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Movin’ out day — lineups for A’s season finale

Boxes were scattered everywhere in the A’s clubhouse this morning and players were shaking hands all around — there’s no hiding it’s the last day of the season.

A’s manager Bob Geren decided to pitch all relievers today, w/Brad Kilby starting. So expect lots of pitching changes. “Honestly, I think it gives us the best chance to win, and that’s been the goal since spring training,” Geren said. Edgar Gonzalez had been the previously announced starter. But Gonzalez is a known quantity to the A’s, and emptying the bullpen gives Geren one last chance to see a lot of relievers.

Here’s today’s lineups, featuring two players likely playing their final game in an A’s uniform — third baseman Bobby Crosby and DH Nomar Garciaparra:

A’s
Davis CF
Ellis 2B
Suzuki C
Nomar DH
Crosby 3B
Barton 1B
Carson RF
Patterson LF
Pennington SS

Kilby LHP

Angels
Figgins 3B
Abreu DH
Hunter CF
Rivera LF
Morales 1B
Kendrick 2B
Matthews Jr. RF
Napoli C
Aybar SS

Saunders LHP

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All’s ‘right’ with A’s batting order tonight

It’s not your typical A’s lineup tonight, with eight right-handed hitters starting against Cleveland lefty David Huff. Nomar Garciaparra (DH) and Bobby Crosby (3B) each get a rare start, and Daric Barton is the lone left-handed bat.

The most intriguing name in the A’s order? Right fielder Matt Carson, called up from Triple-A to make his major league debut at age 28. Ryan Sweeney is battling soreness in his knees, according to Bob Geren. Nothing serious, but enough for the A’s to call up another outfielder, even with Sacramento still in the Triple-A playoffs (the River Cats will be eliminated if they lose tonight, so there’s a chance we could see more call-ups soon).

I remember walking into the A’s clubhouse in spring training, seeing Carson and asking, “Who is this guy?” His signing in November hardly caused a ripple, and he was just one of many anonymous faces around Papago Park when camp opened. But he really caught the A’s attention during Cactus League play, and has only helped his cause this season. Who knows if he’s got a chance to make the team next year? But if Sweeney remains banged up, Carson could see more starts.

With Adam Kennedy getting a day off, Rajai Davis moves into the leadoff spot. Geren said he could easily interchange Kennedy and Davis at the 1-2 slots, but he’s stuck w/Kennedy at leadoff because the offense has been clicking. It’ll be interesting to see if Davis gets a few more looks in the top spot. After all, he’s a pretty realistic leadoff option going into next season.

–Geren on the odds of right-hander Brett Tomko returning to the mound this season: “Probably less than 50-50, but there’s a chance.”

–Dallas Braden, out for the season with nerve damage in his left foot, is with the team today. He’s not doing much in the way of activity, and acknowledged some frustration w/an injury that ended what was a pretty encouraging season for him. He had this to say about his recovery: “There’s about a 90 percent chance of (a full recovery). It could be a month, it could be six months. I could never be the same, or I could bounce back like nothing ever happened.”

Braden and Kurt Suzuki are being honored tonight w/the Dave Stewart Community Service Award.

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Davis CF
Suzuki C
Hairston LF
Nomar DH
Crosby 3B
Ellis 2B
Barton 1B
Carson RF
Pennington SS

Anderson LHP

Indians
Brantley CF
Carroll 2B
Choo RF
Peralta 3B
LaPorta 1B
Shoppach DH
Marson C
Crowe LF
Romero SS

Huff LHP

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A’s Mazzaro likely to miss “1 or 2″ starts

So we’ll get our second look at right-hander Clayton Mortensen tonight as he fills in for Vin Mazzaro. Obviously, Mortensen wasn’t the most heralded of the three players the A’s obtained for Matt Holliday (Brett Wallace holds that distinction). But Mortensen can help himself with a solid outing because it looks like Mazzaro, suffering from shoulder tendinitis, could miss two starts. So pitching well tonight could earn Mortensen a second start.

According to Mazzaro, his shoulder started bothering him about two starts ago. “I didn’t really recover the way I normally do,” Mazzaro said. “I felt a little soreness. … I’ll get a few days off and bounce back. I’ll probably miss one or two starts. I’ll start throwing in five or six days. I’d like to get two or three more (starts before the season ends).”

He said his shoulder feels better today, but this is all new territory for him. He’s never had any shoulder or arm problems before, so he doesn’t know how to gauge the severity of an injury based on how it feels.

A’s manager Bob Geren said Mazzaro has to get through a side session with no problems before being considered for his next outing, but he added that there’s no thought (yet) to shutting the rookie down for the season.

Mortensen gave up eight runs in four innings in his A’s debut on Aug. 8 in Kansas City, and he was sent back to the minors immediately after that. Geren said Mortensen has terrific natural movement on his pitches, and that his key is just staying around the plate and letting that movement work for him (sounds similar to Trevor Cahill).

Two faces in tonight’s lineup that you haven’t seen for a while: Bobby Crosby playing first base and Nomar Garciaparra at DH. Geren wanted to get as many righties as possible in the lineup, as Mariners left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith is very tough on lefties. With Adam Kennedy showing some recent life at the plate (three straight multi-hit games), Geren wanted to keep him out there at third. But that guy is gonna need a rest one of these days, I’d say. …

Tonight’s lineups, featuring Mike Sweeney as a late replacement for Ken Griffey Jr. as Seattle’s DH …
A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Suzuki C
Hairston LF
Nomar DH
Ellis 2B
Crosby 1B
Sweeney RF
Pennington SS

Mortensen RHP

Mariners
Ichiro RF
Gutierrez CF
Lopez 2B
Sweeney DH
Beltre 3B
Hall LF
Carp 1B
Johjima C
Wilson SS

Rowland-Smith LHP

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A little more on Giambi

Just got done with our pregame session with Bob Geren, but we didn’t learn a whole lot of specifics about Jason Giambi’s quad injury. But Geren said it wasn’t an injury that happened yesterday, but has been building for a while. Can he return when he’s eligible to come off the DL Aug. 4? Geren didn’t say, so hopefully I’ll be able to grab Giambi when we’re allowed back in the clubhouse. His legs have bothered him pretty much all season, but how much that’s contributed to his .193 batting average is anyone’s guess.

I’m thinking the A’s won’t rush him to get back on the field. This is a chance for Daric Barton to get a long look, especially since Nomar Garciaparra’s health concerns limit his availability. But Geren pointed out the A’s will face lefties in three out of four games on the upcoming road trip to New York and Boston, so he’ll want Garciaparra in the lineup for those games as much as possible.

–The A’s invited fourth-round draft pick Max Stassi to take batting practice with them today. A catcher out of Yuba City High, Stassi caught Trevor Cahill’s bullpen session in front of a large group of A’s officials. The A’s really want to sign Stassi, who has gotten rave reviews from scouts. But he’s signed with UCLA, so he has a nice fallback plan. “I’m excited,” said Stassi, who’s being advised by Greg Genske. “Both ways it’s going to be a tough decision. We’re going to get to talking and see where it goes from here.”

Today’s lineups

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

Gonzalez LHP

Twins
Span CF
Punto SS
Morneau 1B
Cuddyer RF
Kubel DH
Young LF
Harris 3B
Redmond C
Casilla 2B

Blackburn RHP

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A’s pregame update — Sunday

A few pregame tidbits as the A’s finish what must feel like a very loooong first half …

–After his big homer last night, Rajai Davis gets a start in right field. Extended punishment for Ryan Sweeney for not running out a pop-up? Bob Geren wouldn’t say that. He said he wanted to get as many right-handed bats as possible in the lineup against Tampa Bay right-hander James Shields. Righties actually fare better against Shields and his nasty change-up than lefties (rh’s hitting .280 compared to .262 for lh’s). Nomar Garciaparra gets a start at first base, with switch-hitting Landon Powell catching. Kurt Suzuki is the DH. Jack Cust, who struck out four times last night, sits as he’s 2-for-15 against Shields.

–Geren had planned to play Garciaparra at first today over Giambi all along, but Geren said Giambi should be available to pinch-hit with his bruised right elbow.

–With the A’s coming out of the All-Star break with 28 straight games, Geren said Powell will have to spell Suzuki more often, and he wanted to squeeze in a start for him before the break so he wasn’t too rusty when the A’s return to the field.

–Someone who deserved mention from last night’s game — reliever Michael Wuertz. He struck out the side in his one inning of work and has 20 strikeouts in his past 10 2/3 innings (8 games). His 50 strikeouts are tied for second among AL relievers. The league leader, of course, is his All-Star teammate, Andrew Bailey (59).

–Geren listed his rotation coming out of the break. Dallas Braden will start the opener of a four-game home series against the Angels on Thursday. He’ll be followed by Trevor Cahill, Vin Mazzaro, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez. Geren said he wanted to try to maximize the rest for his young starters. Braden is going on regular four days’ rest, but Geren said that’s OK because the lefty just had a 10-day layoff.

The lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Hairston CF
Holliday LF
Garciaparra 1B
Suzuki DH
Powell C
Davis RF
Ellis 2B

Anderson LHP

Rays
Upton CF
Aybar 2B
Longoria 3B
Pena 1B
Zobrist RF
Burrell DH
Bartlett SS
Kapler LF
Hernandez C

Shields RHP

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A’s-Sox pregame update — Tuesday

It was pouring rain earlier today in Boston, and I was giving this game zero chance of being played. But the skies have cleared a bit and the sun is out over Fenway, so it’s looking more promising. Dana Eveland takes the hill for the A’s tonight in place of Dallas Braden, who is on bereavement leave. You might remember Eveland’s only previous start at Fenway didn’t go so well last August. He surrendered nine runs in two innings, including five in the first. He goes against Josh Beckett tonight.

We were all speculating earlier about whether they might play a doubleheader tomorrow if tonight was rained out. The A’s also play a four-game series here July 27-30, so they could play a twin bill one of those days, I suppose. Anyway, this game should get in. …

Scott Hairston is starting in center and hitting third for the A’s. “Third is where he hit all year in San Diego (before Sunday’s trade),” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “I like what our 1-2 guys are doing. I think (Hairston) could be a nice fit (hitting) 1,2 or 3.”

Geren added that Rajai Davis would still get some starts, either spelling Sweeney in right field or Hairston in center. And he didn’t rule out Jack Cust still getting a little time in right. Jason Giambi and Nomar Garciaparra figure to eat up some at-bats at DH ….

Here are your lineups:

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

Eveland LHP

Red Sox
Drew RF
Pedroia 2B
Youkilis 3B
Bay LF
Ortiz DH
Varitek C
Ellsbury CF
Green SS
Bates 1B

Beckett RHP

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Awaiting the All-Star word

We won’t know until around first pitch this afternoon (1:05 p.m. in Cleveland) who makes the All-Star team from the A’s. But I’d be shocked if it’s anybody but catcher Kurt Suzuki. He’s really been their most consistent hitter, and I think he’s done very well handling a starting rotation where the average age is just 22 years old. He’s also garnered a lot of respect around the majors for the improvement he’s shown behind the plate. We’ll find out in a little less than an hour …

Jason Giambi is not in this afternoon’s lineup. His average is back down to .197 after last night’s 0-for-4. “He’s definitely in need of (a day off) today,” manager Bob Geren said this morning, adding Giambi could use the rest both from a physical and mental standpoint. Matt Holliday has been batting third, but with Giambi out, he slides into the cleanup spot and Suzuki (today’s DH) hits third. With switch-hitter Landon Powell catching, the A’s have seven right-handed bats in the lineup against lefty Cliff Lee.

Nomar Garciaparra is not one of them. It’ll be interesting to see how much Garciaparra plays in the upcoming three-game series at Boston. This will be his first trip back to Fenway Park as a visiting player (while on the active roster). I’m sure he’d like to play against his old team, but Garciaparra’s calf problems just won’t allow him to play on a regular basis, and he said this morning that serving as DH isn’t necessary less strenuous than playing defense.

As for today’s game, we’ll see how Gio Gonzalez fares in his third start. Tuesday’s five-inning effort against Detroit was a step in the right direction, so we’ll find out if he can build on it. …

Today’s lineups
A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Suzuki DH
Holliday LF
Cust RF
Ellis 2B
Powell C
Crosby 1B
Davis CF

Gonzalez LHP

Indians
A. Cabrera SS
Carroll 2B
Sizemore DH
Choo RF
Peralta 3B
Garko 1B
Francisco CF
Gimenez LF
Shoppach C

Lee LHP

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

Mazzaro RHP

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

Pavano RHP

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Friday update from Cleveland

Major leaguers find no shortage of ways to kill time leading up to batting practice. And the visitors’ clubhouse here at Progressive Field in Cleveland has an arcade-like vibe going on with the selection of video games. Several A’s players were taking full advantage this afternoon. It sounded like Chuck E. Cheese when I walked in …

On to today’s news … The A’s starting rotation has been tweaked for the upcoming games. Gio Gonzalez and Brett Anderson have been flip-flopped, with Gonzalez pitching Sunday against the Indians and Brett Anderson going Monday against the Red Sox. The A’s liked what they saw with Anderson in terms of his velocity in his last start, when he had two extra days’ rest because of arm fatigue. Bob Geren said Anderson is feeling fine physically right now, and that the A’s simply wanted to give him a little extra rest again. Because the A’s were off Thursday, Gonzalez still gets to go on four days’ rest. “Brett responded well last time with the extra days, so we’re going to give him one more day,” Geren said.

The plan is for Gonzalez to pitch out of the bullpen against Tampa Bay next weekend leading into the All-Star break, so Sunday will be his last start of the first half. With another day off this Thursday, the A’s had some flexibility in the rotation. This lines up the other four starters — Trevor Cahill, Vin Mazzaro, Anderson and Dallas Braden — to make two more starts before the break, while Gio gets one.

–Geren made a late change in tonight’s lineup, putting Nomar Garciaparra at first base and Jason Giambi at DH. They originally were flip-flopped. Geren wanted to see how Garciaparra felt taking infield practice before making the switch. This marks Garciaparra’s first defensive start since coming off the DL.

–The babies keep arriving for A’s players. SEcond baseman Mark Ellis’ wife, Sarah, gave birth to a girl yesterday. Ellis is flying to Cleveland as I write this, so Adam Kennedy moves back to second base for a day, and Bobby Crosby gets the start at third.

Your lineups:

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

Cahill RHP

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

Huff LHP

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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:

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

Cahill P

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

De La Rosa P