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Buck returns to Oakland; Outman having surgery tomorrow

The A’s just announced that outfielder Travis Buck has been recalled from Triple-A Sacramento and third baseman Jack Hannahan will be optioned out.  We’ve been told Buck won’t arrive at the Coliseum until after the game starts. With Adam Kennedy now getting time at third and Bobby Crosby still available to play the corner spots, Hannahan’s chances were going to be limited . Buck was hitting .350 for Sacramento as of today, and he gives the A’s a better defensive option in right than Jack Cust, who can also DH (Cust is still in tonight’s lineup in right, as of my writing this). Or perhaps the A’s will give Cust a day off here or there. The guy has played a ton of innings, and it looks like he could benefit from a break. He’s hitting seventh today for the second time in three games.

More news of the day: Left-hander Josh Outman is having surgery on his elbow tomorrow, to be performed by Dr. James Andrews. But still no official word on whether it will be Tommy John (ligament replacement) surgery or something else. Details of the surgery, and Outman’s timetable for recovery, should come after the procedure. But all signs are that Outman won’t be back until sometime during the 2010 season. “He had a great season for us. He’s a fine young pitcher,” Geren said. “Obviously it’s a setback. Obviously a second (opinion) was deemed necessary to (decide on having) surgery.” As for Outman’s replacement in the rotation, Geren still isn’t committing to Gio Gonzalez beyond tomorrow’s start.

Geren continues to shuffle around his batting order looking for a combination that produces some results. Orlando Cabrera is back up in the second spot in the order after Kennedy. Switch-hitting Landon Powell gets a start at DH in order to get as many left-handed bats in against right-hander Rick Porcello as possible. …

The lineups

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Suzuki C
Sweeney CF
Cust RF
Powell DH
Ellis 2B

Anderson LHP

Tigers
Granderson CF
Polanco 2B
Cabrera 1B
Thames DH
Raburn LF
Inge 3B
Ordonez RF
Laird C
Everett SS

Porcello RHP

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Garciaparra starts at DH; Cust hitting seventh

Considering the rut the A’s find themselves in, it’s not surprising Bob Geren held a team meeting on the field before batting practice this afternoon. One message was the need to play better defense after the A’s committed five errors over the past two games. “I just wanted to make sure we separate offense and defense,” Geren said. “If you’re struggling offensively, separate the two sides.” But Geren also wants his players to just relax and have a little more fun. Perhaps that’s why we saw Jason Giambi taking some ground balls at third base (using his first baseman’s mitt, of course!)

Today’s lineup also has a different look to it. Nomar Garciaparra draws his first start since coming off the DL. He’s the DH and batting cleanup, with Jack Cust dropping down to seventh in the order. The A’s have been very cautious in easing Garciaparra back into action. I assume tonight could be a test run. If Garciaparra doesn’t respond well to a full night of activity, he could head back to the DL to open a roster spot for Mark Ellis, who will be activated tomorrow. Geren said he didn’t know when Garciaparra might be ready to play defense, but he wants his bat in the lineup, particularly against lefties. We still don’t know how Garciaparra’s calf will respond when he really has to exert himself on the bases, but Geren added: “He’s moving well. He looks great taking ground balls. It’s just a matter of volume, how much he does. If he’s on base four times tonight, he might not be able to go tomorrow.”

As for dropping Cust in the order? “The last few games he’s not seeing the ball as well as he normally does,” Geren said.

–Adam Kennedy was breaking in his new first baseman’s mitt before the game, in anticipating of seeing time at first when Ellis comes off the DL. Kennedy reiterated he’s ready to play wherever needed. As for Ellis, he said his minor league rehab stint has him ready to roll, and he’s excited to return to second base tomorrow.

And finally, your lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 2B
Suzuki C
Holliday LF
Garciaparra DH
Giambi 1B
Cabrera SS
Cust RF
Crosby 3B
Davis CF

Cahill P

Rockies
Smith LF
Barmes 2B
Helton 1B
Hawpe RF
Tulowitzki SS
Stewart 3B
Atkins DH
Gonzalez CF
Phillips C

De La Rosa P

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Sunday update from Petco

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there … We’ll see if a big holiday crowd shows up today at Petco Park. The sun is out — first day of true San Diego weather since we’ve been here.

A few updates:

–Josh Outman will get an MRI tomorrow, though Bob Geren wasn’t positive what type of MRI it would be. If it’s a contrast MRI (where an injection is involved), Outman wouldn’t be able to throw for a couple of days, ruling him out for his next start Wednesday against the Giants. I didn’t see Outman before the game to clarify …

–Something that stood out to me last night was Ryan Sweeney’s game-tying single off lefty Joe Thatcher in the sixth. Sweeney was hitting just .169 against lefties on the season, and Thatcher was brought in to face him. The count was 0-2 and Sweeney just served a little single into left field.

Sweeney really needs to show he can hit lefties a little better than he has. I think he gives the A’s a better glove in center than Rajai Davis and makes the A’s a stronger overall team when he’s in there. That also gives the A’s a valuable weapon in Davis off the bench for pinch-running purposes. Geren has started the right-handed Davis against lefty starters since Sweeney came off the DL. It will be interesting to see if Sweeney gets the call tomorrow night against Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez. Geren moved him up into the fifth spot in the order today against San Diego right-hander Kevin Correia.

I’d like to hear thoughts on how some of you evaluate the center field situation …

–You may have noticed that Jack Cust’s past couple of homers have gone to the opposite field, always a good sign for Cust. He’s only hitting .233, but his 13 homers lead the team and his 37 RBI trail Matt Holliday by two for the team lead. Geren talked this morning about how Cust isn’t the prototypical No. 2 hitter. “It’s a little different from the norm that a ’2′ guy should (mainly) move guys over,” Geren said. “My philosophy is I just like to get the most productive hitters the most at-bats.”

Today’s lineups:

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

Padres
Gwynn Jr. CF
Eckstein 2B
A. Gonzalez 1B
Kouzmanoff 3B
Blanks LF
E. Gonzalez RF
Blanco C
Correia P
E. Cabrera SS

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Rajai gets nod tonight in center

The Internet access is a little spotty in the press box right now, so I’m pounding out my first blog via blackberry. And for some apparent reason, I thought you would find that interesting. …

Anyway, Ryan Sweeney is active but not in tonight’s lineup with lefty Randy Wolf throwing for LA. The Padres have lefty Wade LeBlanc going tomorrow, and Geren said he hadn’t decided yet if Sweeney would start tomorrow or Rajai Da
vis.

Geren said Nomar Garciaparra is probably still a week or two away from being able to start in the field. Once the A’s return to playing in American League parks, Geren could DH Garciaparra and keep playing Jack Cust in right field. He said he didn’t know how he would handle the DH spot yet.

Ill leave you with the lineups now, as my fingers are getting exhausted from blackberry blogging.

A’s
Kennedy 2B
Suzuki C
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Cabrera SS
Crosby 3B
Davis CF
Mazzaro P

Dodgers
Pierre LF
Furcal SS
Hudson 2B
Blake 3B
Ethier RF
Kemp CF
Loney 1B
Martin C
Wolf P

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A’s pregame update — Wednesday

Slow news day on the A’s pregame front … Bob Geren said there’s a good chance Ryan Sweeney might be activated tomorrow. That’s assuming Sweeney’s left knee feels good after another workout in center field today. He looked OK retreating back to catch a couple deep flies during batting practice, for what it’s worth.

Geren was asked a couple of follow-up questions on his 10th inning argument last night that resulted in a double-play call being overturned in the A’s favor. Replays showed Jason Giambi came off first and made the tag on James Loney, but first base umpire Adrian Johnson called him safe. Geren asked the umpires to discuss it, and after a conference, home plate umpire Ted Barrett ruled Loney was out. I asked Geren if he was surprised to get a call overturned in his favor, just because it seems 99.9% of those arguments end with the manager walking back to the dugout and things remaining status quo.

“I don’t know if I was surprised,” he said. “I was happy that they all got together and asked if somebody had a better angle.”

On to tonight’s lineups, featuring Jack Cust batting second with right-hander Hiroki Kuroda on the hill for L.A. …

A’s
Kennedy 2B
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Suzuki C
Cabrera SS
Hannahan 3B
Davis CF
Cahill P

Dodgers
Pierre LF
Furcal SS
Hudson 2B
Loney 1B
Blake 3B
Ethier RF
Kemp CF
Martin C
Kuroda P

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Suzuki back hitting second

I’ve been to Dodger Stadium one time previously, during a family trip to Disneyland many years ago. But I forgot a lot of the characteristics. The media entrance takes you on to the 5th deck behind home plate. I thought my ears were gonna pop. … The A’s haven’t been here in quite some time either — the 2000 season to be exact.The forecast called for possible rain, but it’s warm. Perfect night for ball …

–More shuffling in the A’s batting order … Adam Kennedy is hitting leadoff like Sunday, but Kurt Suzuki has been moved back up to the No. 2 spot and Jack Cust is back hitting third. Orlando Cabrera is sixth. Bob Geren said he didn’t put Cust back in the ’2′ hole because he didn’t want left-handed hitters batting back-to-back atop the order against Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw. Against righties, Geren said he might try Kennedy-Cust in the first two spots again. “I’m going to keep Cabrera down in the lineup,” Geren said, noting Suzuki’s .323 on-base percentage compared to Cabrera’s .280.

–Geren said he’s inclined to install Ryan Sweeney back as his regular center fielder once he’s activated from the DL. He’s eligible Thursday. It was worth asking the question since Rajai Davis has made some impact while filling in for him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the right-handed hitting Davis continue to play some against lefties, since Sweeney has been much more effective against right-handed pitchers.

Sweeney said he was feeling good before batting practice, and he was scheduled for full pre-game baseball activity, including tracking down balls hit to his left and right. He thinks that’s the big test for his left knee. He’s optimistic about possibly being ready Thursday.

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 2B
Suzuki C
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Cabrera SS
Hannahan 3B
Davis CF
Braden P

Dodgers
Pierre LF
Furcal SS
Hudson 2B
Blake 3B
Loney 1B
Kemp CF
Ethier RF
Martin C
Kershaw P

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Cust returns to right field

The A’s lineup has a few wrinkles in it today as they shoot for their first six-game winning streak since August 2006.

Jason Giambi is at DH, not surprising since he often DH’s in a day game after a night game. His right lower calf also is bothering him, so the rest can do him well from that standpoint. Jack Cust returns to right field for the first time since the back spasms kicked in last week in Texas. He told me his back tightens up after a couple of at-bats, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting him greatly. With lefty Rich Hill on the mound for Baltimore, right-handed hitting Gregorio Petit gets a start at third base, just his third in nine games since being recalled from the minors.

The lineups:
A’s — Cabrera SS; Kennedy 2B; Cust RF; Holliday LF; Giambi DH; Suzuki C; Crosby 1B; Davis CF; Petit 3B; Mazzaro P.
O’s — Jones CF; Reimold LF; Markakis RF;Scott DH; Mora 3B; Salazar 1B; Wieters C; Wigginton 2B; Andino SS; Hill P.

I didn’t dive real deep into Trevor Cahill’s outing last night, or Bob Geren’s rationale for pulling him after 91 pitches. I was pretty surprised that he wasn’t allowed to go longer. To shed some light on things, Geren said he went to the bullpen because Cahill gave up two hits to start the seventh, and that he wanted Brad Ziegler’s ability to get a ground ball. I was still scratching my head, and not just in hindsight because Ziegler got roughed up. These young pitchers need to be given the opportunity to work their way out of jams late in games, especially when they’re working w/a big lead. I think there’s a lot more confidence to be gained when leaving a game after completing an inning, as opposed to being pulled in the middle of one. There are times when your starter needs the hook, and leaving him in one batter too long can be disastrous. Last night wasn’t one of those times.

That’s all for now …

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Cust, Sweeney sit; Petit playing third

Not a lot to report on the pregame scene. It’s blue skies and sunshine at U.S. Cellular field, as the A’s try to make it three straight over the White Sox. As bad as the road trip started out in Texas, finishing out 3-1 in Chicago would be a nice rebound for the A’s as they head home for a seven-game homestand against Baltimore and Minnesota (and considering they follow up with three games at San Francisco, it’s virtually a 10-game homestand).

No Ryan Sweeney in the lineup, as we suspected. Bob Geren said the soreness in his knee has subsided, but he’ll probably get an MRI tomorrow. Jack Cust also gets a day off, with Jason Giambi at DH and Gregorio Petit playing third. I’m surprised it’s taken this long to get Petit back in the lineup …

Chicago’s lineup features blue-chip prospect Gordham Beckham at third. He took the express route to the majors after just 59 games in the minors …

A’s:
Cabrera SS
Kennedy 2B
Holliday LF
Giambi DH
Suzuki C
Crosby 1B
Cunningham RF
Davis CF
Petit 3B

Anderson P

White Sox:
Podsednik LF
Ramirez SS
Dye RF
Konerko 1B
Pierzynski C
Fields DH
Wise CF
Beckham 3B
Nix 2B

Buehrle P

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Avoiding the slippery slope

It goes without saying the A’s badly need a victory after losing four straight. But regardless of today’s result, this series obviously has dealt a serious blow to their long-term prospects for the rest of 2009. They’re 11 games under .500, and 11 games back in the AL West. The way I see it, this team can go one of two ways at this point. They can stick together and start playing better from a pure pride standpoint, or they can start drifting off mentally, and then things tailspin in a hurry. I think it’s a big test for Bob Geren to see whether he can keep this team from checking out psychologically. There’s a lot of baseball left to play …

–As for today’s news, Jack Cust is in the lineup at DH and Jack Hannahan is slated to play third base. It’s best to write this in pencil, as we’ve learned the past couple of days. Both players are battling lower back spasms, but apparently they’re good enough to give it a go today.

A’s full lineup:
Cabrera SS
Kennedy 2B
Cust DH
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Suzuki C
Sweeney CF
Cunningham RF
Hannahan 3B

Braden P

Rangers:
Kinsler 2B
Young 3B
Jones DH
Cruz RF
Blalock 1B
Byrd CF
Murphy LF
Saltalamacchia C
Andrus SS

Millwood P

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Buck placed on DL

It figured that roster moves were coming down today. The A’s placed Travis Buck on the 15-day DL with a strained left oblique muscle and optioned reliever Jeff Gray to the minors. Infielder Gregorio Petit and outfielder Aaron Cunningham were recalled from Triple-A Sacramento.

Jack Cust? It looks like he’ll avoid the DL, although he’s not in the lineup today. He says his back spasms have calmed down, but that one more day of rest might have him 100 percent by tomorrow. “I probably shouldn’t have played yesterday,” said Cust, who only lasted one at-bat before having to be replaced.

How bad is this injury situation? There wasn’t even a lineup posted in the A’s clubhouse by the time players hit the field to stretch. And during his media chat, Bob Geren had difficulty remembering the lineup he finally settled on, because he scribbled out so many drafts based on who might/might not be available.

I didn’t catch Buck before BP to discuss his injury. He had said he thought he’d be available today. … Cunningham and Petit each return for their second stint w/the big club, and Cunningham is starting in right field tonight. Petit played some third base in his latest stint w/Sacramento, and I’d expect he’d get some time there w/the A’s. He provided a nice spark earlier this season (he had that game-winning RBI in Seattle, when Bobby Crosby plowed over the catcher). I could see him playing third against left-handed pitchers, particularly when Crosby plays first and Jason Giambi is DH …

The A’s are back to 12 pitchers (seven relievers) and 13 position players. That gives Geren four position players off the bench, although Cust probably isn’t much of an option tonight …

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s — Cabrera SS; Kennedy 2B; Holliday LF; Giambi DH; Suzuki C; Sweeney CF; Cunningham RF; Hannahan 3B; Crosby 1B; Anderson P.

Rangers – Kinsler 2B; Young 3B; Hamilton DH; Jones LF; Cruz RF; Blalock 1B; Byrd CF; Saltalamacchia C; Andrus SS; McCarthy P.