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Rajai gets nod tonight in center

The Internet access is a little spotty in the press box right now, so I’m pounding out my first blog via blackberry. And for some apparent reason, I thought you would find that interesting. …

Anyway, Ryan Sweeney is active but not in tonight’s lineup with lefty Randy Wolf throwing for LA. The Padres have lefty Wade LeBlanc going tomorrow, and Geren said he hadn’t decided yet if Sweeney would start tomorrow or Rajai Da
vis.

Geren said Nomar Garciaparra is probably still a week or two away from being able to start in the field. Once the A’s return to playing in American League parks, Geren could DH Garciaparra and keep playing Jack Cust in right field. He said he didn’t know how he would handle the DH spot yet.

Ill leave you with the lineups now, as my fingers are getting exhausted from blackberry blogging.

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

Dodgers
Pierre LF
Furcal SS
Hudson 2B
Blake 3B
Ethier RF
Kemp CF
Loney 1B
Martin C
Wolf P

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Nomar activated from the DL

Just before first pitch tonight, the A’s announced that infielder Nomar Garciaparra was activated from the disabled list. Outfielder Aaron Cunningham was optioned to Triple-A to make room for him. Obviously the results from Garciaparra’s recent MRI must have been encouraging, though reporters weren’t given much information on the topic.

Garciaparra isn’t starting, and I’m not sure when we’ll see him get his first start. But he’s definitely a pinch-hitting option tonight, and could play defensively if he’s part of a double switch …

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A’s pregame update: Wednesday

Lots of baby stories out at the Coliseum today. Bobby Crosby is in the lineup at first base, his first start since returning to the team after the birth of his son, Tyler, on Monday. Crosby played a couple of innings last night, then returned to San Ramon Regional Medical Center and found that teammate Landon Powell’s wife, Allyson, was in the room next to his wife, Gina. The Powells had their first baby, a boy, just after midnight last night. Powell is expected to arrive at the park before first pitch and be available if needed. …

–Today’s pre-game scene resembled the early days of spring training in February, as pitchers were put through bunt defense practice. The A’s run through such fundamental drills on occasion, and with interleague play coming up in National League parks, the A’s will be seeing lots of opposing pitchers laying down bunts.

–Jason Giambi is out of today’s lineup — just a needed day of rest, according to manager Bob Geren. Aaron Cunningham is back in there at right field after getting hit in the head with a pitch Monday and suffering a concussion. “I feel good,” Cunningham said. “Yesterday I had a little headache, but with a day off, it got me feeling pretty good.”

–Injury roundup: Nomar Garciaparra is getting an MRI tonight on his right calf, which isn’t getting better even with prolonged rest on the DL. … Justin Duchscherer, rehabbing in Phoenix, has thrown twice at 120 feet, but no word yet on when he’ll get back on the mound. … Reliever Dan Giese’s Tommy John surgery went well yesterday, according to Geren.

And now your lineups for tonight:

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

Braden P

Twins:
Gomez CF
Harris SS
Mauer DH
Morneau 1B
Crede 3B
Cuddyer RF
Young LF
Redmond C
Tolbert 2B

Liriano P

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Cahill adding to his arsenal

Something to look for tonight from Trevor Cahill: Bob Geren says he’s been working to perfect a “front-door” sinker against left-handed batters. The pitch basically starts at a guy’s hip and works its way back over the plate. It takes a lot of confidence and trust in the pitch to throw it, because you’re basically aiming for a hitter knowing the pitch will tail back. “It’s not something that’s easily perfected, but it’s almost like having a new pitch,” Geren said. He added that not many pitchers utilize a front-door sinker, but Greg Maddux is an example of somebody who’s had incredible success w/it …

–Checked in w/Ryan Sweeney about his left knee, and he doesn’t sound all that optimistic right now. The A’s staff doesn’t want him to hit or run today. Sweeney found out yesterday he has a sprained MCL. “It’s irritated, so if I start doing stuff it’s going to flare up,” he said. “It’s frustrating.” No talk of the DL yet for Sweeney.

–Geren said he doesn’t expect Nomar Garciaparra to come off the DL when he’s eligible Monday, not a big surprise considering he hadn’t done much in the way of baseball activity since going on the DL.

–Tough news on reliever Dan Giese, who is having Tommy John surgery Tuesday w/Dr. Lewis Yocum. He thought his ulnar nerve simply needed to be moved, but his ulnar collateral ligament was torn, which was causing all the pain with his nerve. He’ll definitely be out at least a full year.

The lineups for tonight’s game, serving as a Jordin Sparks opening act:

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

Cahill P

Orioles
Roberts 2B
Markakis RF
Jones CF
Scott DH
Huff 1B
Mora 3B
Zaun C
Pie LF
Andino SS

Berken P

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Good news — and bad — for A’s

The A’s have put together their first three-game win streak of the season with tonight’s come-from-behind 4-3 win over Seattle. But in the process, they’ve likely lost Nomar Garciaparra to the DL again. He was a late scratch today when his right calf acted up again, and being that the injury has resurfaced twice since he came back from his first DL stint Friday, I’d say it’s a pretty likely conclusion.

On the bright side for the A’s, they got a game-winning hit from Jason Giambi with the bases loaded, after he failed in the same situation in the first inning. Dallas Braden turned in a solid seven innings and was finally rewarded with some run support, not to mention his first victory since April 30.

But maybe the biggest development tonight: A bounce-back effort from closer-at-the-moment Andrew Bailey. The rookie was back to being dominant with a 1-2-3 ninth that included two strikeouts on high 90′s fastballs (if the stadium radar gun is to be believed). It was an important night for Bailey after he blew leads in each of his two previous outings. But remember, Bob Geren still isn’t officially naming him as closer (wink, wink).

Actually, I still think Brad Ziegler will get his number called in the ninth depending on the situation …

12:35 game tomorrow with Trevor Cahill going against Erik Bedard …

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A late scratch

Nomar Garciaparra’s return to the lineup was short-lived. He was a late scratch at DH tonight. We can only assume his right calf started acting up again. Jason Giambi shifts to DH with Bobby Crosby switching from third to first base, and Jack Hannahan entering the lineup at third. Here’s the new order:

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

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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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Bobby Crosby back at shortstop — for a day

Orlando Cabrera is getting his long-awaited first day off of the season, which means Bobby Crosby draws a start at shortstop this afternoon against Seattle. It’s familiar territory for Crosby, of course, being he was the A’s starting shortstop (when healthy) from 2004-08. Although it’s his first start there this season, Crosby did play three innings at short last Monday against Tampa Bay in relief of Cabrera. Cabrera, who played 161 games for the White Sox last season, has said that the occasional break is crucial for him.

Adam Kennedy slides into the leadoff spot for a day. According to baseball-reference.com, Kennedy has started 28 games in the leadoff spot over his career. His approach is pretty basic. “Get on base, however you’re best at getting on base,” Kennedy said this morning. “I don’t think there’s any one way to get on base as a leadoff guy.”

No Nomar Garciaparra in the lineup for a second straight day. He didn’t offer much on the condition of his right calf. “It’s still attached,” he said. Geren is hopeful he’ll be ready to play tomorrow night.

Another injury update: Justin Duchscherer had his throwing session cut short yesterday in Phoenix because his back started bothering him. “His throwing program was set back a couple of days with a little stiff back,” Geren said, adding that Duchscherer’s elbow is feeling good. He’s rehabbing from arthroscopic surgery on his elbow March 31. Duchscherer has said he’s targeting a return sometime in June. Neither Geren nor pitching coach Curt Young thought the back issue will delay him long.

Your A’s lineup for a Memorial Day matinee:
Kennedy 2B; Suzuki C; Cust DH; Holliday LF; Giambi 1B; Ryan Sweeney CF; Buck RF; Crosby SS; Hannahan 3B; Anderson P.

Mariners lineup: Ichiro RF; Betancourt SS; Beltre 3B; Griffey Jr. DH; Mike Sweeney 1B; Lopez 2B; Johjima C; Chavez LF; Gutierrez CF; Jakubauskas P.

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Pregame report for Sunday

Not a whole lot of news to report before today’s game, typical stuff for a day game after a night game. …

After two straight starts at first base, Nomar Garciaparra’s calf was bothering him a bit this morning according to Bob Geren, so he’s out of the lineup. Geren had said he planned to start Garciaparra at DH, but last night’s extra-inning game left him “fatigued,” in Geren’s words. “It’s just better not to play him today.” It’s possible Garciaparrra could pinch-hit if needed.

Kurt Suzuki gets a day off w/Landon Powell catching. That means Adam Kennedy gets his second turn in the No. 2 spot in the order. How impressive has Kennedy been so far? He’s contributing in every facet of the game, and just seeing him in the clubhouse, I get the feeling that losses eat at this guy like crazy. I can’t imagine he’s a very happy camper right now.

I hit Geren w/a question that managers often get after a loss like last night’s: Are losses like that, when you give up a sizable lead, tougher to bounce back from? Or do all losses seem the same when you come back to the park the next day?

“I think we have too many veteran players to let one win or loss (linger) that much,” Geren said. “Their work ethic has been very steady every day. Their attitude has been very steady every day.”

Myself, I wonder much carry-over affect some of these defeats do have. It’s one thing for a team to get beat on a day it comes out flat. It’s another for a team to come out playing well early in a game, get some confidence rolling throughout the dugout, and then let it slip away in the late innings. And those losses are starting to collect for the A’s …

Today’s lineup:

A’s — Cabrera SS; Kennedy 2B; Cust DH; Holliday LF; Giambi 1B; Sweeney CF; Buck RF; Crosby 3B; Powell C; Outman P.

D’backs — Roberts 3B; Parra RF; Upton DH; Drew SS; Reynolds 1B; Snyder C; Byrnes LF; Ojeda 2B; Young CF; Garland P.

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Cunningham sent down to make room for Breslow

It’s a pretty odd situation today with a 4:08 p.m. start (East Coast time) for the A’s-Rays series finale. Not really a day game, not really a night game. …

The A’s just announced that outfielder Aaron Cunningham was optioned to Triple-A to make room for new reliever Craig Breslow, who arrived today. This was a surprise to me, as I figured another reliever would go down. This gives the A’s an eight-man bullpen — highly unusual — but with Russ Springer’s status iffy after he hurt his forearm last night, I guess they felt like they had to play it safe. Bob Geren spoke w/reporters before this news came down.

Lost in the shuffle of last night’s exciting finish: Brad Ziegler’s first save opportunity since April 25. But how many will he get in the coming games? Geren reiterated before the game that he’s not naming an official closer, and that he’ll choose his ninth-inning man based on matchups. He added: “I told (Ziegler) I could use him at any time of the game. Bailey could take (the ninth), or he could take it, based on the matchup.”

Bailey had thrown two innings on Tuesday, which made Ziegler the only logical choice to close last night.

Jason Giambi is at DH today. “He was in need of staying off the field,” Geren said. “DH is the most he could do for me today.” Once Nomar Garciaparra returns, maybe Giambi can get a full day off. He could use one, as he enters today hitting .198, the second lowest batting average in the American League.

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

Rays lineup:
Upton CF; Crawford LF; Longoria 3B; Pena 1B; Bartlett SS; Aybar DH; Iwamura 2B; Kapler RF; Navarro C; Garza P.