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A’s-Angels pregame update — Saturday

We’ll keep it short and sweet. The A’s are sticking w/the same lineup as last night as they try to break through against John Lackey. The right-hander has allowed zero earned runs in three starts against the A’s this season. Dana Eveland pitches for the A’s, hoping for his second straight win.

Look for Matt Carson to get a start in the outfield tomorrow afternoon, with Ryan Sweeney getting the day off against Angels lefty Joe Saunders, manager Bob Geren said. Landon Powell will start behind the plate tomorrow. …

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

Eveland LHP

Angels
Figgins 3B
Abreu RF
Hunter CF
Guerrero DH
Rivera LF
Morales 1B
Kendrick 2B
Mathis C
Izturis SS

Lackey RHP

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Optimism about the A’s

Don’t go off the deep end just yet, but as the spring progresses, it appears more and more as if the A’s might not be the miserable wretches they were expected to be. Not only that, there are signs their division could be interesting. Among them:

1) The Angels starting pitching is in tatters. John Lackey will join Kelvim Escobar on the shelf, and that’s going to put more onus on the Angels’ offense, at least initially. Torii Hunter has had a huge spring, and Vladimir Guerrero is Vladimir Guerrero, so perhaps they will. But for now, the Angels don’t look like juggernauts, and that means …

2) The Seattle Mariners appear to be the AL West’s best team. Seattle has loads of pitching with Erik Bedard, Felix Hernandez and Carlos Silva. But veteran observers think they’ll struggle to score runs, and there is some question as to how some key bullpen members — J.J. Putz and Cal product Brandon Morrow chief among them _ will bounce back from some heavy work a year ago. Thus …

3) The  A’s may well stick around the race for a bit. Rich Harden must stay healthy, of course (and everybody knows what a huge question that is) and Justin Duchscherer must stay healthy and prove he can be a starter. Huge questions also linger about Bobby Crosby and Eric Chavez, too, and the A’s must sort out their outfield situation. 

Still, they’ve done quite a bit of winning in the Cactus League, and that’s usually indicative of quality play from young guys, and it’s become clear that tossing in the towel on Opening Day (as was the conventional wisdom) is not necessary.

On the bad news front for the A’s, the breaks have evened out regarding their trip to Japan.