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Buck returns to Oakland; Outman having surgery tomorrow

The A’s just announced that outfielder Travis Buck has been recalled from Triple-A Sacramento and third baseman Jack Hannahan will be optioned out.  We’ve been told Buck won’t arrive at the Coliseum until after the game starts. With Adam Kennedy now getting time at third and Bobby Crosby still available to play the corner spots, Hannahan’s chances were going to be limited . Buck was hitting .350 for Sacramento as of today, and he gives the A’s a better defensive option in right than Jack Cust, who can also DH (Cust is still in tonight’s lineup in right, as of my writing this). Or perhaps the A’s will give Cust a day off here or there. The guy has played a ton of innings, and it looks like he could benefit from a break. He’s hitting seventh today for the second time in three games.

More news of the day: Left-hander Josh Outman is having surgery on his elbow tomorrow, to be performed by Dr. James Andrews. But still no official word on whether it will be Tommy John (ligament replacement) surgery or something else. Details of the surgery, and Outman’s timetable for recovery, should come after the procedure. But all signs are that Outman won’t be back until sometime during the 2010 season. “He had a great season for us. He’s a fine young pitcher,” Geren said. “Obviously it’s a setback. Obviously a second (opinion) was deemed necessary to (decide on having) surgery.” As for Outman’s replacement in the rotation, Geren still isn’t committing to Gio Gonzalez beyond tomorrow’s start.

Geren continues to shuffle around his batting order looking for a combination that produces some results. Orlando Cabrera is back up in the second spot in the order after Kennedy. Switch-hitting Landon Powell gets a start at DH in order to get as many left-handed bats in against right-hander Rick Porcello as possible. …

The lineups

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

Anderson LHP

Tigers
Granderson CF
Polanco 2B
Cabrera 1B
Thames DH
Raburn LF
Inge 3B
Ordonez RF
Laird C
Everett SS

Porcello RHP

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A’s minor league recap: Weeks hits grand slam as Ports end losing streak

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm Thursday for the A’s affiliates:

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

RiverCats 3, Tacoma (Mariners) 2: Story l Boxscore

Dana Eveland is now 4-0 for the RiverCats as the lefty went six innings and allowed just one earned run. Eveland gave up three hits, three walks and struck out five.

Ryan Webb (fourth round, ‘04) got his first save.

Gregorio Petit had a two-run home run, his third homer of the season.

Travis Buck went 1-for-3 and is hitting .364 through four games while on rehab assignment.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

Corpus Christi 4 (Astros), RockHounds 3: Story l Boxscore

First baseman Chris Carter blasted his ninth homer of the season and second baseman
Alex Valdez also homered, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a RockHounds loss.

Jared Lansford gave up two runs in the eighth and was tagged with the loss. Corpus Christi catcher Jason Castro, the ex-Castro Valley High and Stanford star, scored the game-winning run.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Ports 5, Visalia (Diamondbacks) 4: Story l Boxscore

Jemile Weeks hit his first professional grand slam and Tyson Ross picked up his first pro win as the Ports ended their eight-game losing streak.

Weeks, whose grand slam highlighted a five-run third inning, now has four homers and 14 RBI in 14 games. He has a .464 on-base percentage and his OPS sits at 1.067.

Ross, who lasted five innings and allowed three runs, wound up tying his career-high with seven strikeouts.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Cougars 2, Wisconsin (Brewers) 1: Story l Boxscore

Pedro Figueroa continued his solid pitching as he improved to 6-2 by throwing six strong innings. He allowed just one unearned run and has permitted just two earned runs in his last 24 innings, covering four starts.

Closer Mickey Storey notched his seventh save and lowered his ERA to 0.63. The 23-year-old righty has allowed just five hits in 14 1/3 innings and has 19 strikeouts.

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A’s minor league recap: Cardenas moved to third; Weeks stays hot

Here’s a brief look at what happened down on the farm Thursday for the A’s affiliates:

SACRAMENTO (Triple-A)

Tacoma (Mariners) 6, RiverCats 4: Story l Boxscore

Relievers Henry Rodriguez and Jay Marshall gave up five runs in the final two innings as the RiverCats failed to protect a 4-1 lead. Rodriguez walked two batters and surrendered a game-tying, three-run homer to Brad Nelson. Marshall permitted the go-ahead runs in the ninth inning.

James Simmons was in line for the win after working five innings and allowing just four hits and one run. Jerry Blevins then added two scoreless innings with four strikeouts before Sacramento’s troubles began.

Travis Buck homered and drove in two runs as his rehab seems to be going well. Danny Putnam had a two-run homer, his third in 111 at-bats for the Cats.

MIDLAND (Double-A)

Corpus Christi 5, RockHounds 1: Story l Boxscore

Adrian Cardenas, who has played mostly at second base and some at shortstop this season, has spent the last two games at third base for the RockHounds, who suffered their second straight setback. Cardenas, who booted an eighth-inning grounder Thursday night, would seem to have a much clearer path to Oakland as a third baseman. Especially with Jemile Weeks playing second base at Stockton and seemingly Oakland-bound within a couple of years. The A’s obviously figure on finding room in their lineup one day soon for both Cardenas and Weeks.

Tommy Everidge had played third for Midland for most of the year, but he was promoted to Sacramento. Alex Valdez, who arrived from Stockton, is also a third baseman.

Bobby Cramer struck out seven in 4 2/3 innings, but took the loss after allowing two runs. Matt Spencer and Archie Gilbert had two of the Hounds’ five hits, and Cardenas had the other.

Jose Valverde, the Astros’ closer who’s on a rehab assignment, pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning for Corpus Christi.

STOCKTON (High Single-A)

Modesto (Rockies) 8, Ports 2: Story l Boxscore

The Ports lost their eighth in a row as they were swept in Modesto. On the bright side, Jemile Weeks continued his torrid pace, going 3-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.

Weeks, who has hit in every game since joining Stockton from extended spring training on May 27, is now batting .370.

Christian Vitters had a pair of hits and scored twice for the Ports.

KANE COUNTY (Low Single-A)

Wisconsin 7, Cougars 3: Story l Boxscore

The Cougars scored three times in the first on a two-run single by Steve Kleen and an RBI double by Grant Desme, but Wisconsin countered with four runs in the bottom of the first off Shawn Haviland on its way to victory.

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Buck placed on DL

It figured that roster moves were coming down today. The A’s placed Travis Buck on the 15-day DL with a strained left oblique muscle and optioned reliever Jeff Gray to the minors. Infielder Gregorio Petit and outfielder Aaron Cunningham were recalled from Triple-A Sacramento.

Jack Cust? It looks like he’ll avoid the DL, although he’s not in the lineup today. He says his back spasms have calmed down, but that one more day of rest might have him 100 percent by tomorrow. “I probably shouldn’t have played yesterday,” said Cust, who only lasted one at-bat before having to be replaced.

How bad is this injury situation? There wasn’t even a lineup posted in the A’s clubhouse by the time players hit the field to stretch. And during his media chat, Bob Geren had difficulty remembering the lineup he finally settled on, because he scribbled out so many drafts based on who might/might not be available.

I didn’t catch Buck before BP to discuss his injury. He had said he thought he’d be available today. … Cunningham and Petit each return for their second stint w/the big club, and Cunningham is starting in right field tonight. Petit played some third base in his latest stint w/Sacramento, and I’d expect he’d get some time there w/the A’s. He provided a nice spark earlier this season (he had that game-winning RBI in Seattle, when Bobby Crosby plowed over the catcher). I could see him playing third against left-handed pitchers, particularly when Crosby plays first and Jason Giambi is DH …

The A’s are back to 12 pitchers (seven relievers) and 13 position players. That gives Geren four position players off the bench, although Cust probably isn’t much of an option tonight …

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s — Cabrera SS; Kennedy 2B; Holliday LF; Giambi DH; Suzuki C; Sweeney CF; Cunningham RF; Hannahan 3B; Crosby 1B; Anderson P.

Rangers – Kinsler 2B; Young 3B; Hamilton DH; Jones LF; Cruz RF; Blalock 1B; Byrd CF; Saltalamacchia C; Andrus SS; McCarthy P.

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Cust leaves after one at-bat

Bobby Crosby replaced Jack Cust at DH in the top of the third, as Cust’s back spasms started acting up. I asked him how his back was feeling a couple hours before the game (he had just gotten out of the batting cage), and he didn’t sound real sure he’d make it through the whole game. This lineup — already minus Eric Chavez, Nomar Garciaparra and Mark Ellis — can ill-afford to lose Cust, to state the obvious.

It’s a 2-2 tie after three innings. Travis Buck mashed a 423-foot two-run homer in the second inning to tie the game. An absolute laser to right …

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A’s-Rangers: Let’s play two

Just checking in before the first game of today’s A’s doubleheader in Arlington. Not a whole lot to report from the pre-game scene. Bob Geren said Jack Cust (lower back spasms) and Travis Buck (oblique strain) were questionable, but both are in the lineup for first pitch. Buck apparently hurt his oblique before Wednesday’s game.

Things to watch tonight:
–Edgar Gonzalez’s performance in the nightcap. A solid outing probably solidifies him in the rotation for the time being. If he struggles, that could impact how soon we see a high-profile prospect such as Vin Mazzaro get promoted. Regardless of how Gonzalez does tonight, the A’s need to call up a starter for Tuesday’s game at Chicago, as they play five games over this four-day stretch through Monday.

–Adam Kennedy is batting second and Kurt Suzuki sixth in the current lineup for the first game, not surprising because Geren said he might do this against right-handed starters. Texas has two righties going tonight in Tommy Hunter and Scott Feldman.

First game lineups –
A’s:
Cabrera SS; Kennedy 2B; Cust DH; Holliday LF; Giambi 1B; Suzuki C; Sweeney CF; Buck RF; Hannahan 3B; Outman P.

Rangers:
Kinsler 2B; Young 3B; Hamilton CF; Jones DH; Cruz RF; Byrd LF; Davis 1B ; Saltalamacchia C; Andrus SS; Hunter P.

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A mix-and-match Sunday

The A’s are trotting out a funky looking lineup today as they try to avoid the sweep in Detroit. Catcher Kurt Suzuki is getting a day off, and Jason Giambi gets a turn at DH. So Adam Kennedy is hitting second, Jack Cust moves from DH to right field, Bobby Crosby moves across the diamond to first base and Jack Hannahan starts at third. That’s six left-handed hitters in the lineup against right-hander Armando Galarraga (counting switch-hitter Landon Powell, who’s catching).

 Travis Buck, despite an RBI single last night, gets bumped from the lineup. But we also learned this morning that he’s nursing a sore left shoulder. Buck is still diving with abandon after balls in the outfield, and he thinks he aggravated the shoulder with a dive early in the season. Buck has talked before about the need to be smarter about hurling his body everywhere, and I can think of at least a couple of occasions this season when he’s dove for a ball he had no chance of catching. Not only does that put him at injury risk, it lets a runner take an extra base as the ball gets past him. Anyway, Buck has been told that his left shoulder is somewhat weak structurally. So he’s felt a little discomfort even just reaching across his body to make a catch. ”I would say I’ve got to play knowing it’s not going to be 100 percent,” Buck said. “I’ve got to find a way to strengthen it during the season.”

I asked Bob Geren about Orlando Cabrera’s play last night, when he reached down and slapped the ball on the roll to Adam Kennedy for a force-out at second. You might have caught it on ESPN’s “Web Gems”. Geren thinks Cabrera, a native Colombian, has probably made that play before. “In a lot of Latin American countries, they play a game called ‘Flip’ before batting practice,” Geren said. “It’s kind of a fun game. You hit the ball around with your glove. When I saw (Cabrera’s play), it didn’t surprise me one bit. He’s probably played that game a lot. The great thing was Adam Kennedy was ready for it.”

It looks like the earliest Nomar Garciaparra will return would be Wednesday, Geren said. Garciaparra’s right calf was sore after yesterday’s workout, so he’s taking today off. Tampa Bay starts lefty Scott Kazmir on Wednesday, so Geren would like to have Garciaparra’s right-handed bat in there. I didn’t get a chance to grab Garciaparra before the game.

A’s lineup: Cabrera SS; Kennedy 2B; Cust RF; Holliday LF; Giambi DH; Sweeney CF; Crosby 1B; Powell C; Hannahan 3B; Cahill P.

Tigers lineup: Granderson CF; Anderson LF; Thomas RF; Cabrera 1B; Ordonez DH; Larish 3B; Laird C; Santiago 2B; Everett SS; Galarraga P.

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A’s in rain delay in Detroit

(From Joe Stiglich):

Sorry for the delay in posting today, folks. Big-time computer/Internet issues. We’re in a rain delay at the moment at Comerica Park. It’s rained some, but not heavily. I believe the delay is more in anticipation of a heavy storm that may or may not hit Detroit. They just announced that we’re going to start at 8:05 p.m. local time here …

Outfielder Aaron Cunningham was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento and reliever Santiago Casilla was activated from the DL. Relievers Jerry Blevins and Jeff Gray were optioned to make room for them.

Cunningham is starting in right field tonight ahead of Travis Buck. The left-handed hitting Buck is hitting just .200 in 20 games but his playing time has been pretty spotty. He would typically play tonight with righty Edwin Jackson starting for Detroit, but the right-handed hitting Cunningham gets the call.

In other news, Dallas Braden says his hand feels good enough to start tomorrow. Trevor Cahill goes Sunday. Bob Geren hasn’t announced starters for Monday and Tuesday, but he said its likely to be Josh Outman and Sean Gallagher or vice versa.

A’s lineup: Cabrera SS, Suzuki C, Giambi 1B, Holliday LF, Cust DH, Sweeney CF, Kennedy 2B, Crosby 3B, Cunningham RF, Anderson P.

Tigers lineup: Granderson CF, Polanco 2B, Thomas RF, Cabrera 1B, Ordonez DH, Inge 3B, Raburn LF, Laird C, Everett SS, Jackson P.

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A’s 5, Rays 2

Pretty complete effort today from the A’s, who snapped a five-game losing streak by beating Tampa Bay. A few postgame tidbits:

–Dallas Braden tweaked his groin in the fifth inning, though he and the A’s are both hopeful it’s minor. You might have noticed he lost his command a bit in the fifth and sixth innings before he was pulled. He’s looked very sharp since the season began, and the A’s have to hope he doesn’t miss any time. Remember, Braden was sidelined the final few weeks of 2008 with a groin injury too.

–I was a little surprised to see Bob Geren pull Russ Springer for Brad Ziegler with two runners on and two outs in the eighth. The A’s were up 5-1 at the time, and the situation didn’t seem urgent enough, in my opinion, to call on the closer. Springer has been pretty clutch this season. Ziegler gave up a run-scoring single that inning, but slammed the door in the ninth for his fourth save.

–You know that waggle in his bat that makes Travis Buck’s stance pretty unique? Buck is trying to tone it down some. He said he’s been studying film of his 2007 rookie season, and noticed that he had less movement in his hands before his swing, and that he hit better as a result. “It’s definitely helped out to work in the cage,” Buck said. “Once I focus on making (the movement) smaller, I see the ball a lot longer and see some good swings.”

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Tuesday’s pregame A’s update

As the A’s take batting practice before game 2 against the Red Sox, the wind is howling like nothing I’ve seen at the Coliseum over the past two years. It’s blowing straight in from right field at the moment, so it will take an absolute bomb to hit a homer to right.

“You’re gonna need a 2-iron,” Jason Giambi said as he stepped out of the cage. Of course, the wind could start swirling a different direction by first pitch.

Tonight’s A’s lineup:

Sweeney CF; Cabrera SS; Giambi 1B; Holliday LF; Cust DH; Garciaparra 3B; Suzuki C; Buck RF; Ellis 2B; Eveland P

For the Red Sox:

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

–No Eric Chavez again tonight. He visited the doctor today for an MRI on his right shoulder, and Bob Geren is looking at Friday as a hopeful return date for Chavez, following Thursday’s offday. I won’t even try to speculate whether this is a short-term concern for the A’s, or if he could be out longer. There’s just no telling …

–Travis Buck is back in the lineup after sitting for two days. He’s 1-for-11 on the season. This is typical stuff for Buck, who said he’s gotten off to slow starts since his junior season at Arizona State. But obviously he needs to start hitting to keep getting regular playing time.

–Reliever Joey Devine will undergo a bone scan and CT scan on his right elbow tomorrow.

That’s all for now …