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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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Weekend Wrap

A busy weekend down on the farm. Here’s a quick review while hoping (futily, probably) for the day that we similar promotions to the one taking place in Las Vegas today. A 10:30 a.m. start to accomodate local school children on field trips. Brilliant. Wouldn’t you just love to see major leaguers forced out of bed before 8 a.m. for a game just once in a season?

TRIPLE-A SACRAMENTO

The River Cats entered Monday’s morning meeting having lost the first three of four-game series at Las Vegas and had dropped six straight to teams in Nevada (Reno won three in a row earlier in the week). Among the lowlights:

James Simmons surrendered six runs in 3 2/3 innings in a loss Sunday. At this point, the A’s would be smart just to leave Simmons in the minors all season. Why use up a year of service time for a team that doesn’t appear headed anywhere. And given that Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill look like they’ve arrived prematurely, no need to rush Simmons. Besides, the righty has had his issues.

— Reliever Brad Kilby walked four straight hitters in the 10th inning Saturday, resulting in an 8-7 Sacramento loss. Not to sound like my late grandfather, but in my opinion that shouldn’t happen at any level of professional sports. Gio Gonzalez wasn’t much better in that one, either.

— Joel Galarraga had three RBI and helped stake Sacramento to a 9-0 lead on Friday, but the River Cats still couldn’t win. The starting pitcher who allowed a good portion of the lead to get away? Dana Eveland. Frankly, I would just as soon not see him in an A’s uniform again. Who’s with me?

Anyway, the common theme, here, obviously, is that help for the A’s sorry starting pitching isn’t 90 minutes up Interstate 80.

DOUBLE-A MIDLAND

— A very forgettable weekend as well. The Rockhounds lost three times to Corpus Christi by a combined score of 23-6.

— First baseman Chris Carter increased his RBI total to 28, tops on the team and second in the Texas League. First baseman Tommy Everidge collected RBI No. 26. Both have got to be en route to a promotion at some point this season.

SINGLE-A STOCKTON

— The Ports (9-22) extended their winning streak to a season-high three before losing the finale of a three-game series to Rancho Cucamonga. Cal product Tyson Ross, the A’s second pick last season, allowed two runs and three hits in only two innings and walked the first three he faced. He has not an auspicious beginning to his professional career.

— Outfielder Matthew Spencer is bucking for a promotion. Spencer homered in victories Friday and Saturday and has gone deep 10 times. The rest of his numbers are pretty good, too.

Yusef Carter is hitting .333 in his first exposure to High-A and had the game-winning single Saturday.

LOW-A KANE COUNTY

— First baseman Steve Kleen is hitting .303 and his 33 hits trail only Dusty Coleman’s 34 on the Cougars. Both Kleen and Coleman are in the top 10.

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A’s minor league recap: Hot-hitting Cardenas promoted to Sacramento

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

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

The big news Friday was the arrival of infielder Adrian Cardenas from Double-A Midland, who earned a promotion after tearing up Texas League with a .372 average and a league-leading 13 extra-base hits in 19 games. The hot-hitting Cardenas, Oakland’s No. 5 prospect according to Baseball America, will likely split time between second base and shortstop with Cliff Pennington.
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A’s minor league recap: RiverCats promote Chen, Galarraga

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

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

Injuries to the A’s Mark Ellis and Nomar Garciaparra led to promotions to Oakland for River Cats infielder Eric Patterson and reliever Kevin Cameron. Sacramento restocked its roster by adding 25-year-old second baseman Yung-Chi Chen, the ex-Mariners prospect who was at Double-A Midland, and 27-year-old catcher Joel Galarraga, signed from the Mexican League in January, who was at extended spring training.

Sacramento was off Wednesday, but Galarraga started Thursday night and caught Vin Mazzarro, who came into the game with a 0-0 record and a 1.35 ERA. Sacramento made room behind the plate for Galarraga by sending slumping Anthony Recker (.156 batting average in 14 games) to Midland.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

Adrian Cardenas continued his torrid hitting by collecting three hits and five RBI in the RockHounds’ 16-9 win over Corpus Christi (Astros) on Wednesday. Cardenas, who moved back to playing second base to make room for Josh Horton at shortstop, is hitting .355.

Chris Carter is in a bit of a Holliday-esque home run slump, but the first baseman collected two more RBI and his 21 runs driven in are second in the Texas League. Horton, limited to DH duties because of a sore throwing shoulder, had three hits and is batting .339.

Meanwhile, a lot of attention at the game was paid to Corpus Christi catcher Koby Clemens’ dad, Roger, who was in attendance. In fact, Clemens threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Thursday night.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Three of the A’s four affiliates are in first place. Then there’s the Ports. Stockton fell to 4-16 after Wednesday’s 11-8 loss to Visalia (Diamondbacks).

More bad news came in the form of an injury to ex-Cal and Bishop O’Dowd High pitcher Tyson Ross, who was placed on the seven-day disabled list with biceps tendinitis. Ross had a 4.40 ERA in three starts.

The Ports’ struggling offense got a boost from the promotion of David Thomas (14th round, ’08 draft) from Kane County. Thomas was hitting .360 and was tied for the Midwest League lead in homers with four.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Kane County filled the hole left by David Thomas by adding 20-year-old outfielder Jeremy Barfield (8th round, ’08) from extended spring training. Barfield’s father, Jesse, was a former major league outfielder and his brother, Josh, is currently in the Indians’ minor league system after spending most of the last three years in the majors.

Jeremy Barfield is beginning his first full season in pro ball after batting .271 with three homers and 41 RBI last summer at Short-A Vancouver.

The Cougars fell 2-1 to Lansing (Blue Jays) on Wednesday but remain in first place.

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Ziegler to pitch in WBC

Reliever Brad Ziegler received word that he’s made the final roster for the Team USA squad that will play in next month’s World Baseball Classic. He’s likely to be one of two Athletics in the WBC, as outfielder Chris Denorfia is expected to make Italy’s roster. Every country’s final roster is expected to be announced by Tuesday.

It’s a huge deal for Ziegler. His family has a military history that goes back generations, and he oozes patriotism.

“I’ve wanted this opportunity for a long time. I was trying to campaign to get on the Olympic team, and they told me I would have got it if I didn’t get called up (to Oakland last season),” Ziegler said. “Considering the magnitude of this tournament, to be mentioned in the same breath (as the other players involved) is truly an honor.”

Team USA reports to Clearwater, Fla., on March 1, and Ziegler will be away from the A’s as long as the Americans remain in the tournament. Their first game is March 5 in Toronto, and it’s possible Ziegler and Denorfia could face each other, as the U.S. is in the same pool with Italy, Canada and Venezuela.

A’s manager Bob Geren isn’t worried about Ziegler’s preparation for the regular season being affected by pitching in the WBC. “I think with the intensity of games like that being higher than spring training or a Cactus League game, it will be good for him. He’s really a one-inning kind of guy. He’ll be fine. When the spring is over, he’ll have the right amount of innings when we go to Anaheim (April 6 for the season opener).”

Other tidbits from Geren’s morning media chat:

–He’s gone over possible batting orders in his head, and is still tinkering with the idea of hitting Jack Cust second because of his high on-base percentage. “I’ve thought about it. I haven’t (decided) one way or another on it.”

–Right-hander Edgar Gonzalez and catcher Joel Galarraga are still being delayed by visa problems in Mexico. Both are non-roster players, but Gonzalez is considered a fifth-starter candidate. Because he pitched in winter ball, Geren doesn’t think Gonzalez will be behind. He didn’t say the same for Galarraga. “I think it hurts him. A catcher needs to get through drills and work with pitchers.”

Still no Jason Giambi sighting today, the reporting deadline for position players. When he does arrive, he’ll likely address the media at some point today. Infielder Gregorio Petit and outfielder Javier Herrera, both from Venezuela, are the only position players along with Giambi yet to show.