0

A’s Mazzaro likely to miss “1 or 2″ starts

So we’ll get our second look at right-hander Clayton Mortensen tonight as he fills in for Vin Mazzaro. Obviously, Mortensen wasn’t the most heralded of the three players the A’s obtained for Matt Holliday (Brett Wallace holds that distinction). But Mortensen can help himself with a solid outing because it looks like Mazzaro, suffering from shoulder tendinitis, could miss two starts. So pitching well tonight could earn Mortensen a second start.

According to Mazzaro, his shoulder started bothering him about two starts ago. “I didn’t really recover the way I normally do,” Mazzaro said. “I felt a little soreness. … I’ll get a few days off and bounce back. I’ll probably miss one or two starts. I’ll start throwing in five or six days. I’d like to get two or three more (starts before the season ends).”

He said his shoulder feels better today, but this is all new territory for him. He’s never had any shoulder or arm problems before, so he doesn’t know how to gauge the severity of an injury based on how it feels.

A’s manager Bob Geren said Mazzaro has to get through a side session with no problems before being considered for his next outing, but he added that there’s no thought (yet) to shutting the rookie down for the season.

Mortensen gave up eight runs in four innings in his A’s debut on Aug. 8 in Kansas City, and he was sent back to the minors immediately after that. Geren said Mortensen has terrific natural movement on his pitches, and that his key is just staying around the plate and letting that movement work for him (sounds similar to Trevor Cahill).

Two faces in tonight’s lineup that you haven’t seen for a while: Bobby Crosby playing first base and Nomar Garciaparra at DH. Geren wanted to get as many righties as possible in the lineup, as Mariners left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith is very tough on lefties. With Adam Kennedy showing some recent life at the plate (three straight multi-hit games), Geren wanted to keep him out there at third. But that guy is gonna need a rest one of these days, I’d say. …

Tonight’s lineups, featuring Mike Sweeney as a late replacement for Ken Griffey Jr. as Seattle’s DH …
A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Suzuki C
Hairston LF
Nomar DH
Ellis 2B
Crosby 1B
Sweeney RF
Pennington SS

Mortensen RHP

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

Rowland-Smith LHP

0

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

0

Powell, A’s cruising against K.C.

The A’s are putting the early hurt on Kansas City, leading 10-3 after three innings. Landon Powell hit his first career grand slam in the bottom of the second, pushing a 4-0 lead to 8-0. The Royals came back with three against Trevor Cahill, who looked like he took his foot off the pedal with such a big lead. …

Powell’s impressive season really has gone under the radar because he hasn’t played much. But he’s 16-for-46 (.348) with runners on base and 11-for-28 (.393) with guys in scoring position. He also threw out David DeJesus on a first-inning steal attempt and has nailed 7 of 15 base stealers on the season.

–Minor note: The A’s claimed right-hander John Meloan, 25, off waivers from Pittsburgh and assigned him to Triple-A Sacramento. This is Meloan’s fourth organization of the season. He had a 4.57 ERA in 41 games (two starts) in Triple-A split between stints with Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.

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

Outman to DL for A’s

Not a huge shock today when the A’s announced that Josh Outman was placed on the DL to make room for Gio Gonzalez, who takes the hill tonight against the Giants. Outman and the team still haven’t gotten results from the contrast MRI he had today on his elbow. It’s a tough break for Outman, who has been a pleasant surprise after claiming the fifth starter’s spot at the end of spring training. His take on hitting the DL: “I expected to be put on the DL. They needed to get a starting pitcher in there. I’m not upset. I’m obviously hurt to some degree. Hopefully I hear the lesser of several evils.”

Things to watch tonight w/Gonzalez: His fastball control and overall presence on the mound. A huge crowd is expected tonight. It should be a charged atmosphere and a good test for Gonzalez. Geren said the lefty’s had so much movement on his fastball in the minors that it can be tough to control. That’s similar to what Trevor Cahill and Vin Mazzaro deal with from start to start. …

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Kennedy 2B
Suzuki C
Cust RF
Holliday LF
Giambi DH
Cabrera SS
Crosby 1B
Davis CF
Hannahan 3B

Gonzalez

Giants
Rowand CF
Torres LF
Sandoval DH
Molina C
Renteria SS
Aurilia 1B
Uribe 3B
Schierholtz RF
Downs 2B

Johnson P

0

Cust returns to right field

The A’s lineup has a few wrinkles in it today as they shoot for their first six-game winning streak since August 2006.

Jason Giambi is at DH, not surprising since he often DH’s in a day game after a night game. His right lower calf also is bothering him, so the rest can do him well from that standpoint. Jack Cust returns to right field for the first time since the back spasms kicked in last week in Texas. He told me his back tightens up after a couple of at-bats, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting him greatly. With lefty Rich Hill on the mound for Baltimore, right-handed hitting Gregorio Petit gets a start at third base, just his third in nine games since being recalled from the minors.

The lineups:
A’s — Cabrera SS; Kennedy 2B; Cust RF; Holliday LF; Giambi DH; Suzuki C; Crosby 1B; Davis CF; Petit 3B; Mazzaro P.
O’s — Jones CF; Reimold LF; Markakis RF;Scott DH; Mora 3B; Salazar 1B; Wieters C; Wigginton 2B; Andino SS; Hill P.

I didn’t dive real deep into Trevor Cahill’s outing last night, or Bob Geren’s rationale for pulling him after 91 pitches. I was pretty surprised that he wasn’t allowed to go longer. To shed some light on things, Geren said he went to the bullpen because Cahill gave up two hits to start the seventh, and that he wanted Brad Ziegler’s ability to get a ground ball. I was still scratching my head, and not just in hindsight because Ziegler got roughed up. These young pitchers need to be given the opportunity to work their way out of jams late in games, especially when they’re working w/a big lead. I think there’s a lot more confidence to be gained when leaving a game after completing an inning, as opposed to being pulled in the middle of one. There are times when your starter needs the hook, and leaving him in one batter too long can be disastrous. Last night wasn’t one of those times.

That’s all for now …

0

Cahill adding to his arsenal

Something to look for tonight from Trevor Cahill: Bob Geren says he’s been working to perfect a “front-door” sinker against left-handed batters. The pitch basically starts at a guy’s hip and works its way back over the plate. It takes a lot of confidence and trust in the pitch to throw it, because you’re basically aiming for a hitter knowing the pitch will tail back. “It’s not something that’s easily perfected, but it’s almost like having a new pitch,” Geren said. He added that not many pitchers utilize a front-door sinker, but Greg Maddux is an example of somebody who’s had incredible success w/it …

–Checked in w/Ryan Sweeney about his left knee, and he doesn’t sound all that optimistic right now. The A’s staff doesn’t want him to hit or run today. Sweeney found out yesterday he has a sprained MCL. “It’s irritated, so if I start doing stuff it’s going to flare up,” he said. “It’s frustrating.” No talk of the DL yet for Sweeney.

–Geren said he doesn’t expect Nomar Garciaparra to come off the DL when he’s eligible Monday, not a big surprise considering he hadn’t done much in the way of baseball activity since going on the DL.

–Tough news on reliever Dan Giese, who is having Tommy John surgery Tuesday w/Dr. Lewis Yocum. He thought his ulnar nerve simply needed to be moved, but his ulnar collateral ligament was torn, which was causing all the pain with his nerve. He’ll definitely be out at least a full year.

The lineups for tonight’s game, serving as a Jordin Sparks opening act:

A’s
Cabrera SS
Kennedy 2B
Cust DH
Holliday LF
Giambi 1B
Suzuki C
Cunningham RF
Hannahan 3B
Davis CF

Cahill P

Orioles
Roberts 2B
Markakis RF
Jones CF
Scott DH
Huff 1B
Mora 3B
Zaun C
Pie LF
Andino SS

Berken P

0

Counting down the minutes …

Vin Mazzaro was wandering through the clubhouse today, a couple of hours before his first big league start. I always wonder what goes through a guy’s mind leading up to his first game in the majors, particularly a pitcher. It’s gotta be maddening counting down the minutes until game time. Fellow A’s right-hander Trevor Cahill, a good buddy of Mazzaro’s, said (in a good way) that Mazzaro has a little bit of cockiness to him. That would indicate maybe he won’t be intimidated by the major league environment tonight.

I’ll say this about Mazzaro: The kid knows his classic rock. I spotted him during spring training wearing an AC/DC shirt, and he told me he was a big fan. Any 22-year-old who can appreciate AC/DC wins points with me. Come to think of it, I saw Cahill wearing an Iron Maiden shirt after a recent game. What’s next? Brett Anderson sporting some Black Sabbath merchandise???

Interesting tidbit: The A’s will have four rookies starting all four games this series — Cahill, Mazzaro, Josh Outman and Anderson. It’s the first time they’ve had rookies starting four consecutive games since June 11-14, 1996 (Willie Adams, Bobby Chouinard, Steve Wojciechowski, John Wasdin). If all goes as planned, this will be the first time the A’s have four rookies in the rotation for an extended period since 1983, when Chris Codiroli, Tim Conroy, Gorman Heimueller and Mike Warren took five turns through the rotation from Aug. 10-Sept. 18.

A quick bit of news: Reliever Kevin Cameron was optioned to Triple-A to clear a spot for Mazzaro on the 25-man roster, and reliever Dan Giese was transferred to the 60-day DL to make room on the 40-man roster.

Here are tonight’s lineups:

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

Mazzaro P

White Sox
Podsednik LF
Ramirez SS
Dye RF
Thome DH
Konerko 1B
Pierzynski C
Betemit 3B
Wise CF
Nix 2B

Colon P

0

Mazzaro to make A’s debut tomorrow

As the A’s start a four-game series w/the White Sox, the big news in pre-game was that hotshot pitching prospect Vin Mazzaro will be called up to start tomorrow night. The A’s have an open spot because two starters were needed for Friday’s doubleheader in Texas, and all signs pointed toward Tuesday’s outing being a one-shot deal for somebody. Not so, Bob Geren says. Mazzaro will start tomorrow and remain in the rotation for the foreseeable future. Edgar Gonzalez will move to the bullpen. Of course, the A’s will need to clear a roster spot for Mazzaro, so Gonzalez could be a candidate for Triple-A.

“Vin has been exceptional at Triple-A. We all feel he’s ready to go,” Geren said.

I’d have to think that this weekend’s series in Texas — when the A’s lost three of four to drop 10 games back in the AL West — spurred this decision in a big way. There’s lots of season left, but this move is the sign of a team looking toward the future (w/good reason, I’d say). But Geren didn’t bite on the topic when asked about it.

“Honestly, I think he gives us the best chance to win. If he’s 20 years old or 30 years old, he gives us the best chance to win.”

In any case, it didn’t take long for the A’s to get all three of their top pitching prospects — Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Vin Mazzaro — into the rotation at the same time. This will make things interesting, or as interesting as a 19-29 team can possibly be, right????

By the way, check out Mazzaro’s stats at Triple-A Sacramento. Over his last four starts: 0.33 ERA, 21 K’s, 4 walks, 9 hits, one run …

Tonight’s lineups, featuring Gavin Floyd starting for the Sox in place of Bartolo Colon:

A’s — Cabrera SS; Kennedy 2B; Cust DH; Holliday LF; Giambi 1B; Suzuki C; Sweeney CF; Cunningham RF; Hannahan 3B; Cahill P.

White Sox — Podsednik LF; Ramirez SS; Dye RF; Thome DH; Konerko 1B; Pierzynksi C; Fields 3B; Wise CF; Nix 2B; Floyd P.