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A’s add Chris Carter to 40-man roster — where does he fit best?

As you all know, the battle at first base will be one of the more interesting storylines for the A’s come spring training. Clearly, they need more pop at the plate from whoever’s playing first. The A’s have a logjam of youngsters at the position, but things would be less crowded if stud hitting prospect Chris Carter could play the outfield adequately. Check out this interview at Minor League Ball, where GM Billy Beane addresses that very topic. He says the ideal scenario would have Carter playing the outfield once he’s brought up to the majors. A couple different A’s officials have told me for some time now that Carter has the tools to be a decent left fielder.   And honestly, would he have to be that great? The A’s have shown they’re willing to use a defensive question mark in the outfield if it means getting a needed bat in the lineup.

Carter, by the way, was added to the A’s 40-man roster Friday, along with pitchers Fautino De Los Santos, Pedro Figueroa and Justin Souza.

But here’s a couple issues to consider: How soon will Carter be ready for the majors? Will one of the other first base candidates – Daric Barton, Sean Doolittle, Tommy Everidge, etc. – hit well enough to allow Carter to play somewhere else? Doolittle missed most of the 2009 season recovering from a tear in his left patella tendon, which he tried to rehab without surgery. He encountered road blocks in his recovery, and scout.com reported that Doolittle recently underwent knee surgery to fix the tear. It’s unknown whether he’ll be ready for the start of spring training.

Let’s remember that Scott Hairston’s status also will affect Carter, if Carter is indeed considered for left field. I honestly don’t have a read on how the A’s feel about Hairston at this point. They gave up three pitchers to get him from San Diego in July, and used him as the regular left fielder when he was healthy. Now Hairston is arbitration-eligible. I see the A’s tendering him a contract, but he got a rather lukewarm endorsement from Beane at the end of the season.

How do you see Carter fitting into the A’s puzzle???

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Sweeney sidelined with knee trouble; Buck draws start

Another A’s outfielder is ailing as the season winds down. Right fielder Ryan Sweeney’s knees are bothering him, particularly his left one. He’s not in the lineup tonight, and manager Bob Geren said he’d know tomorrow whether Sweeney will miss the final four games. Sweeney joins Scott Hairston on the injured list (Hairston has been shut down with quad, hip and back injuries). Sweeney’s knees have been an issue for much of the season, but aside from one DL stint in June, he’s played through the pain. His absence means playing time for Travis Buck, who draws just his second start since being recalled Sept. 19.

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s: Kennedy 3B; Davis CF; Suzuki C; Cust DH; Barton 1B; Ellis 2B; Patterson LF; Buck RF;Pennington SS; Mortensen RHP.

M’s: Ichiro RF; Gutierrez CF; Lopez 2B; Griffey Jr. DH; Beltre 3B; Johjima C; Hannahan 1B; Wilson SS; Saunders LF; Morrow RHP.

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Chavez, Tomko pay visits; other A’s tidbits

The A’s were just in Anaheim four weeks ago, and it feels nearly as hot now as it was then. But once the sun goes down, there’s not a better place to watch night baseball than Angel Stadium …

Lots of visitors in the A’s dugout before today’s game, including Eric Chavez and Brett Tomko. I guess I shouldn’t call them visitors really. Point is, they haven’t been around in a while. Chavez has been rehabbing his back in San Diego and made the trip up. He said his recovery from surgery continues to go well, and he’s hoping to begin baseball activity in December.

Tomko, who was shut down for the season last week, said doctors told him he basically “pulled a nerve” that runs through his right bicep. That’s what’s causing the numbness he still feels at times. He’s talked to Giants pitcher Brad Penny about the problem, because Penny had the same injury a few seasons ago. Rest is the only real remedy, and Tomko said he should be 100 percent by the time spring training rolls around. Will he be wearing an A’s uniform then? Who knows … But Tomko thinks he pitched well enough before his injury to open eyes around the majors, and he’s said previously he wouldn’t mind returning to Oakland.

Former A’s catcher Adam Melhuse, who retired earlier this season, also was in the dugout. He lives in San Luis Obispo, and Chavez talked him into paying a visit.

–Scott Hairston’s quad/back/hip injuries aren’t showing much improvement, and manager Bob Geren listed him as doubtful for the Angels series. So Eric Patterson’s back in left, where he’s made a nice impression over the past three games …

Tonight’s lineups
A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Barton 1B
Ellis 2B
Patterson LF
Pennington SS

Gio Gonzalez LHP

Angels
Figgins 3B
Aybar SS
Abreu RF
Guerrero DH
Hunter CF
Rivera LF
Morales 1B
Kendrick 2B
Mathis C

Weaver RHP

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A’s-Rangers pregame update

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s: Kennedy 3B; Davis CF; Sweeney RF; Suzuki C; Cust DH; Ellis 2B; Barton 1B; Pennington SS; Patterson LF; Mortensen RHP.

Rangers: Borbon DH; Andrus SS; Murphy LF; Byrd CF; Blalock 1B; Cruz RF; Davis 3B; Rodriguez C; Vizquel 2B; Hunter RHP.

As you can see, Scott Hairston is out of the lineup again, but A’s manager Bob Geren is hopeful he can return before season’s end. … Nothing substantially newsworthy to report pre-game, unless you count Travis Buck shaving his head as big news. He usually waits until after the season to do so, but went ahead and did it now. “Maybe I’m trying to go incognito,” he said.

Geren praised Daric Barton again today before batting practice. Curious how all of you are feeling about Barton right now. Part of the reason Chris Carter wasn’t brought up was so the A’s could continue evaluating Barton at first. Do you think he’s turning the corner as a big league hitter?

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Daric Barton returns, Scott Hairston absent from A’s lineup

The A’s welcome back one regular to the lineup (first baseman Daric Barton) but are without another (left fielder Scott Hairston). Hairston has been bitten by the injury bug for most of his time with the A’s. His left hip began bothering him last night and forced him to leave the game. But he also has pain in his back and left quad (which has been a problem for a while now), and Hairston wonders if they all could be related. A’s manager Bob Geren said he was hopeful Hairston could possibly return tomorrow, but that seems optimistic based on how Hairston feels right now. “I want to be out there, and my body is not letting me do it,” he said.

Barton has a bone spur in his left heel that acted up during Sunday’s game, so he sat yesterday. But he said he’s played with the bone spur for “a couple of years,” so obviously it’s nothing too serious.

Not much else going on leading up to tonight’s game, but the beat writers did present the Bill Rigney Good Guy Award today. Kurt Suzuki was this year’s winner. We give the award out annually to the player who’s most cooperative with the media, which is a tough call in the A’s clubhouse because there aren’t many bad seeds. Anyway, Suzuki had fun w/it. It would have been good to snap a photo of him walking through the clubhouse holding his Good Guy plaque over his head like it was a heavyweight championship belt.

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Ellis 2B
Barton 1B
Pennington SS
Patterson LF

Cahill RHP

Rangers
Borbon DH
Andrus SS
Murphy LF
Byrd CF
Blalock 1B
Kinsler 2B
Cruz RF
C. Davis 3B
Rodriguez C

McCarthy RHP

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Let the campaign begin: Geren pushes Andrew Bailey for Rookie of the Year

It’s that time of the season when end-of-the-year award discussions start coming into focus. And if you’re bummed about where the A’s sit in the AL West standings, take heart that closer Andrew Bailey is squarely in the AL Rookie of the Year talk. He got a boost today by being named the AL Rookie of the Month for August, when he had 11 scoreless outings and was perfect in seven save opportunities.

Think Bailey will be hurt by the A’s 59-74 record? The New York Times ran this story a couple of days ago that listed him as the AL favorite. You figure Bailey’s selection to the All-Star team will boost his profile in a lot of voters’ eyes. A’s manager Bob Geren gave his endorsement in today’s pregame media chat. “Hopefully the (Rookie of the Month award) will lead on to Rookie of the Year,” Geren said. “He’s had that kind of year … I see him more than anyone, so he’s got my vote.”

Actually, Geren doesn’t have a vote. Rookie of the Year (just like MVP, Cy Young and Manager of the Year) is voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. But you get his point.

As for Bailey’s competition, Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold will get serious consideration. White Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham and Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus are in the conversation. Their advantage is each had lots of hype before they even reached the majors, so they’ve been on the radar for some time now. But it’s hard to argue with Bailey’s credentials to this point, or his importance to his team. Right now, I’d have to give him my vote. Of course, like Geren, I’ve seen Bailey much more than anyone else.

I’ll open it up to readers: Do you think Bailey is the man for Rookie of the Year?

–Scott Hairston (left quad) is out of the lineup for a second straight day, w/Eric Patterson playing left for the A’s.

– Geren has set his rotation for the upcoming eight-game road trip that begins Tuesday. The A’s are off Monday and next Thursday, so that gives him some wiggle room to re-arrange guys.

At Chicago: Brett Tomko, Trevor Cahill

At Minnesota: Vin Mazzaro, Edgar Gonzalez, Tomko

At Texas: Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Cahill

Basically, he’s set it up where Tomko will pitch on regular four days’ rest; Cahill and Mazzaro will get six days’ rest, and Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez will get eight days rest between starts.

Tonight’s lineups in the opener of a four-game set w/Seattle:

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Cust DH
Suzuki C
Ellis 2B
Patterson LF
Barton 1B
Pennington SS

Tomko RHP

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

Snell RHP

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Crosby reinstated from DL; Patterson draws start in left field

Trevor Cahill takes the hill today as the A’s try to claim this three-game series against Kansas City. You have to like their chances based on how Cahill has pitched over his last four outings. If he is dialed in, it’ll be interesting to see how long Bob Geren sticks w/him. Out of all four of the rookies in the rotation, the A’s are most concerned with the innings Cahill and Brett Anderson are piling up. Cahill leads major league rookies with 153 1/3 IP.

No Scott Hairston in left field today after he aggravated his left quad last night. Geren thinks Hairston could return tomorrow or Friday, but Eric Patterson starts today, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Patterson in left for the next couple of days. If Hairston doesn’t show signs of improvement, Geren said the A’s would consider calling up another outfielder (figure Travis Buck or Aaron Cunningham as leading candidates in that scenario). But I wouldn’t say there’s a ton of concern over Hairston right now. As for today, Geren said he’d like to try getting the running game going, so if Patterson gets on base, look for him to be active …

–Bobby Crosby was reinstated from the DL as expected, and you can expect to see him at third base in this weekend’s Seattle series. Adam Kennedy can flat-out use a break right now, wouldn’t you say? He hasn’t had an extra-base hit in his past 16 games, and with the Mariners starting left-handers Friday and Saturday, Geren said he’ll start Crosby at third one of those days. Geren even mentioned giving Crosby a possible start at first base over the weekend.

–No shocker here, as Geren said he’ll stick w/Edgar Gonzalez in the rotation based on last night’s solid outing. But Gonzalez’s next turn would fall on Monday’s day off, so there’s a possibility he could be skipped …

Today’s lineups

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Cust DH
Powell C
Ellis 2B
Barton 1B
Pennington SS
Patterson LF

Cahill RHP

Royals
DeJesus LF
Bloomquist 2B
Callaspo 3B
Jacobs 1B
Pena C
Guillen DH
Maier RF
Betancourt SS
Anderson CF

Bannister RHP

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First base is Daric Barton’s — for now

Didn’t the A’s roster activity seem unusually quiet in recent days? That ended today, as first baseman Tommy Everidge was optioned to Triple-A and outfielder/second baseman Eric Patterson was recalled.

It’s a bit of a surprise considering indications were that Everidge and Daric Barton would split time as the A’s evaluated both first base prospects. But Bob Geren pointed out that Patterson provides a versatile option off the bench, especially w/left fielder Scott Hairston nursing a sore quad and center fielder Rajai Davis playing with a fractured thumb.

The big-picture impact is that the A’s want Barton to get the majority of at-bats at first. Asked if Barton is the primary guy at first base for the rest of the season, Geren responded, “Yeah.” He left the door open to Everidge returning when rosters expand, but it’s clear the A’s want to give Barton a hard look. … I wouldn’t read too much into this as far as the A’s plans for next season, because you figure Chris Carter, Sean Doolittle and possibly Brett Wallace will all be in the first base mix in spring training. But Barton gets his chance to leave a strong imprint heading into the offseason, much like Cliff Pennington at shortstop.

Patterson split his latest stint in Sacramento between center field, left field and second base. I see center being his best chance for playing time up here, as Davis could probably use a little rest for his thumb.

–Other newsie bits: Bobby Crosby said his calf feels good after running sprints yesterday. He’s taking today off from running but looks like he could be ready Wednesday, when he’s eligible to come off the DL. … Geren reiterated that Edgar Gonzalez is his preference to start Tuesday at Kansas City, which would set into motion a six-man rotation.

–I’ve mentioned this before about Brett Tomko, who starts tonight: It’s unusual to see a starter, on the day he’s pitching, hang out on the field w/the rest of the team when it comes out to stretch. Starting pitchers typically hole up in the clubhouse until they’re ready to start their pregame throwing. But Tomko seems to enjoy being w/the team. I’ll have to ask him about it …

The lineups:

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

Tomko RHP

Angels
Figgins 3B
Abreu RF
Hunter CF
Guerrero DH
Rivera LF
Morales 1B
Aybar SS
Kendrick 2B
Mathis C

Bell RHP

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A’s-Sox pregame update — Thursday

It was pouring when I got to Fenway Park about an hour ago, but the sun is out now and it’s looking like this game will start on time. … The Temptations were blasting in the A’s clubhouse this morning — not the usual pregame tunes. I’ll say this: Nomar Garciaparra has seen some Motown clips in his time, judging by the dance moves he was busting out.

No Scott Hairston in the lineup for the third straight day. He says his quad has been slow to recover, but he’s hopeful for tomorrow’s night game in Oakland. Eric Patterson sits today also, with Boston throwing lefty Jon Lester. Ryan Sweeney starts in left field for a change, with Rajai Davis in center and Jack Cust in right.

With the trade deadline just more than 24 hours away, shortstop Orlando Cabrera looked pretty loose this morning, joking around w/his teammates. Manager Bob Geren mentioned how veteran players don’t let trade rumors rattle them this time of year. I’d say Cabrera falls into that category …

The lineups
A’s
Kennedy 2B
Cabrera SS
Garciaparra DH
Cust RF
Everidge 1B
Crosby 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney LF
Powell C

Gonzalez LHP

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

Lester LHP

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Wednesday’s lineups, updates

All’s quiet on the A’s front as game time approaches. We may not get this one in without an interruption, as there’s a forecast of possible thunderstorms tonight. It’s very overcast and a little warm — feels like a storm is coming, for what that’s worth.

Scott Hairston (left quad) is out of the lineup for the second straight day, but Bob Geren said he could be used in an emergency. The hope is Hairston can play in tomorrow’s series-closing matinee.

The lineups:
A’s
Kennedy 3B
Cabrera SS
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Sweeney RF
Everidge 1B
Ellis 2B
Davis CF
Patterson LF

Anderson LHP

Sox
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Youkilis 3B
Bay LF
Lowell DH
Baldelli RF
LaRoche 1B
Varitek C
Lowrie SS

Penny RHP