Ellis back at second base for A’s; Buck gets start

We’ll keep this one brief. Mark Ellis returns to the A’s lineup at second base, with Adam Kennedy moving back to third base. Travis Buck gets a start in right field w/right-hander Carl Pavano on the mound for Cleveland. No Nomar Garciaparra tonight. The A’s are still being cautious w/him in the field, and Bob Geren said Garciaparra wouldn’t play in the field tomorrow either. I’m thinking he’ll DH tomorrow as the A’s face a tough lefty in Cliff Lee.

The lineups
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Sweeney CF
Buck RF
Ellis 2B

Mazzaro RHP

A. Cabrera SS
Sizemore CF
Martinez C
Choo RF
Hafner DH
Peralta 3B
Garko 1B
Valbuena 2B
Francisco LF

Pavano RHP


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:

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

Cahill P

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

De La Rosa P


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:

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

Mazzaro P

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

Lincecum P


Quick update

Being that we’re in the third inning at U.S. Cellular Field, I’d say this post is coming to you a little late. So just a couple quick tidbits:

–Ryan Sweeney’s left knee is sore after his collision w/the center field while making a catch last night. Rajai Davis got the start in center tonight, but manager Bob Geren said Sweeney probably would have sat anyway against White Sox lefty Clayton Richard.

One of the funnier things I’ve seen this season: Before batting practice, somebody went out to the center field wall and used white tape to trace an outline of a player wearing #15 — poking fun at the fact that Sweeney practically embedded himself into the padding. Sweeney played for Chicago before coming to the A’s, and word was that somebody from the Sox clubhouse was responsible. A probable suspect would be outfielder Brian Anderson, a good buddy of Sweeney’s.

–Second baseman Mark Ellis said his left calf is feeling great, and he’s likely to begin a rehab assignment with Single-A Stockton on June 16. After a couple games there, he would finish out with Triple-A Sacramento until he’s eligible to come off the 60-day DL on June 28. No way that Adam Kennedy comes out of the lineup the way he’s been playing, so the A’s may have to get creative if they want Ellis playing too. Geren mentioned that Kennedy has been taking grounders all over the infield. “Adam is up for playing anywhere,” Geren said.

A’s and Sox tied 2-2 in the third …


Ellis won’t be returning soon; Casilla to DL

Not the cheeriest of blog titles if you’re an A’s fan, I know. I’m trying my best to provide some actual baseball news for you. But injuries are such a central theme in everything A’s-related right now, that’s the newsiest information circulating.

Second baseman Mark Ellis had an MRI on his strained left calf and he’s expected to miss anywhere from 4-6 weeks. Calves can be very slow to heal, so it doesn’t come as a big surprise. And w/Nomar Garciaparra on the DL with his chronic calf condition, it looks like he’s weeks away from rejoining the lineup as well. On the bright side, an MRI on third baseman Eric Chavez showed no structural damage in his right elbow. No forecast yet on whether he might be ready to play May 10, when he’s eligible to return from the DL.

The A’s made room for reliever Santiago Casilla on the 15-day DL with a sprained right knee. Lefty Gio Gonzalez was called up to take his spot in the bullpen. Casilla originally hurt his calf during Tuesday’s game at Texas, but he said yesterday that he was now feeling the pain near his knee. To be precise, it’s a sprained lateral collateral ligament, which is interesting to say out loud if you give it a try. Geren thinks there’s a good chance Casilla could come off the DL when he’s eligible May 14.

Gonzalez was 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA in four starts at Triple-A, but he’s needed in relief up here. He’s also the only left-handed reliever. Remember, he pitched well out of the ‘pen late in 2008 after struggling in the rotation. This doesn’t necessarily mean the A’s envision him as a reliever long-term, however.

Brad Ziegler is still battling the flu, so he’ll be unavailable for a third straight game. That leaves the ninth inning a bit of a question mark tonight. At the time of his media chat, Geren wasn’t sure about Russ Springer’s availability after pitching two straight days. Michael Wuertz or Andrew Bailey figure to get the call in a save situation tonight.

After saying Eric Patterson would see the majority of time at second base, Geren gave Gregorio Petit the start tonight. As for the rest of the A’s lineup:

Sweeney RF; Cabrera SS; Giambi 1B; Holliday LF; Cust DH; Suzuki C; Crosby 3B; Davis CF; Petit 2B; Cahill P.

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


A’s pregame update — Tuesday

The big A’s news leading up to tonight’s game w/the Yankees involved Joey Devine, who is out for the season after undergoing elbow surgery. You can read about that at contracostatimes.com.

It looks like they’re going to squeeze tonight’s game in. There’s been overcast skies but no rain all day, though there are forecasts for rain later tonight. It’s not nearly as windy as last night, when the rain was blowing sideways across Yankee Stadium.

Eric Chavez is starting at third base and batting seventh in the lineup, the lowest he’s hit all season. Mark Ellis is hitting sixth, as manager Bob Geren pointed to his .500 lifetime average against Andy Pettitte (6-for-12). Nomar Garciaparra is out of the lineup again, though he was scheduled to take batting practice and throw. If his right calf responds well, Geren said Garciaparra’s return could come Friday at home against Tampa Bay, but probably not tomorrow afternoon here in New York.

As was expected, Josh Outman’s turn in the rotation is being skipped following Monday’s rainout. Brett Anderson will start tomorrow, as we knew yesterday, with Trevor Cahill going Friday, Dallas Braden on Saturday and Dana Eveland (tonight’s starter) going Sunday. Outman will pitch out of the bullpen for now, with his next start scheduled for May 2 at Seattle.

Today’s A’s lineup: Sweeney RF; Cabrera SS; Giambi 1B; Holliday LF; Cust DH; Ellis 2B; Chavez 3B; Suzuki C; Davis CF; Eveland P.

Yankees lineup: Jeter SS; Damon LF; Teixeira 1B; Posada C; Cano 2B; Swisher RF; Matsui DH; Ransom 3B; Gardner CF; Pettitte P.


Ellis, Cabrera both starting today

The A’s will have their starting double-play combo in the lineup together for the first time today against the Chicago White Sox. Mark Ellis will make his spring debut at second base, and Orlando Cabrera is back at shortstop after missing seven games because of the flu and lower back stiffness. Ellis told me earlier this spring he didn’t think it would take long to build chemistry w/Cabrera, but manager Bob Geren is happy to finally get them on the field together. “You can do it in practice quite a bit, but to actually feel it in a game is important.”

The infield may also welcome back third baseman Eric Chavez on Friday night against San Diego. And if Chavez is able to play defense and hit in that game, he thinks it’s conceivable he’d be in the Opening Day lineup. “It depends on the workload I’m able to jam in. If I can play Friday or whatever — get an every-other-day or two-days-in-a-row schedule … Hopefully one of (the Bay Bridge Series games) against San Francisco I’m in there nine innings.”

–Despite Josh Outman’s horrible outing last night against the Royals, Geren said he still considers the lefty in the running for the rotation as well as the bullpen. Doesn’t surprise me. With the rotation a question mark, Outman could serve a very important role as a long reliever if he’s not starting.

–Gio Gonzalez said he was looking forward to throwing a side session later today to see how his left shoulder is feeling. He hasn’t been on the mound since hurting his shoulder a couple of weeks ago.

The starting lineup vs. the ChiSox:

Davis CF
Cabrera SS
Ellis 2B
Cust RF
Sweeney DH
Suzuki C
Doolittle 1B
Crosby 3B
Cunningham LF

Brett Anderson is on the mound (I had written a couple days ago he was throwing on tomorrow’s offday. My bad …)


Orlando Cabrera (unofficially) arrives at A’s camp

It’s a weird scene this morning at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where shortstop Orlando Cabrera was in the trainer’s room getting his physical, but the A’s still aren’t confirming his signing yet. Passing the physical is often the last hurdle before a free agent announcement, but word is that the A’s may not announce anything until tomorrow, when they’re likely to combine it w/the signing of Nomar Garciaparra. We actually got a chance to speak briefly with Cabrera, the Athletic who’s not quite an Athletic yet.

Cabrera said he and his wife had just completed the 33-hour drive from Myrtle Beach, S.C., with only a couple of stops on the way. Asked his thoughts about going the whole offseason and part of spring training without being signed, Cabrera said: “Strange market, I guess. I don’t know. I’m just happy to start playing baseball.”

I don’t even know how much he’s gotten a chance to talk to his new teammates. Then again, I guess they’re not really his teammates yet, are they?

Other developments …’

–Justin Duchscherer is flying to Southern California today to get his elbow checked by Dr. Lewis Yocum. The original plan was for Duchscherer’s MRI images to be sent to Yocum, but now he’s getting checked in person this afternoon. Hopefully I’ll know more later on.

–Turns out the Giants granted the A’s request to use a DH at today’s split-squad game in Scottsdale. So Mark Ellis is the starting DH in that game. Most of the regulars are playing there, with another squad taking on Team South Africa at Phoenix Muni. Trevor Cahill starts against the Giants, Dallas Braden goes against South Africa.

–Eric Chavez told me his throwing continues to go well, and that he’s eyeing Monday as a potential day to play third base in a game for the first time.

–Daric Barton felt some tightness in his quadriceps after playing defense for the first time yesterday, and Geren said he’ll be out “a few days.” Apparently this doesn’t have anything to do w/the hip surgery he’s coming back from. But it’s not ideal for a guy who probably needs to play his way into a roster spot now that Garciaparra is in the fold.


Garciaparra also set to join A’s

Is there a team in baseball making more news than the A’s right now? Their infield is about to get a little more crowded, as a source confirmed for me that a one-year deal with Nomar Garciaparra is going to happen. Nothing’s official yet … Garciaparra was contemplating retirement but has opted to join the A’s. He’s being viewed as a backup corner infielder and occasional DH. So it’s shaping up to be quite a crowded infield right now. Assuming everyone’s healthy on Opening Day, I see Eric Chavez at third, Orlando Cabrera at shortstop, Mark Ellis at second, Jason Giambi at first, and Bobby Crosby and Garciaparra as backup infielders. Assuming the A’s keep 12 pitchers, five outfielders and two catchers, that would point to Daric Barton and Jack Hannahan starting the season in the minors.

But the A’s have lots of time to contemplate those roster decisions. …


Duchscherer seeing doctor; more on Crosby

A’s ace Justin Duchscherer will visit a Phoenix-area specialist today, Dr. Doug Freedberg, to have his sore right elbow examined. Bob Geren said he believed Duchscherer also would get an MRI, but didn’t know if that would happen today. The A’s are waiting for the results from Duchscherer’s visit before deciding whether to shut him down for a period. Obviously this development is looking gloomier by the day for the A’s starting rotation, which is already very young and inexperienced even with a healthy Duchscherer.

–I checked in with Bobby Crosby this morning, who reiterated he thinks being traded is the best thing for him now that the A’s are signing Orlando Cabrera to play shortstop (the A’s still aren’t confirming Cabrera’s signing on the record, but it’s going to happen). But Crosby did say that he wouldn’t step forward and demand a trade. “I’m not going to ask for a trade. I’ll let them know when I talk to them that I want to be a shortstop somewhere. It’s not going to be me coming out demanding a trade. The ball’s going to be in their court.” I don’t expect Crosby to rock the boat too much and become a disruption. He doesn’t seem like that kind of guy in the time I’ve gotten to know him. But the truth is, I haven’t gotten any indication of substantial trade interest in him around the majors in recent months. So he may be stuck with serving as the A’s utility infielder. And knowing that third baseman Eric Chavez and second baseman Mark Ellis are no sure things to be 100 percent healthy, there could be at-bats for Crosby as a backup (though if the A’s signed Nomar Garciaparra, it could affect that situation).

–A note on the A’s signing of Cabrera that didn’t make it into my story today: The A’s lose their second-round pick to the White Sox, Cabrera’s former team, in June’s draft. Normally, signing a Type A free agent who was offered arbitration by his former team (as is the case w/Cabrera) costs the signing team a first-round pick. But the A’s have the 12th pick in this draft, and the top 15 picks in the first round are protected.

–Geren said Chavez’s shoulder responded “really well” when he tried making throws to first on the run. But the team is still giving him a few more days before starting him at third in a game.

–You’ll notice something interesting about today’s lineup vs. the Cubs: Jack Cust in the No. 2 spot for the first time this spring. “He is a potential guy that can hit in that slot,” Geren said. “He’s a high on-base (percentage) guy. I like high on-base guys high in the lineup.”

The starting nine:

Davis CF
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Suzuki C
Crosby SS
Dillon 3B
Patterson 2B
Gallagher P