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Tuesday update from the Coliseum

We’ve had a string of nice nights for baseball at the Coliseum. Looks like this will be another one, although the wind is whipping right now during BP. …

Let’s get the news out of the way: Josh Outman did in fact have Tommy John surgery today on his left elbow. Aside from having the ulnar collateral ligament reconstructed, he also had a bone spur removed. No official timetable for his recovery, but it’s generally anywhere from 12-18 months. That makes three A’s pitchers this season lost to Tommy John surgery. Yikes … Joey Devine and Dan Giese are the others.

In cheerier news on the pitching front, Justin Duchscherer’s back problems have improved and he’s been cleared to resume throwing in Phoenix. He’ll be following the typical routine, playing long toss from progressively longer distances. If all goes as planned, the A’s have it mapped out for him to throw in a minor league game July 26. As you know, all plans are written in pencil … Starting or relieving, you ask? The A’s don’t have a set plan for Duchscherer at this point. “There are no plans in any way other than to get him healthy and on the mound,” Bob Geren said.

–Geren touched a little bit on the A’s running game today. Matt Holliday stole a base last night, and the A’s were planning a double steal w/runners on the corners but it backfired when Kurt Suzuki got picked off third. Geren said he wants to look for opportunities to steal when the right guy is on base and the situation seems favorable.

I’m all for this. One of the few bright spots of last year’s offense was the A’s efforts to steal more. The aggression seemed to be dialed back in the early going this season, and with the A’s adding Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi to the middle of the order, I could see why they didn’t want to run themselves out of innings. But the power hasn’t come, and with the offense struggling to score, they’ve really got nothing to lose. They have some players who can swipe a bag, and it’s time to turn them loose.

Anyone w/me on this?

Tonight’s lineups, featuring Nomar Garciaparra DH’ing for the A’s, but no Travis Buck:

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

Gonzalez LHP

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

Galarraga RHP

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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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Barton optioned; Outman switched to 60-day DL

It wasn’t a shock that first baseman Daric Barton was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento to make room on the A’s 25-man roster for Mark Ellis. The bigger news this morning was that the team transferred left-hander Josh Outman to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot for Ellis on the 40-man roster. That means Outman, nursing what’s been described as a sprained elbow, won’t return to the mound for the A’s until late August, at the earliest. The A’s announced the news in a release, after manager Bob Geren talked to the media. So we didn’t get a chance to ask him about it this morning.

Outman told me yesterday he’ll be examined by Dr. James Andrews on Monday morning in Alabama, but the A’s obviously feel already that it’s a severe enough injury that he needs to be shelved for a while. This presents a big opportunity for Gio Gonzalez, who could stick in the rotation for a while if he bounces back with a good start Tuesday vs. Detroit. And it’s a pretty tough break for Outman, who has pitched very well in his first season as a big league starter.

Today’s lineups, featuring Adam Kennedy at third base for Oakland:

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

Mazzaro P

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

Cook P

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Outman to DL for A’s

Not a huge shock today when the A’s announced that Josh Outman was placed on the DL to make room for Gio Gonzalez, who takes the hill tonight against the Giants. Outman and the team still haven’t gotten results from the contrast MRI he had today on his elbow. It’s a tough break for Outman, who has been a pleasant surprise after claiming the fifth starter’s spot at the end of spring training. His take on hitting the DL: “I expected to be put on the DL. They needed to get a starting pitcher in there. I’m not upset. I’m obviously hurt to some degree. Hopefully I hear the lesser of several evils.”

Things to watch tonight w/Gonzalez: His fastball control and overall presence on the mound. A huge crowd is expected tonight. It should be a charged atmosphere and a good test for Gonzalez. Geren said the lefty’s had so much movement on his fastball in the minors that it can be tough to control. That’s similar to what Trevor Cahill and Vin Mazzaro deal with from start to start. …

Tonight’s lineups:

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

Gonzalez

Giants
Rowand CF
Torres LF
Sandoval DH
Molina C
Renteria SS
Aurilia 1B
Uribe 3B
Schierholtz RF
Downs 2B

Johnson P

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Memory lane

The Raider locker room was host to a pregame reception for all of the players on hand to celebrate the A’s 20th Anniversary of their 1989 World Series championship. … The big bonus for the team was that Rickey Henderson did, in fact, show up. The A’s had quietly said he would, but didn’t spend much time promoting it just in case he didn’t make it. He had a big crowd of reporters around him (no surprise) and had lots of entertaining thoughts to share as always. You’ll be reading about them in tomorrow’s CC Times. Dave Stewart, Dave Henderson, Walt Weiss, Mike Moore, Tony Phillips, Lance Blankenship, Matt Young and Ken Phelps were also on hand, as was then-GM Sandy Alderson. Carney Lansford, now the hitting coach for the Giants, dropped in real quick, as did A’s pitching coach Curt Young.

As for the current A’s news …

Josh Outman wasn’t able to get his second MRI on his elbow due to a power outage at the facility in Pleasanton where it was to take place. He’s definitely out for Wednesday’s start, but said he won’t know if he’ll be out longer until he has the MRI tomorrow. Bob Geren said he’d announce after tonight’s game who would take ball tomorrow. It’s between Edgar Gonzalez and Gio Gonzalez. “Obviously it’d be either Edgar or somebody from Triple-A, (and) Gio is scheduled to throw tomorrow,” Geren said.

The A’s were short on details on Eric Chavez’s back surgery today. According to Geren, the surgery went well, and that preliminary indications are that Chavez should be ready for the start of spring training. “He texted (head trainer Steve Sayles) and said he’s doing well,” Geren said. Take all of this w/a grain of salt. We still don’t know many details of the surgery, so it’s tough to put much stock in any timeframe right now.

Mark Ellis can come off the DL on Sunday, and he’s expected to return to second base. In light of that, Geren said Adam Kennedy will bounce around between third base, second base, first base, DH and the outfield. But he’ll be playing regularly somewhere …

Tonight’s lineups:

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

Mazzaro P

Giants
Rowand CF
Torres LF
Sandoval 3B
Molina C
Ishikawa 1B
Winn DH
Renteria SS
Schierholtz RF
Downs 2B

Lincecum 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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High praise for Adrian Gonzalez

With last night’s game going so long, I was on a pretty tight deadline and didn’t get a chance to address the A’s handling of Adrian Gonzalez all that much. Bob Geren talked about Gonzalez in his pregame media chat today. The A’s walked him four times — twice intentionally. One time came w/runners on the corners and one out in the sixth, with the game tied. That loaded the bases for Kevin Kouzmanoff, who singled in two runs. Geren said he had no regrets walking Gonzalez in that situation. The first baseman is tied for the major league lead with 23 homers and leads the majors with 57 walks. I didn’t have any problem with the call, either. One San Diego writer pointed out last night that Padres hitters, in general, have been pretty bad this season in the at-bat after Gonzalez draws a walk.

“On this team, it’s compared to the way Barry (Bonds) was treated in San Francisco,” Geren said, showing plenty of respect for Gonzalez. “There’s a lot of situations where you have to pitch to him. Other times you have to be careful.”

As for A’s news, Josh Outman said he was pleasantly surprised with how his left elbow felt this morning after he departed last night’s game in the second inning. He’s getting checked by a local orthopedist at the stadium tonight. Still no word on whether he’ll make his next start Wednesday against the Giants. …

With Edgar Gonzalez unavailable after last night’s extended outing, Geren said Santiago Casilla would be his long man tonight if needed. He’s hoping he won’t have to call on one. The A’s would love to get a lengthy outing from starter Brett Anderson, who hasn’t been sharp in each of his past two starts.

Tonight’s lineups, featuring the return of Ryan Sweeney in center field for Oakland. San Diego’s pitcher bats eighth once again:

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

Padres
Gwynn CF
Eckstein 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Headley 3B
Blanks LF
Alfonzo C
Venable RF
Silva P
E. Cabrera SS

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Nomar at DH tonight

Nomar Garciaparra makes his return to the A’s lineup tonight at DH. If the A’s could get four games a week out of him, I think they’d take that. Bob Geren said he’d be careful in how he uses Garciaparra because of his calf issues. Jarrod Washburn pitches for Seattle tonight, and the Mariners have another lefty going tomorrow afternoon in Erik Bedard. Geren said he’d be happy if the right-handed hitting Garciaparra could start strictly against lefties for the time being.

A bit of encouraging news on Justin Duchscherer: He reported his back feels much better, and he’ll resume his throwing program from where he left off a couple days ago. The next step for him will be throwing off a mound as he comes back from elbow surgery.

Interleague play is truly upon us: A’s pitchers were on the field taking early BP today. A little bunting, a few swings, even a baserunning refresher course. Geren said Josh Outman looked the best in today’s group. Fitting, as Outman was hitting regularly for the Phillies’ Double-A team when he got traded to the A’s last July. Outman said the Phillies stressed the importance of pitchers handling the bat well, and that philosophy trickled down to the minors. “At home, we bunted every day,” Outman said.

So much for my prediction that Adam Kennedy would bat second tonight. He’s back in the seventh spot after yesterday’s 4-for-4 day. Geren said he’ll consider batting the left-handed hitter No. 2 against right-handers. I still would have swapped him w/Suzuki.

Here’s the A’s full lineup:
Cabrera SS; Suzuki C; Cust RF; Holliday LF; Giambi 1B; Garciaparra DH; Kennedy 2B; Crosby 3B; Davis CF; Braden P.

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

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Crosby back in the lineup; Cust hitting third

It rained pretty heavily early this afternoon, but it’s all sunshine at Comerica Park as the A’s get ready for  game two of this three-game series against Detroit. Bobby Crosby was feeling good enough to return to the lineup at third base after a stomach ailment prompted his early exit last night. Crosby is guessing it might have been food poisoning. “About an hour before the game, I was just feeling off,” he said before BP. “By about the second inning, I felt like I had to throw up.”

Whether that played a part in him booting that grounder last night, I’m not sure. But Crosby echoed what Adam Kennedy said after Friday’s game regarding the infield’s four errors: Sometimes bad defense can be contagious.

On the offensive side of things, Bob Geren has flip-flopped Jack Cust and Jason Giambi in the lineup, bumping Cust up to the No. 3 spot and dropping Giambi to fifth. It’s a decision spurred more by Cust’s hot hitting than any struggles Giambi might be having, Geren said. I asked him if he thinks Giambi will benefit from hitting fifth (seeing better pitches, etc.) “I don’t think that makes much of a difference as much as getting one of our top hitters an extra at-bat a game,” Geren said. Cust is hitting .281 right now, Giambi .208.

Geren also bumped Adam Kennedy to sixth and dropped Ryan Sweeney to seventh.

–Sean Gallagher will take Monday’s start in Tampa Bay, with Josh Outman going Tuesday. That’s also puts the duo on turn to pitch the May 29th doubleheader at Texas (when the teams make up their rainout from April 29).   

A’s lineup: Cabrera SS; Suzuki C; Cust DH; Holliday LF; Giambi 1B; Kennedy 2B; Sweeney CF; Crosby 3B; Buck RF; Braden P.

Tigers lineup: Granderson CF; Polanco 2B; Thomas RF; Cabrera 1B; Ordonez DH; Inge 3B; Raburn LF; Laird C; Everett SS; Porcello P.

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Cahill’s start pushed back to Saturday

The dark clouds come and go over Rangers Ballpark. Right now the sun is out as the A’s take BP before tonight’s series opener w/Texas. Weather.com says there’s a 40 percent chance of rain tonight and tomorrow. The wind is blowing pretty good too, so we’ll see how that affects fly balls tonight.

On to today’s news …

Trevor Cahill was supposed to start tomorrow’s game, but he’s been pushed back to Saturday. Josh Outman will take the ball tomorrow, so they’ve basically flip-flopped rotation turns. This gives Cahill two bullpen sessions in between starts instead of one to work out the kinks from Friday’s outing, when Tampa Bay knocked him around pretty good. “I’m just trying to find a consistent arm slot,” Cahill said before heading out to stretch.

That was more insight than we got from Bob Geren when discussing Cahill. Geren said during his media chat that the switch was made partly because the A’s didn’t like Outman going so long between starts. But I’m thinking this has EVERYTHING to do w/Cahill’s last outing. You’ve gotta believe the A’s will have a quick hook w/Cahill in the rotation if he keeps struggling, especially if Sean Gallagher and/or Gio Gonzalez continue throwing well at Triple-A (Gio starts tonight, by the way). I could see one of them up soon.

Eric Chavez just finished taking grounders and making throws around the infield. How he comes out of that will determine when he might return to the lineup. Could be tomorrow. Could be … ?????? If Chavez winds up on the DL, I’d expect the A’s to call up a reliever. They’re going with a 6-man bullpen right now, one short of what Geren usually likes carrying …

Today’s A’s lineup:

Sweeney CF; Cabrera SS; Giambi 1B; Holliday LF; Cust DH; Garciaparra 3B; Suzuki C; Buck RF; Ellis 2B; Anderson P.

For the Rangers: Kinsler 2B; Byrd CF; Young 3B; Jones LF; Blalock DH; Cruz RF; Davis 1B; Saltalamacchia C; Andrus SS; Millwood P.