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Giambi dropped to seventh; Braden starting Saturday

The Rays may be the defending AL champs and playing good baseball right now, but they’re still not a huge draw here in St. Petersburg. Word is they’ve been drawing poorly on Friday nights, which is why they’re starting Friday games at 7:40 local time, about a half-hour later than the norm. Hmmm … if I was on the fence about going to a Friday night game, I’m not sure a later start would swing me toward grabbing tickets. They also do Saturday night postgame concerts on occasion. Tomorrow night I’ll be serenaded by Smashmouth while I’m working away on my stories after the game. Not so sure that’s going to pack ‘em in either …

–Jason Giambi was dropped to seventh in tonight’s A’s batting order, the lowest he’s hit all season. This probably had to happen at some point, but if Giambi starts hitting again, I don’t think he’d stay down there long. Jack Cust is hitting fifth tonight after hitting mainly sixth or seventh lately. “Cust has been swinging the bat a little better the last couple of months,” Bob Geren said. Kurt Suzuki, who has been swinging it pretty well, was dropped from fifth to sixth. That breaks up what would have been a string of four straight right-handed hitters. Geren really doesn’t have anything to lose by shaking things around, with the way this offense has been …

–Dallas Braden is expected back with the team in time to start tomorrow night’s game. Apparently, Braden threw a side session while he was in Stockton visiting his grandmother, who’s recovering from a stroke. Geren said there won’t be any limits on Braden as far as pitch count. This means Brett Anderson takes the ball Sunday, with Gio Gonzalez pitching out of the bullpen this weekend. Anderson will be on five days’ rest, so we’ll see if he keeps dealing like has in his past two starts w/extra rest.

–Reliever Joey Devine made the trip from his home in Atlanta to spend the weekend with his teammates. He said all has gone well as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, and he’s optimistic about being ready for spring training. The guy is one of the most pleasant, optimistic people you’ll meet, and major elbow surgery has done nothing to change that …

Tonight’s lineups

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

Mazzaro RHP

Rays
Upton CF
Crawford LF
Longoria 3B
Pena 1B
Zobrist 2B
Burrell DH
Gross RF
Bartlett SS
Navarro C

Niemann RHP