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No Holliday for A’s tonight

Not a ton to report from tonight’s pre-game happenings at Angel Stadium. The major news: Matt Holliday is not playing because he’s sick. So Travis Buck is starting in left field and Jack Cust is back in right field. Jason Giambi is once again DH, with Nomar Garciaparra getting another start at first and batting cleanup in Holliday’s place.

Holliday was not at the ballpark as of about 5:45 tonight, but Geren was hopeful he might be able to play tomorrow after getting some rest.

–Thought I’d include both teams’ lineups tonight. For the A’s:

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

For the Angels: Figgins 3B; Kendrick 2B; Abreu RF; Guerrero DH; Hunter CF; Morales 1B; Rivera LF; Mathis C; Aybar SS; Moseley P

–I noticed the rosters have been posted for most of the A’s minor league teams, so check them out.

Click here for Triple-A Sacramento, here for Double-A Midland, here for high Single-A Stockton and here for low Single-A Kane County.

A couple of things that caught my eye: The starting infield you’re likely to see on any given night in Sacramento could have been an A’s starting infield last season (Daric Barton, Cliff Pennington, Gregorio Petit and Jack Hannahan among that bunch). Midland’s infield includes a couple of top-tier prospects in first baseman Chris Carter and middle infielder Adrian Cardenas. …

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Angels 3, A’s 0

I’m guessing that wasn’t what many of you expected from the A’s new and improved offense tonight, correct?. I wouldn’t read too much into things based on one game. But I was surprised at how few balls they hit hard off Joe Saunders.

Eric Chavez mentioned after the game how he thinks Opening Day gets blown out of proportion because it’s just one game. “It’s kind of a parade, hoopla-type thing. And that’s great for the fans, they get into it. But we know (the season) is a grind.”

All true, but remember, Chavez also told reporters Saturday it was important for the A’s to get out of the gate well, considering they play the Angels in the first four games.

As for Dallas Braden, he wasn’t terrible. But because he’s not overpowering, tonight showed how “on” he has to be with his control or he’ll get hurt. Bottom line, giving up three runs in six innings isn’t that bad.

Some of you may have been surprised that Travis Buck didn’t start considering the solid spring he had. Buck told me he felt fine physically before the game, though he was wearing a pretty big ice pack on his right leg after the game. I didn’t get to ask him about that, so don’t read too much into it yet.

That’s all for now, check back in before tomorrow’s game …

A couple things from tonight

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Garciaparra at 1B tonight for A’s

Just over an hour away from first pitch here at Angel Stadium. The sun is out, and it’s shaping up to be a perfect night for baseball. But they’re saying rain might hit tomorrow night …

There was a little wrinkle in the A’s starting lineup, with Nomar Garciaparra inserted at first base. That bumps Jason Giambi over to DH, Jack Cust is starting in right field and Travis Buck goes to the bench.

Buck told me before the game he was feeling fine, so this looks like Bob Geren just wanted to get the right-handed hitting Garciaparra in the lineup against lefty Joe Saunders. Throw in the fact that Garciaparra is in his 14th major league season and hit .455 in 13 games this spring, I can see why Geren wants him in there Opening Day.

“Nomar has had a great spring for us,” Geren said. “I’d like to get him in there as much as possible.” He added that Garciaparra will play against “most” lefties, so we’ll probably see him spell the left-handed hitting Eric Chavez at third quite a bit. Chavez has said he can’t play every day yet because of his shoulder anyway.

The down side with this lineup: It weakens the outfield defense w/Cust in right. And interestingly, Garciaparra has hit just .241 (39-for-162) at Angel Stadium, his lowest average at any ballpark where he’s had at least 60 at-bats.

The rest of the A’s lineup:

Sweeney CF
Cabrera SS
Giambi DH
Holliday LF
Garciaparra 1B
Chavez 3B
Suzuki C
Cust RF
Ellis 2B

Braden on the hill …

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A’s intrasquad recap

The A’s just wrapped up their intrasquad game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, a three-inning affair won by the “home” team 1-0. Not much juicy to report. It’s funny … as a writer you look forward to days like these just because they offer something different after nearly two solid weeks of practice. But there’s just not much to glean until exhibitions start.

Having said that …

Right-hander Edgar Gonzalez looked good. He went three innings and gave up three hits. In the second, he allowed Landon Powell’s single, then struck out Bobby Crosby looking, Joe Dillon swinging and Chris Carter looking. As he fights for the fifth starter spot, Gonzalez may have a small advantage this spring because he just got done pitching in winter ball about two weeks ago in Mexico. Bob Geren said he expects Gonzalez to be sharp.

“He threw the ball real well. I liked his location, his movement, the way he changed speeds on his breaking ball.”

Craig Weissmann, the A’s scout who watched Gonzalez in Mexico, is visiting camp right now and said Gonzalez has good command of all four of his pitches — fastball, curve, slider and changeup.

As for other highlights today, Travis Buck had two singles from the leadoff spot for the visiting team. … Gregorio Petit knocked in the game’s only run when his single to right off Andrew Bailey scored Joel Galarraga. … Ben Copeland, the outfielder from the Giants organization that the A’s took in the Rule 5 draft, showed a pretty strong arm from right field during pregame drills. Geren said Copeland get his share of at-bats so the A’s can evaluate whether they want to keep him or send him back to S.F. …

That’s all for now …

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Harden’s injury, and more …

OK readers, here’s your chance. Weekly excerpts of your comments will appear in the Sunday Times. The more you tell me what you think, the more the readers will get a chance to know what you think.

With that, let’s get to some thoughts on the A’s.

— Had an interesting discussion Friday with Marty Lurie, who does such a fine job on the A’s pregame shows and with his “Inside Baseball, Saturday Night” program. He says the A’s should do all they can to keep onto Rich Harden, no matter what. Arms like that, he said, are so rare that you have to hold onto them.

I’m not sure I agree.

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