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Michael Taylor makes his debut with A’s

Outfielder Michael Taylor was among three players the A’s called up from the minors before Friday’s series opener against Seattle.

It marks the big league debutfor Taylor, 25, a much talked-about prospect since the A’s acquired him from Toronto for infielder Brett Wallace before the 2010 season. Taylor hit .272 with 16 homers and 64 RBIs in 93 games for Triple-A Sacramento.

Infielder Adam Rosales and reliever Andrew Carignan also were called up. To clear a 40-man roster spot for Carignan, making his major league debut, first baseman Daric Barton was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

The A’s also reinstated reliever Michael Wuertz from the 15-day DL.

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Rain continues to fall at the Coliseum, but A’s-Angels game is still on

Here’s the situation at the Coliseum … The rain is falling steadily, batting practice has been canceled on the field, but the A’s have no plans to postpone tonight’s game against the Angels. That’s what we’re hearing. The forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of rain by 7 p.m., dropping to 15 percent by 8 p.m. If the A’s haven’t canceled this thing by now, they’re willing to wait it out to see if they can squeeze it in, even if it means delaying the 7:05 first pitch.

Remember what it was like during rainy day recess in elementary school, when everyone was stuck in the classroom and all activity was indoors? That’s the scene right now in the A’s clubhouse. Everyone is milling around, grabbing a bite to eat and wondering if this game is going to be played. The busiest guy in the building right now? Head groundskeeper Clay Wood, who was walking the field earlier – in shorts, with rain pouring down – surveying what kind of condition the field was in. There are puddles on the warning track, and groundskeepers are sweeping water off the infield tarp. It’s not going to be ideal playing conditions even if the rain stops.

It’s bizarre to even consider a rainout for an A’s home game. The last home rainout was May 5, 1998 against the Detroit Tigers. How many will show up for this one? Monday night games usually draw poorly anyway, and you can take it to the bank that tonight’s crowd is below the season-low of 9,193 that showed up for a May 2 game against the Rangers.

The update from Bob Geren’s pregame media chat:

–Andrew Bailey is heading to Phoenix to throw in another extended spring training game Tuesday. “That’s what he felt he’d like to do. Ronny (pitching coach Ron Romanick) talked with him on where he’s at, what he’s comfortable doing,” Geren said. The other option was for Bailey to just go out on a rehab assignment with Single-A Stockton or Triple-A Sacramento. The advantage for the A’s in an extended spring game is it’s a “controlled” environment. The A’s can stop the action, manipulate innings to keep Bailey out there for four outs if they choose – the situation can be tailored to what he needs. But pitching in minor league games will be a better test for Bailey because it’s regular game conditions. That’s the next step after Tuesday. There’s still no indication of how many minor league games Bailey will need to pitch in before returning.

–Dallas Braden’s shoulder surgery has been rescheduled for Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. He was originally supposed to have the operation today, but his flight to New York was canceled Sunday.

–Rich Harden, on the 60-day DL with a side muscle injury, is doing strengthening exercises but still not throwing. He’s nowhere close to returning yet.

–Geren talked about Michael Wuertz’s dominant form lately out of the bullpen. The guy has given up just one hit in eight appearances since coming off the DL for a hamstring injury. You’ll notice he’s starting to be used more in late-inning situations, and Geren considers him another right-handed setup option, filling the same role as Grant Balfour when Balfour isn’t available. Until Bailey returns, Wuertz’s effectiveness is even more important for the ‘pen. I’ll have more on Wuertz in tomorrow’s paper. …

Tonight’s lineups (assuming there’s baseball)

A’s – Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Willingham LF, Matsui DH, Suzuki C, DeJesus RF, Ellis 2B, Kouzmanoff 3B, Pennington SS; Anderson LHP.

Angels – Aybar SS, Abreu DH, Izturis 2B, Hunter RF, Kendrick LF, Callaspo 3B, Trumbo 1B, Wilson C, Bourjos CF; Pineiro RHP.

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Baseball under the roof (sort of)

It’s raining in Seattle today but the roof is closed at Safeco Field, which provides a weird dynamic. The roof does not enclose the entire stadium. There are huge gaps of open air, so the cold weather sweeps through the stadium even when there’s “indoor” baseball being played. If you’re ever looking to plan a road trip to watch the A’s, I highly recommend Seattle as your destination. It’s a great city to navigate on foot, and Safeco Field is considered among the major leagues’ best stadiums, for good reason. Just remember to bundle up when you get here …

–Pretty standard lineup for the A’s today, with the exception of Landon Powell catching instead of Kurt Suzuki. It was a planned day off for Suzuki, who hasn’t left the team yet for the birth of his baby.

A’s – Crisp CF, Barton 1B, DeJesus RF, Willingham LF, Matsui DH, Ellis 2B, Powell C, Kouzmanoff 3B, Pennington SS; Anderson LHP.

Mariners – Ichiro DH, Figgins 3B, Bradley LF, Olivo C, Kennedy 1B, Ryan SS, Saunders CF, Wilson 2B, Langerhans RF; Fister RHP.

–Michael Wuertz could rejoin the A’s bullpen for the upcoming three-game series with the Angels. He threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts Saturday night for Triple-A Sacramento, his best rehab outing yet. Manager Bob Geren said Wuertz would get checked by the training staff in Oakland today, and that would help determine when he gets activated. The A’s need this guy in the ‘pen. They’ve got just two right-handers right now, and though Grant Balfour and Brad Ziegler are both throwing well, a little more righty-lefty balance would be nice.

–Did you like the A’s aggressiveness on the bases last night? They stole three bases as part of their 12-hit attack, and I’d expect them to continue pressing the action with the running game. Geren says he’s looking to pull all strings to get the offense rolling consistently. He still looks for favorable pitcher/catcher matchups that allow for stealing, but I think the A’s need to error on the side of aggression right now. Of course, if they hit as they did Saturday night, the running game isn’t nearly as vital …

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All-AL West road trip provides an early test

It’s only April, but any road trip made up solely of AL West foes is important for the A’s. They begin a four-game series against the Mariners tonight, and then play three against the Los Angeles Angels, who found themselves alone in first place beginning play today. “It’s an early run through the division, but you want to fare well,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “It seems year to year that whoever does best in the division ends up winning.”

Not that you would care much about this, but Safeco Field might have the coldest press box in the American League. It’s just big and spacious and there’s not a lot of warmth, so you have to game-plan with what you wear in here. I brought a heavy jacket, but I try to hold off on wearing it until the later innings. Once you put your jacket on, it’s your last line of defense. When you start freezing in your jacket, forget about it. So I try to tough it out as long as I can. Grrrr ….

The A’s draw a hard assignment tonight against Felix Hernandez, who is 5-2 with a 2.26 ERA at home against the A’s in eight career starts (62 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings). He also threw a five-hitter to beat them opening night at the Coliseum. But the A’s counter with Brandon McCarthy, who has been a real pleasant surprise for Oakland at the back of the rotation. It’s a quality pitching matchup to start this road trip …

Hideki Matsui is out of the lineup, with Josh Willingham serving as DH and Conor Jackson getting a start in left field. Matsui is a .207 career hitter against Hernandez with one homer in 29 at-bats. Jackson is hitless in three at-bats against King Felix.

Michael Wuertz will pitch again for Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday. Wuertz gave up three runs on three hits with two walks in one inning against Reno on Wednesday. “Hopefully he’ll pitch more efficiently,” Geren said. “He hasn’t been sharp yet.” So the five lefties remain in the A’s bullpen …

The lineups, with Daric Barton just announced as a late scratch (no reason given).

A’s – Crisp CF, DeJesus RF, Jackson 1B, Willingham DH, Sweeney LF, Suzuki C, Ellis 2B, Kouzmanoff 3B, Pennington SS; McCarthy RHP.

Mariners – Ichiro RF, Figgins 3B, Kennedy 1B, Cust DH, Saunders CF, Olivo C, Peguero LF, Ryan SS, Wilson 2B; Hernandez RHP.

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Tyson Ross gets Friday start vs. Seattle; Dallas Braden visiting Dr. Yocum in Los Angeles

A’s manager Bob Geren confirmed what had seemed likely: Tyson Ross will start Friday vs. Seattle in Dallas Braden’s place. How long will he remain in the rotation? That depends on the severity of Braden’s shoulder injury. Braden is flying to Southern California on Wednesday to be examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum. The A’s have sent several pitchers to Yocum to be examined over the years. Sometimes a long-term injury is revealed, sometimes it turns out to be minor. Braden wasn’t available in the clubhouse before batting practice, though he is at the ballpark.

Ross made the team last season as a reliever, got a couple of spot starts in place of Justin Duchscherer, and then struggled after he was put back in the bullpen, eventually getting sent down to Triple-A Sacramento. I’d like to see this guy get an extended stretch as a starter, whether that’s in the majors or with Sacramento. If the A’s see his long-term potential being in the rotation, then I think that’s where he needs to pitch. He’s not so dominant out of the ‘pen that you absolutely have to pitch him there.

Ross is excited to be getting his shot to start. Michael Wuertz? Not quite so enthusiastic right now. Wuertz (strained left hamstring) says he’s ready to be activated from the DL, but the A’s are having him make a third rehab appearance Wednesday. He’ll travel to Reno to pitch for Sacramento. Wuertz had a shaky first outing for Single-A Stockton, giving up three runs, but fared better Monday. He allowed a run in one inning but struck out three. “They just told me to go down, make another appearance and go from there,” Wuertz said. “To me, I’d like to be out there right now. It’s just the way it is.” Manager Bob Geren said he wants to see how Wuertz fares pitching an inning-plus, and the A’s will decide his next step afterward.

–Got a chance to meet David Purcey, the new addition to the A’s bullpen. Nice guy … After being designated for assignment by Toronto last Tuesday, he went home to Dallas when he got word that the A’s traded for him Monday. Purcey didn’t mind the down time – his wife Kate is expecting twins, the couple’s first children …

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s – Crisp CF, Barton 1B, DeJesus RF, Willingham LF, Matsui DH, Suzuki C, Ellis 2B, Kouzmanoff 3B, Pennington SS; Anderson LHP.

Red Sox – Lowrie SS, Pedroia 2B, Gonzalez 1B, Youkilis 3B, Ortiz DH, Cameron RF, Crawford LF, Saltalamacchia C, McDonald CF; Lackey RHP.

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LaRoche might get more time at third base

Are you still wondering what to make of this A’s team? So am I … After showing signs of life on the road, the offense was silenced last night. The A’s try to even this four-game series against Detroit tonight, with Brandon McCarthy attempting to make it three straight strong starts to begin his 2011 season.

Andy LaRoche draws his second straight start at third base, and A’s manager Bob Geren said he might give LaRoche an extended look there. Kevin Kouzmanoff is hitting just .171 in 13 games and he’s made four errors. He just looks off defensively right now. “I told him guys have ups and downs fielding and have ups and downs hitting,” Geren said. “Right now he’s having a rough time with both of them. But I have confidence he’ll break out offensively and defensively, because he’s done it in the past.”

That’s not to say there won’t be any defensive adventures with LaRoche. I asked him about that ugly sacrifice fly in the eighth inning last night, when left fielder Josh Willingham caught a fly ball in left-center, fired a throw to third and no one was there covering, which allowed a second run to score on the play. LaRoche was positioned to be the cutoff man for a throw home (there were runners on second and third to start the play).

LaRoche said he wandered away from third to be cutoff man because the runner at second was not tagging up. At any rate, there was confusion on the play, and LaRoche said a game plan is in place to better handle the situation next time. With runners on second and third and less than two outs, if there’s a fly ball to left-center, one possibility is to have first baseman Daric Barton be the cutoff man, allowing the third baseman to stay at third. As we’ve seen, the A’s are likely to be in a lot of close games this season, and they can’t afford to be giving away extra runs. …

–Michael Wuertz (strained left hamstring) is scheduled to throw one inning for Single-A Stockton on Saturday. If that goes well, he might do so again Sunday. Geren said they would wait to see how Wuertz comes out of Saturday’s outing before proceeding with his next step. The right-hander has been on the DL since April 6 …

The lineups:

A’s – Crisp CF, Barton 1B, DeJesus RF, Willingham LF, Matsui DH, Ellis 2B, Suzuki C, LaRoche 3B, Pennington SS; McCarthy RHP.

Tigers – Rhymes 2B, Raburn LF, Boesch RF, Cabrera 1B, Martinez DH, Kelly CF, Inge 3B, Avila C, Santiago SS; Porcello RHP.

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Crisp sits with back soreness as A’s try to clinch winning road trip

Today feels like one of those “swing games” for the A’s, where the outcome really shapes how you look back on this road trip. A win leaves them at 5-4, which would be a nice accomplishment for a challenging nine-game trip early in the year. A 4-5 finish wouldn’t be terrible, but the A’s don’t want the momentum from their three-game winning streak to evaporate completely. Brett Anderson takes the ball after his sharp eight-inning effort last time out against the Twins …

–Coco Crisp is not in the lineup — his back is still bothering him. A’s manager Bob Geren said Crisp felt about the same as he did last night when he left the game for a pinch hitter, so he’s getting some rest. No indication right now that this is anything to be alarmed about.

Daric Barton gets his first day off, with Andy LaRoche playing first base. Barton played in 159 of 162 games last season, and I think he could benefit from a few more off-days. But is it best to sit a guy when he’s coming off a four-hit night? Geren said it was a tough call, but added that Barton’s body was in need of a break. “He could use a day.”

–A couple of relievers knocked some rust off last night. Craig Breslow made his first appearance in 10 days, and Brad Ziegler hadn’t thrown in six. That’s a tough gig for guys who’ve been off that long to enter a tight game and be sharp. Breslow, who finished the fifth in relief of Trevor Cahill, was mad at himself for walking the leadoff man in the sixth, which led to the Sox’s tying run. Overall, Geren said he was pleased with how Breslow and Ziegler looked, and that they’d be called on more frequently. With A’s starters pitching deep in games, a few relievers are bound to have long layoffs. But I wouldn’t expect Breslow to get that much inactivity moving forward. His performance is a key to this bullpen’s effectiveness, especially with Andrew Bailey and Michael Wuertz on the DL.

Wuertz, by the way, is scheduled to throw a simulated game Thursday at the Coliseum. If that goes well, he would pitch in a minor league game Saturday. So it looks like his return won’t be far off.

Enough rambling, here’s the lineups …

A’s — DeJesus CF, Ellis 2B, Jackson RF, Willingham LF, Matsui DH, Kouzmanoff 3B, Suzuki C, LaRoche 1B, Pennington SS; Anderson LHP.

White Sox – Pierre LF, Beckham 2B, Dunn DH, Konerko 1B, Quentin RF, Rios CF, Ramirez SS, Castro C, Morel 3B; Danks LHP.

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A’s place Michael Wuertz on DL with strained left hamstring; Tyson Ross called up as expected

The latest from Toronto …

The A’s have called Tyson Ross up as a reliever, with Michael Wuertz going on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. This is the first we’ve heard of Wuertz’s injury. Dallas Braden is still starting Wednesday night’s game … I’ll update again after Bob Geren addresses the media …

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Rangers (at least some of them) face A’s in first spring matchup

The Texas Rangers roll into town today to play their first exhibition against the A’s, but it won’t be a real accurate representation of the squad the A’s will see in the regular season. Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre (who’s hurt) are not making the trip. But ace C.J. Wilson is on the mound.

The lineups:

A’s:
DeJesus RF
Suzuki C
Jackson 1B
Matsui DH
Kouzmanoff 3B
Carson CF
Carter LF
Tolleson SS
Weeks 2B

Braden LHP.

Rangers:
Borbon CF
German 2B
Moreland 1B
Barden DH
Davis 3B
Teagarden C
Deeds RF
Engel Beltre LF
Andres Blanco SS

Wilson LHP

–A’s manager Bob Geren said he sees David DeJesus as a good leadoff candidate when Coco Crisp doesn’t play. DeJesus has lots of experience atop the order from his time with the Royals. Mark Ellis and Cliff Pennington could also fill the role, according to Geren, but DeJesus is the most natural fit.

–Under-the-radar Athletic who is having a nice camp so far: Matt Carson. He homered yesterday and made a great catch slamming into the right field wall against the Brewers. He’s getting a start in center today.

–Outfielder Ryan Sweeney thinks about three weeks is needed for him to get his timing at the plate and be ready for the regular season. He’s scheduled to play in his first game Wednesday – he’s been brought along slowly while he recovers from knee surgery – and that would give him three weeks before the April 1 opener. “In batting practice, everything feels great. It’s just the timing in games,” he said. Sweeney was scheduled to face Andrew Bailey and Craig Breslow this morning in batting practice. He said he’s been shagging flies and his knee feels good.

–Reliever Joey Devine reached the 92-93 mph range in his last outing Wednesday, and Geren said his slider was sharp too. That’s a good sign for the A’s, obviously, and if Devine continues to round into form in Cactus League games, one of the seven bullpen spots surely is his. Speaking of relievers, Michael Wuertz threw 30 pitches yesterday off the mound and his shoulder came out of it fine. He’ll throw off the mound at least one more time before facing hitters. “He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t need 10 to 12 outings,” Geren said. “It could be five or six and he’ll be ready to go.”

–Rich Harden (side muscle injury) played catch at 80 feet today, but there’s no word on when he’ll get back on the mound.

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A’s relievers still being handled carefully; the batting order takes shape

Hideki Matsui makes his A’s debut today, but don’t read too much into the rest of the lineup against the Angels with so many regulars getting the day off. David DeJesus is still trying to shake off a stomach bug, but it’s possible he’ll play tomorrow against the Reds. Here’s your starting nine:

Ellis 2B
Suzuki C
Matsui DH
Jackson 1B
Kouzmanoff 3B
Carson CF
Carter LF
Taylor RF
Tolleson SS

Braden P

**Joel Pineiro is on the hill for the Angels.

–Michael Wuertz is scheduled to throw off the mound Thursday for the first time since his shoulder soreness started. Fellow reliever Craig Breslow has had some tenderness in his throwing arm, according to manager Bob Geren, so there’s no indication yet when he’ll appear in a game. Closer Andrew Bailey is probably 5-7 days away from his first game. Those are three key guys in the bullpen, but I’d attribute their inactivity to the A’s precaution as opposed to anything seriously bothering any of these guys. The plan has been to limit their throwing early to preserve them for the regular season.

–A little insight into the batting order: Geren said he wants a right-handed hitter to bat behind Hideki Matsui (the likely No. 5 hitter). He mentioned Kurt Suzuki, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Mark Ellis as possibilities for the sixth spot. So bit by bit, we can piece together how the order will look. If I had to project right now, I’d say: Crisp, Barton, DeJesus, Willingham, Matsui, Kouzmanoff/Suzuki, Ellis, Pennington.

How would that lineup strike you, A’s fans?