A’s release backup catcher Bowen

The A’s just announced that backup catcher Rob Bowen has been released, which means Landon Powell is likely to take over as Kurt Suzuki’s backup. The wheels had been in motion on this move for much of the spring, as Powell was getting lots of playing time and playing well offensively and defensively. GM Billy Beane stopped short of saying Powell was assured of a roster spot as the No. 2 backstop, but said the team has been very impressed with Powell this spring. “I think we felt that some of our other options have come quite a ways,” Beane said. “Kurt’s the incumbent. We’ve got some pretty good choices (for a backup) with Landon being the leading candidate.”

Bowen, one of the most outgoing and classiest guys in the clubhouse since he came over from the Cubs in the Jason Kendall trade of 2007, said he wasn’t shocked by the move. He added he appreciated the A’s making the call now and allowing him time to hook on w/another team.


He’s catching on

After the A’s second day of workouts wrapped up, manager Bob Geren went out of his way to praise catching prospect Josh Donaldson, who was acquired from the Cubs as part of last July’s Rich Harden trade. Donaldson, 23, is a long-range prospect (he didn’t start catching until his junior year at Auburn). But the A’s like his bat as well as his physical tools behind the plate. “I had some (discussion) with him about how many games he’s caught in his life,” Geren said. “He thought maybe 160. I told him that’s (close to) how many Kurt Suzuki caught last year. With the minimal exposure he has now, I think he can improve rapidly.” A former big league catcher himself, Geren said the biggest thing for a player who’s relatively new to catching is to master the fundamentals of the position. From there, learning how to handle pitchers and call a game comes with experience.

The backup catcher situation might merit paying attention to. The A’s re-signed Rob Bowen as the No. 2 man behind Suzuki, but the team also has Landon Powell in camp. A first-round pick in 2004, Powell’s career has been sidetracked by a knee injury, but he appears to be 100 percent now. Bowen has an edge in experience (his at-bats are few and far between because Suzuki logs so many innings as the starter). But Powell still has lots of upside and could force the A’s to make a decision if he has a big spring. And, of course, Donaldson figures to get his chance down the road …

Other Sunday bits:

–Ace Justin Duchscherer threw his first bullpen session, and he’s shown no lingering effects from right hip surgery last September.

— Geren, on whether third baseman Eric Chavez would be ready for the exhibition opener Feb. 25: “I have no reason now to say he wouldn’t be, but I want to see him in daily workouts first.”

–Trevor Cahill, the club’s other blue-chip pitching prospect along with Brett Anderson and Vin Mazzaro, threw Sunday. Catcher Anthony Recker, who was behind the plate for many of Cahill’s games last season in Double-A, also caught him Sunday, and said his fastball, curve and slider seemed sharp. “But I tell you what, I was really impressed with his change-up,” Recker said.

–In his morning chat w/reporters, Geren said competition should be fierce for what figures to be one or two available spots in the bullpen. Non-roster pitcher Jerome Williams doesn’t seem to be a candidate, as Geren said Williams is being considered primarily as a starter. Along those lines, it’s assumed that lefties Gio Gonzalez and Josh Outman will be considered for the ‘pen if they don’t open the season in the rotation. But judging from Geren’s comments over the offseason, I’m gathering that Outman is seen as being better suited for relief if it comes to that. This is speculation on my part, but I see Gonzalez beginning the season in the Triple-A rotation if he doesn’t crack Oakland’s starting five. …

That’s all for now …