6

Gabe Gross quotes, other leftovers from busy A’s Monday

***I heard back from Gabe Gross tonight (after turning my story in) and just thought I’d share with you some highlights of the conversation. Safe to say he’s pretty psyched about his situation w/the A’s:

–He compared the A’s potential to that of his 2008 Rays team, a 94-win squad that made the World Series that season and went worst-to-first in the AL East. “I’ve been a part of one of the biggest upset stories in (baseball) history, it seems, with the 2008 Rays. There seems no reason that a team with as much talent on it (as the A’s), especially from a starting pitching standpoint, can’t do the same thing.”

–A’s GM Billy Beane said the team has pursued Gross in the past. Maybe that’s why Gross felt he eventually would be wearing green and gold someday: “I felt for one reason or another I’d wind up in Oakland one day. I’m glad to be there now. I feel like, the way I play the game, and the things I do well, are things they appreciate and look for in players. It seems my game fits well with their idea of the way the game is played.”

–Gross says he’s comfortable in all three outfield spots but that he’s probably most at home in center field, where he’s played the least. “It’s probably the easiest spot to play as far as angles and routes. When the ball is hit to one side, it stays to that side.”

***I was talking to Beane today about his outfield situation, which could be set with Rajai Davis, Coco Crisp and Ryan Sweeney starting, Gabe Gross as a backup, and Jack Cust as a possible fifth outfielder when he’s not DH. Beane also threw Eric Patterson’s name into the mix as someone with a great shot of making the Opening Day roster. “He played well last year, he’s got versatility, he can back up at second. Given his performance, he certainly deserves that opportunity.” Noticeably absent from the discussion was Travis Buck, who is stewing over his status w/the team. Not that Buck’s low spot on the totem pole is a revelation. That’s been obvious for some time now.

****In a bit of housekeeping news, the A’s have re-signed right-hander Dan Giese to a minor league deal. Giese is recovering from Tommy John surgery on his elbow, which was performed in June. He was expected then to be out 12-18 months. …

That’s all for now … 19 days until pitchers and catchers report.

0

One more from the road; A’s-Mariners lineups

It’s a slow news day as the A’s prepare for their final road game of 2009. Seattle has not been kind to them, as they’ve gone just 1-7 in the Mariners’ home park. Brett Anderson takes the hill for his final start of the season. He’s 11-10 with a 4.12 ERA — pretty solid rookie season no matter how you slice it.

It’s looking likely that outfielder Ryan Sweeney’s season is done. A’s manager Bob Geren maintains that he’d play Sweeney if his knees felt better, but I can’t believe the A’s would run him out there even if he improved physically. What’s the point? They have a chance to get a last look at guys like Travis Buck and Matt Carson. Buck starts in right tonight, but Geren said Carson would probably play Saturday and Sunday against the Angels, who throw lefties those days.

Tonight’s lineups:

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

Anderson LHP

M’s
Ichiro RF
Gutierrez CF
Lopez 1B
Sweeney DH
Beltre 3B
Hall LF
Tuiasosopo 2B
Moore C
Wilson SS

Fister RHP

1

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.

0

A’s-Rangers lineups; pondering Landon Powell’s future role

A little different look to the A’s lineup today, not surprising for a day game after a night game. Eric Patterson is at second base, Travis Buck is in left field and Landon Powell is catching, plans that manager Bob Geren had indicated last night.

Geren was asked if Powell might be a consideration for more DH/first base duty next season, based on how well he’s hit. Geren wasn’t specific, but said he would try to find Powell more at-bats somehow, depending on how the roster shapes up. That’s an interesting idea to ponder. With this year’s offense lacking in the power department, Powell’s presence could provide a little more pop. But that depends on A) How healthy he would remain with increased playing time; B) whether he could improve enough at first base to not be a defensive liability; C) whether the A’s re-sign Jack Cust and what other DH options they might have; and D) who else they might sign/trade for over the winter.

Anyway, here’s your lineups as the A’s prepare to head out on a six-game road trip:

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

Anderson LHP

Rangers
Kinsler 2B
Andrus SS
Murphy LF
Jones DH
Blalock 1B
Byrd CF
Davis 3B
Teagarden C
Gentry RF

Feldman RHP

0

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?

0

Travis Buck, Henry Rodriguez, John Meloan promoted; Chris Carter unlikely to get call

With Triple-A Sacramento having been knocked from the playoffs last night, the A’s promoted outfielder Travis Buck and relievers Henry Rodriguez and John Meloan.

This is Rodriguez’s major league debut. Meloan, 25, was claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh on Sept. 2, and Bob Geren said he’ll fill a middle relief role similar to what Jeff Gray is doing right now. He’s made seven career appearances in the majors, split between the Dodgers and Indians. “He’s a control guy, not a flame thrower, but good command,” Geren said of Meloan.

One player we probably won’t see in Oakland is first baseman Chris Carter. Geren said it’s “highly doubtful” Carter or anyone else will be added to the big league roster before season’s end. Carter enjoyed as fine an offensive season as anyone in the minors, but the A’s obviously want to keep evaluating Daric Barton at first base. So Carter probably wouldn’t have gotten regular at-bats. “He’s had a great season and he’s going to be forcing his way into the picture, just not at this moment,” Geren said.

Buck, who seemingly has slipped down the totem pole in the A’s outfield picture, said he was pleasantly surprised to get word of his call-up. With Rajai Davis and Ryan Sweeney playing so well, his innings might be limited. And when he does play, I’d expect it to be in left field to spell Scott Hairston.

Rodriguez is the most intriguing newcomer. You’ll remember he impressed in 2008 spring training with his 100 mph fastball, but his big-time strikeout totals in the minors have been countered by a high number of walks too. Rodriguez, 22, was hindered in spring training with his recovery from offseason hernia surgery, and his back also has bothered him. Geren said he’ll look for low-pressure situations to ease Rodriguez into.

It’s another right-handed dominated lineup for the A’s, with Davis again in the leadoff spot. Adam Kennedy gets another day off, but Geren said he’s inclined to keep Kennedy in the top spot when he plays. Ryan Sweeney’s knees are doing better, but Matt Carson gets another start in his place.

A’s
Davis CF
Ellis 2B
Suzuki C
Nomar DH
Hairston LF
Crosby 3B
Barton 1B
Carson RF
Pennington SS

Gio Gonzalez LHP

Indians
Brantley CF
Carroll 2B
Cabrera SS
Choo RF
Peralta 3B
Hafner DH
LaPorta 1B
Shoppach C
Crowe LF

Sowers LHP

0

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

0

A’s pregame update: Edgar Gonzalez will start Tuesday, Tomko goes Wednesday

All’s quiet this morning on the A’s front … Sunday mornings are odd because there’s usually no regular BP on the field. The pitchers stretch at their own separate time, and players pop in and out of the batting cage at their leisure. Mostly, players were just sitting around watching the Yankees-White Sox on TV. Probably not real different from how you spent your Sunday morning …

A little news to share w/you …

–Edgar Gonzalez is starting Tuesday unless something unexpected happens. Brett Tomko is slated for Wednesday, which bumps him ahead of Trevor Cahill in the rotation to give Cahill a little extra rest. Manager Bob Geren had mentioned yesterday that Tomko could stay on regular days’ rest in the six-man rotation to give the younger guys a longer break. The A’s will especially monitor the innings of Cahill and Brett Anderson, today’s starter, since those two will surpass their innings from 2008 by such a large margin.

–Geren acknowledged it’s real doubtful Dallas Braden returns from his foot infection in time to rejoin the rotation. A little bullpen duty is still a possibility in Geren’s mind, but like I’ve mentioned here before, I would just shut Braden down and make sure he’s good for 2010. My guess is that will happen.

–Asked if there’s a definitive plan for call-ups on Tuesday when rosters expand, Geren said talks have centered “99 percent about pitching.” That means no Travis Buck, at least not right away. There is a chance they could promote a catcher, Geren said. Eric Munson would be the lead candidate …

–Bobby Crosby is expected to be activated from the DL on Wednesday without going on a rehab assignment. My guess is his playing time would likely come at third or second base, whenever Adam Kennedy or Mark Ellis might need a rest. You figure the A’s will keep running Daric Barton and Cliff Pennington out to first base and shortstop, respectively, to evaluate them as much as possible …

Today’s lineups, featuring Ryan Sweeney batting third. Kurt Suzuki and Scott Hairston both have the day off, and Geren likes the way Sweeney is swinging, so he gets bumped to the middle of the order …

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

Anderson LHP

Angels
Figgins 3B
Aybar SS
Hunter CF
Vlad DH
Rivera LF
Morales 1B
Kendrick 2B
Matthews Jr. RF
Mathis C

Lackey RHP

0

Buck optioned to Triple-A; Eveland joins team

There’s no shortage of news here at Fenway, where Nomar Garciaparra held a news conference in front of 50-60 reporters and broadcasters, new A’s outfielder Scott Hairston is due to arrive anytime, and lefty Dana Eveland joined the club in place of Dallas Braden, who was placed on the bereavement list. We also just heard that Travis Buck was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento to clear a roster spot for Hairston.

Let’s recap the A’s news. I’ll try to throw some Nomar nuggets into a separate post.

–Hairston is not in tonight’s starting lineup, but he’ll be on the active roster and available if needed. It depends on how quickly he gets here. His flight was due to land in Boston at about 5:30 local time, 90 minutes before first pitch. Geren held his media chat before we got word of Buck’s demotion. But he didn’t offer much when asked about what the Hairston trade says about Buck’s status in the big picture. “He’s still very young. He’s a player that has a bright future.” Asked whether it’s been Buck’s injuries or flat-out ineffectiveness that’s held him back in the organization’s eyes, Geren offered: “Everything blends together. It’s a hard game to play, period. When he’s out of the lineup, it’s due to one factor or another.”

Geren confirmed that Hairston will take over starting center field duties, with Ryan Sweeney seeing lots of time in right field and Jack Cust sliding into the DH role more often. He said he envisions Hairston hitting somewhere in the 3-5 range in the order. “I like what the guys are doing at the top,” Geren said, referring to Adam Kennedy and ORlando Cabrera.

The A’s outfield defense will definitely be stronger when Matt Holliday, Hairston and Sweeney are playing left to right, with Cust at DH. “(Hairston) definitely improves our team offensively, defensively and on the bases. He’s also a very good base runner,” Geren said.

–I believe I hear the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love?” being played on the Fenway organ right now … just had to share.

–Braden flew back to the Bay Area for what Geren called a family matter, but didn’t offer more information. Players can stay on the bereavement list a maximum of seven days. Eveland, 7-1 with a 3.49 ERA in 12 starts w/Triple-A Sacramento since being optioned May 5, could start tomorrow in Braden’s place. But Geren said Edgar Gonzalez also was an option if Gonzalez isn’t needed tonight in relief. If Eveland goes, he’d be pitching on three days’ rest, as he pitched for the River Cats on Friday. Geren said he’d have to check w/Eveland to see if his arm was good to go on three days’ rest, which is odd because Geren also mentioned Eveland could be used tonight (on two days’ rest) if needed out of the bullpen in a pinch …

Tonight’s lineups …

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

Anderson LHP

Red Sox
Ellsbury CF
Lugo SS
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Bay LF
Varitek C
Baldelli RF
Green 2B
Bates 1B

Smoltz RHP

0

Ellis back at second base for A’s; Buck gets start

We’ll keep this one brief. Mark Ellis returns to the A’s lineup at second base, with Adam Kennedy moving back to third base. Travis Buck gets a start in right field w/right-hander Carl Pavano on the mound for Cleveland. No Nomar Garciaparra tonight. The A’s are still being cautious w/him in the field, and Bob Geren said Garciaparra wouldn’t play in the field tomorrow either. I’m thinking he’ll DH tomorrow as the A’s face a tough lefty in Cliff Lee.

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

Mazzaro RHP

Indians
A. Cabrera SS
Sizemore CF
Martinez C
Choo RF
Hafner DH
Peralta 3B
Garko 1B
Valbuena 2B
Francisco LF

Pavano RHP