19 days until pitchers and catchers report.

1

Sweeney sidelined with knee trouble; Buck draws start

Another A’s outfielder is ailing as the season winds down. Right fielder Ryan Sweeney’s knees are bothering him, particularly his left one. He’s not in the lineup tonight, and manager Bob Geren said he’d know tomorrow whether Sweeney will miss the final four games. Sweeney joins Scott Hairston on the injured list (Hairston has been shut down with quad, hip and back injuries). Sweeney’s knees have been an issue for much of the season, but aside from one DL stint in June, he’s played through the pain. His absence means playing time for Travis Buck, who draws just his second start since being recalled Sept. 19.

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s: Kennedy 3B; Davis CF; Suzuki C; Cust DH; Barton 1B; Ellis 2B; Patterson LF; Buck RF;Pennington SS; Mortensen RHP.

M’s: Ichiro RF; Gutierrez CF; Lopez 2B; Griffey Jr. DH; Beltre 3B; Johjima C; Hannahan 1B; Wilson SS; Saunders LF; Morrow RHP.

0

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

0

A’s-Rangers lineups; pondering Landon Powell’s future role

A little different look to the A’s lineup today, not surprising for a day game after a night game. Eric Patterson is at second base, Travis Buck is in left field and Landon Powell is catching, plans that manager Bob Geren had indicated last night.

Geren was asked if Powell might be a consideration for more DH/first base duty next season, based on how well he’s hit. Geren wasn’t specific, but said he would try to find Powell more at-bats somehow, depending on how the roster shapes up. That’s an interesting idea to ponder. With this year’s offense lacking in the power department, Powell’s presence could provide a little more pop. But that depends on A) How healthy he would remain with increased playing time; B) whether he could improve enough at first base to not be a defensive liability; C) whether the A’s re-sign Jack Cust and what other DH options they might have; and D) who else they might sign/trade for over the winter.

Anyway, here’s your lineups as the A’s prepare to head out on a six-game road trip:

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

Anderson LHP

Rangers
Kinsler 2B
Andrus SS
Murphy LF
Jones DH
Blalock 1B
Byrd CF
Davis 3B
Teagarden C
Gentry RF

Feldman RHP

0

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

0

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

0

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

0

Eric Patterson optioned to make room for Reineke

Well, that extended audition Eric Patterson was supposed to get in center field is over — for now at least. Patterson was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento to make room on the A’s roster for right-hander Chad Reineke, who starts tonight against Texas.

If you’ve seen what Patterson has done at Triple-A, you’re probably frustrated that he has yet to carry that success over to the bigs. He hit just .182 (4-for-22) in 10 games since being called up July 24. I think the A’s still want to give him a longer look (Bob Geren said as much), but in the short time Patterson was here, he didn’t look comfortable at the plate or in center, to be honest.

Dallas Braden’s ankle injury is thought to be short term, and since he didn’t go on the DL, Patterson was the unlucky guy to go to make room for Reineke. And with the way Rajai Davis is playing, you know he’s going to get the majority of time in center for now, and rightly so.

Braden isn’t limping nearly as bad as yesterday, and he expects to be able to make his next scheduled start Monday in Baltimore. Tonight’s start looks like a one-time gig for Reineke, who was trying on hats and getting acclimated to the Oakland clubhouse this afternoon. The scouting report is that he’s a sinker/slider guy, and that defenders like playing behind him because he usually throws strikes.

–Status quo on the Jason Giambi front, meaning no indication when (or if) the A’s will activate him. Geren was asked if we could expect to see Giambi activated at all the rest of the season. “We have a lot of different roster moves and decisions to make in a short time,” Geren said. “Promising anything in this game is very difficult to do. I don’t make blanket statements about anybody.” Those decisions he mentioned surely revolve around Daric Barton — and when he might be healthy enough to return from the DL — and fellow first baseman Tommy Everidge, who has looked good at the plate since getting called up last week.

–You might have seen the story on our Web site that the A’s signed right-hander Brett Tomko to a minor league deal and assigned him to Sacramento. Once upon a time he was a key member of the Giants’ rotation …

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

Reineke RHP

Rangers
Vizquel 2B
Young 3B
Murphy LF
Byrd CF
Blalock 1B
Jones DH
Hamilton RF
Teagarden C
Andrus SS

Padilla RHP

0

A’s-Rangers pregame update — Monday

There was a bigger audience than normal for batting practice tonight at the Coliseum, as the A’s high Single-A squad, the Stockton Ports, are on hand to watch tonight’s game. I was looking at these guys and wondering how soon some of them might be wearing green and gold. The next year or two? It’s realistic considering how quickly the A’s promote some of their guys through the system, wouldn’t you say?

The team isn’t tipping its hand on whether Jason Giambi will be activated from the DL tomorrow, and how much playing time he’ll get if/when he does return. But, when asked about Tommy Everidge, manager Bob Geren responded, “I’m going to give him a chance to play.” That might tell us a lot. Everidge obviously won’t be heading back to the minors regardless of whether Giambi gets activated. Everidge is at first base tonight, w/Jack Cust at DH.

The starting outfield tonight — left to right — goes Scott Hairston, Eric Patterson, Ryan Sweeney. Not a surprise that Geren has two left-handed bats in there (Patterson, Sweeney) against Texas right-hander Dustin Nippert. Look for Rajai Davis to get back in there tomorrow against lefty Derek Holland.

The lineups
A’s
Kennedy 3B
Suzuki C
Hairston LF
Cust DH
Sweeney RF
Everidge 1B
Ellis 2B
Patterson CF
Pennington SS

Anderson LHP

Rangers
Arias 2B
Young 3B
Byrd LF
Cruz RF
Blalock 1B
Jones DH
Hamilton CF
Saltalamacchia C
Andrus SS

Nippert RHP

0

Barton to the DL; Tommy Everidge called up to play first

With the A’s preparing to retire Rickey Henderson’s No. 24 on Aug. 1, the Red Sox will honor their own 2009 Hall of Fame inductee tonight. Jim Rice’s No. 14 will be retired in a pregame ceremony. Nice work by the Sox’s groundskeeping crew, as there’s a big “14″ cut into the grass in left field, where Rice played for Boston.

As for A’s news, Daric Barton was placed on the DL as expected with a strained left hamstring, and first baseman Tommy Everidge was promoted from Triple-A Sacramento for his major league debut. He’s starting at first. A press release lists Everidge at 6-feet, 275 pounds. For you NFL fans, think of Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, the old Saints fullback. Now you’ve got your visual … This dude looks like he’s got some power.

And talk about paying your dues: Everidge is 26, and in his sixth year with the organization after being drafted in 2004. He’s never even been invited to major league spring training, and he’s only been inside a handful of major league parks as a fan. He’s a pretty soft-spoken guy, and is extremely grateful to be getting his chance. A Sonoma native, he grew up a Giants fan and loved Will Clark.

The A’s announced today that right-hander Sean Gallagher, as expected, was sent to San Diego as the third player to complete the Scott Hairston trade. Yes, it was just a year ago that Gallagher was obtained by Oakland as the centerpiece of the Rich Harden trade. Obviously he didn’t pan out like they hoped. Eric Patterson and minor league catcher Josh Donaldson are the only players remaining of the four the A’s received from the Cubs in that deal (outfielder Matt Murton was traded in the offseason for infielder Corey Wimberly).

My question for you readers: Do you still think the Harden deal can work out as a good one for the A’s??? Consider this as you ponder: A scout told me, at the time of the Dan Haren trade, that if two of the six players the A’s got from the Diamondbacks for Haren turned into impact players, the trade could be considered a success. The A’s got four players for Harden and Chad Gaudin, and unless Patterson blossoms at age 26, Donaldson is the last hope for that deal to produce an impact player. So how do you evaluate that trade a year later?

I was just watching Bobby Crosby take grounders at shortstop, and can’t help thinking if he’ll be playing his old position on a regular basis again. That might be the case if Orlando Cabrera gets traded before Friday’s deadline.

Scott Hairston’s left quad is still hurting, so he’s out of the lineup. Ryan Sweeney is in center, with Patterson playing left and Jack Cust in right. Bob Geren said he likes having Sweeney’s stronger arm in center because there’s so much room to cover out there at Fenway.

Enough of my rambling, here’s the rest of the lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Garciaparra DH
Cust RF
Suzuki C
Sweeney CF
Everidge 1B
Ellis 2B
Patterson LF

Mazzaro RHP

Sox
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Youkilis 1B
Ortiz DH
Bay LF
Drew RF
Lowell 3B
Kottaras C
Green SS

Buchholz RHP