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Sunday update

***Updated****
Talked to Joey Devine a bit ago. He said his elbow felt fine during a 32-pitch bullpen session off the mound this morning. He threw all of his pitches and said he’s on target to pitch in a minor league game Tuesday.

The Sunday morning happenings in A’s land:

–Eric Chavez took 25 swings on a back diamond behind Phoenix Municipal Stadium and said it went well. He mentioned this morning he’d take tomorrow off from hitting but may take regular batting practice w/the team Tuesday. Bob Geren was asked how it would be determined if Chavez could be ready for the start of the regular season. “If he feels good at the plate and he’s throwing the ball OK, he’s ready. But he has to get out there and test that shoulder swinging and throwing.”

–Geren expects shortstop Orlando Cabrera to miss another few days with his lower back tightness. Friday would be the earliest he’d return to the lineup. Considering the time he’s missed, Geren acknowledged the importance of getting Bobby Crosby a little time at shortstop, as well as the other infield spots. Crosby is starting at third today, w/Cliff Pennington at shortstop. About Cabrera, keep in mind he’s been one of the game’s most durable players over the years. He played 161 games last season.

–Justin Duchscherer is still scheduled to throw a bullpen session tomorrow. Joey Devine was set to throw a bullpen session today, but I haven’t talked to him yet.

–I wrote yesterday that Dallas Braden would start today against the White Sox. The A’s have decided to pitch him in relief, and give the start to Vin Mazzaro. Don’t read anything into that. Braden is set to throw on three days’ rest Thursday in a minor league game, when the A’s are off. His schedule got thrown off because he was scratched Saturday after getting a root canal.

Today’s lineup:

Buck RF
Suzuki C
Sweeney CF
Holliday LF
Ellis DH
Barton 1B
Crosby 3B
Pennington SS
Petit 2B

Mazzaro on the hill …

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Devine not throwing — sore elbow

Justin Duchscherer isn’t the only key man on the A’s pitching staff who’s nursing a sore elbow. Joey Devine, expected to share closer duties w/Brad Ziegler to start the season, has some tendinitis that started bothering him after he last pitched Wednesday. Both he and manager Bob Geren downplayed it this morning, but Devine didn’t know when he would start throwing again. “I just felt it tightening up a little bit,” he said. “Instead of it getting worse, let’s catch it early.” But it has to cause the A’s some concern, however, considering Devine spent time on the DL last season w/an elbow injury.

–Sean Gallagher, today’s scheduled starter against the Padres, was scratched because he’s sick. Gio Gonzalez was bumped up from Sunday’s start to take his place.

–Bobby Crosby’s introduction to the right side of the infield began this morning, as he fielded grounders at second base and took some throws at first base. With the arrival of Orlando Cabrera, Crosby’s preference is still to be dealt somewhere where he can play shortstop, but as long as he’s with the A’s he’ll have to be a jack-of-all-trades type guy.

–Geren estimated first baseman Daric Barton is about a week away from playing as he battles a sore right quadriceps.

***A couple of items I didn’t touch on in today’s paper regarding the arrival of Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra:

–Geren wouldn’t predict where he’d hit Cabrera, saying only that he’d bat somewhere near the top of the lineup. Cabrera hit primarily first or second w/the White Sox last season. His career numbers are best at No. 2, but I think the A’s have to seriously consider him for the leadoff spot. They never found a consistent presence there last season, and Cabrera has all the attributes for the role — a guy who can get on base, steal a bag and set the table for the middle of the order.

–Garciaparra is wearing No. 1 right now, significant because no A’s player or coach has worn that number in a regular season game since former manager Billy Martin in 1982. In fact, no Athletic has worn No. 1 in spring training since outfielder Ron Gant did early this decade, and that was because he was a late arrival to camp like Garciaparra. Longtime A’s equipment manager Steve Vucinich said he didn’t have many single-digit numbers to offer Garciaparra. But he added: “Nomar would be a Billy kind of guy. I think (he’s) a hard-nosed player, a ‘team’ before ‘I’ guy.” In any case, Vucinich said Garciaparra would likely switch numbers before the regular season, as cuts are made and more numbers become available.

Cabrera is wearing No. 18 by the way. Catcher Rob Bowen gave him the number and is now No. 20 …

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Cabrera on field with A’s; Nomar may arrive today

As I write this, Orlando Cabrera is on the field working out w/the A’s, yet the team still has not publicly acknowledged his signing. Strange indeed. But we do know there’s supposed to be a press conference at about noon to announce the signing of him and Nomar Garciaparra, the two newest members of the infield. My understanding is Garciaparra might be in attendance at the press conference, he might not. The only thing I can think is that the A’s just wanted to address both players at the same time rather than do two separate sessions. Still weird … Cabrera is wearing No. 18 by the way. He’s not in today’s lineup.

–Reporters waited for more than an hour for manager Bob Geren to do his mornining media chat, but he never emerged from the clubhouse. Normally he does it right when the team stretches at 9:15. A good chunk of whatever meeting was going on presumably involved Bobby Crosby, because he didn’t join his teammates on the field until about 10:10. I’d think Crosby had to have been talking to Geren and GM Billy Beane regarding his status, whether the team might try to find a trade for him, etc. Crosby is starting at shortstop today …

–Justin Duchscherer is back with the team after visiting Dr. Lewis Yocum. Duchscherer said no major damage was found w/his elbow, but “there is wear and tear” from years of pitching. He’s going to try throwing again Monday (just catch, not on the mound). He was relieved that it doesn’t appear to be a long-term injury, and seemed a little more at ease than a couple of days ago. But he’s not predicting when he might get on the mound. “I don’t want to put any expectations,” he said. “I just want to listen to my body.” Chances would seem to be pretty slim that he could start the season opener.

–Today’s lineup vs. the Seattle Mariners, who I’m told won’t bring Ken Griffey Jr. w/them to Phoenix …

Davis CF
Suzuki C
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Chavez DH
Crosby SS
Cunningham RF
Dillon 3B
Wimberly 2B

Edgar Gonzalez on the mound …

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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.

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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. …

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“Bobby, you’re hot!”

The above was the persistent cry of a lone female fan at the Coliseum last year, and given how empty the place often was, it often echoed like a public address statement.

Obviously, it didn’t refer to his game.

A’s management clearly came to realize this, too. Finally. Four full seasons after thinking they’d found a suitable replacement for Miguel Tejada, the A’s essentially gave Crosby his walking papers on Wednesday.┬áNot a moment too soon, either.

Look, I like Crosby. Good guy. Works extremely hard. Always been accountable. But the guy has a hole in his swing that size of a hula hoop, and even though he’s done an incredible amount of work to correct it, a guy can only do so much. So while his offensive numbers may improve, he’s never going to be what the A’s thought they had. Thus, the reason it’s smart to cut bait and find another solution.

Orlando Cabrera provides that opportunity. Our paper had a terrific graphic today, indicating just how much of an upgrade this is. What it compared were the three-year averages of Cabrera and Crosby over the past three seasons. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s what they are.

Games — Cabrera 156, Crosby 111

Average — Cabrera .288, Crosby .232

Home Runs — Cabrera 8, Crosby 8

RBI — Cabrera 72, Crosby 44

On-Base Pct. — Cabrera .338, Crosby .292

Errors — Cabrera 14, Crosby 14

I have a tough time believing Crosby will last in Oakland all season, and I’d be a tad surprised if he’s even there come Opening Day. He’s making $5.25 million, which makes him expensive in this time of economic downturn and too rich to be a “super sub,” which is how the A’s apparently perceive him now (all in all, I’d rather have Marco Scutaro in that role; oh wait, the A’s gave him away). Meantime, it would seem to reason that some team will find itself with a need for a shortstop at some point.

In the meantime, another favorite chant among a couple of my colleagues can be repeated with luster and good feeling this morning.

“NO MORE BOBBY CROSBY, NO MORE BOBBY CROSBY.”

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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

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A’s, Cabrera agree on one-year deal

I just talked to Orlando Cabrera’s agent, Dan Lozano of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, who confirmed that a deal is in place with the A’s for one year in the neighborhood of $4 million. “Orlando is extremely excited,” Lozano said. “Obviously the market made this offseason very difficult. We had three or four clubs (show interest). The way it played out with opportunity, and an opportunity to win, everything pointed at Oakland.”

The A’s aren’t confirming this yet, and there’s no indication of an announcement today. Where does this leave Bobby Crosby? Probably as the backup utility infielder. He’s making $5.25 million this season, so he’s too expensive to release, and there’s been no indication of substantial interest in him as a trade target.

What other news looms this week? The A’s reportedly are still in talks with Nomar Garciaparra. If signed, he’d likely serve as a backup corner infielder, providing a right-handed bat who could spell Eric Chavez at third, play some first base and occasionally DH.

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Foxsports: Nomar will either sign with A’s or retire

Nomar Garciaparra is reportedly narrowed his decision down to either signing with the Oakland A’s or opting for retirement.
Garciaparra, a career .313 hitter who batted .264 in 55 games with the Dodgers last year, was being pursued by both the A’s and Phillies. Foxsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, citing multiple sources, reported that Philadelphia is “fairly certain” to be out of the running for the 35-year-old Garciaparra.
Rosenthal also has updates on the A’s pursuit of shortstop Orlando Cabrera and left-handed reliever Denys Reyes.
Here’s a link to Rosenthal’s report.