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.


A’s 3, Mariners 2

A couple of leftover thoughts from tonight’s game, won by the A’s when Bobby Crosby scored on Gregorio Petit’s single to right in the top of the ninth. Crosby ran through a stop sign by third base coach Mike Gallego, and I’m still wondering what the conversation would have been like between Crosby and Bob Geren had Seattle catcher Rob Johnson held on to that ball. Anyway …

–A nice bounce-back effort from Trevor Cahill, who used his extra time between starts to work on his arm slot during his delivery. The work paid dividends, according to Geren, who called the outing a “stepping stone.” “He had a touch less movement, but a touch more velocity. And he had enough movement, if that makes sense,” Geren said.

Said Cahill: “After the first couple innings, I felt like I got comfortable. It was a lot easier. I found that rhythm I had in my last couple of side (sessions).”

But the A’s still aren’t giving him much offensive support. Coming in, his run support of 2.25 per outing was fourth lowest in the American League.

–The A’s continue to lean on Andrew Bailey hard out of the bullpen. It speaks to his effectiveness, but he’s logging an awfully heavy workload for a young guy. He gave up a run in the seventh, but came back strong in the eighth, getting Jose Lopez and Johnson swinging on 93 and 94 mph fastballs. Geren continues to rave about him.

“He was working at a tempo a touch quicker today, but when he had to at the end, he got his rhythm and threw fastballs right by guys. I could see him closing games when he gets more (experience). He has that ability.”

Don’t be surprised to see Bailey get a crack at the ninth inning soon, especially if it takes Brad Ziegler (still battling the flu) a while to regain his strength …


Cahill’s start pushed back to Saturday

The dark clouds come and go over Rangers Ballpark. Right now the sun is out as the A’s take BP before tonight’s series opener w/Texas. Weather.com says there’s a 40 percent chance of rain tonight and tomorrow. The wind is blowing pretty good too, so we’ll see how that affects fly balls tonight.

On to today’s news …

Trevor Cahill was supposed to start tomorrow’s game, but he’s been pushed back to Saturday. Josh Outman will take the ball tomorrow, so they’ve basically flip-flopped rotation turns. This gives Cahill two bullpen sessions in between starts instead of one to work out the kinks from Friday’s outing, when Tampa Bay knocked him around pretty good. “I’m just trying to find a consistent arm slot,” Cahill said before heading out to stretch.

That was more insight than we got from Bob Geren when discussing Cahill. Geren said during his media chat that the switch was made partly because the A’s didn’t like Outman going so long between starts. But I’m thinking this has EVERYTHING to do w/Cahill’s last outing. You’ve gotta believe the A’s will have a quick hook w/Cahill in the rotation if he keeps struggling, especially if Sean Gallagher and/or Gio Gonzalez continue throwing well at Triple-A (Gio starts tonight, by the way). I could see one of them up soon.

Eric Chavez just finished taking grounders and making throws around the infield. How he comes out of that will determine when he might return to the lineup. Could be tomorrow. Could be … ?????? If Chavez winds up on the DL, I’d expect the A’s to call up a reliever. They’re going with a 6-man bullpen right now, one short of what Geren usually likes carrying …

Today’s A’s lineup:

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

For the Rangers: Kinsler 2B; Byrd CF; Young 3B; Jones LF; Blalock DH; Cruz RF; Davis 1B; Saltalamacchia C; Andrus SS; Millwood P.


Cahill no-hit bid ends in 7th

Adrian Beltre lined a clean single to center with one out in the top of the seventh here at the Coliseum, the first hit of the day off Trevor Cahill. He had walked three and hit one batter, but then settled into a groove, retiring 11 straight leading up to Beltre’s hit. Mike Sweeney followed with a two-out double to score the game’s first run. A’s center fielder Rajai Davis lost his footing as he broke on the ball. I’m not sure he could have caught it, but he probably would have cut the ball off had he not stumbled, and saved the run from scoring.

Anyway, it’s been an impressive effort by Cahill, who’s struck out three. Would have been interesting had he taken the no-no into the eighth or ninth, because his pitch count would have been an issue. He was at 82 pitches entering the seventh. …

1-0 Mariners, bottom of the seventh …


First impressions

At last! After seven weeks of hearing through-the-grapevine stories, it was great to see Trevor Cahill on the hill last night (albeit not in person). I was mostly impressed, although I do think he has a touch of Bob Welch disease. Welch, for those who don’t remember, had a bad habit when he first arrived in Oakland in 1988, of responding to difficulties by trying to throw the ball harder and harder. As a result, his pitches would get straighter and straighter. It wasn’t until Welch learned to back off a bit during difficult situations that he became a Cy Young winnerWelch’s 1990 campaign is another reason why I pay hardly zero attention to what happens with veterans in the spring.

Not saying the ceiling is necessarily that high for Cahill, but he will be better than he was last night once he learns how to do the same thing. Cahill gave up single runs in the first two innings Tuesday, and even though there were other mitigating factors — home plate umpire Larry Vanover’s strike zone got real tight for one — but I noticed that Cahill seemed to pumping up his effort when he was in trouble. Successful major-league pitchers will tell you that the effort needs to be the same whether the bases are loaded or the bases are empty.

That said, I see why the A’s are so excited about this kid. Can’t wait to see Brett Anderson next.

Other impressions from the first two games:

— Jack Cust cannot play the outfield. He dropped one again last night. No more evidence needed.

— Ryan Sweeney doesn’t seem to cover much ground in center field. Not sure his loping strides are going to be that effective out there. Plus, he needs to take charge more. He seems to be better suited for the corner spots.

— Physically, Jason Giambi looks like he never left.

— As I predicted, Brad Ziegler gave up a run in his first outing. Nobody should be surprised. The man went 39 innings before allowing his first run last year. So naturally, he allowed one in his first try this year.


A’s 6, Angels 4

There was a lot to cram into Wednesday’s paper on tonight’s 6-4 A’s win over the Angels. Not all of it made it in, so here’s a few leftover details:

–Trevor Cahill had plenty of supporters who made the trip up from the San Diego area to watch his major league debut. As of about 30 minutes after the game, he didn’t have any keepsakes, however. No lineup card or game ball or anything. Maybe that will come after his first victory, which he’d probably prefer anyway.

“I was more nervous (Monday night) than today with the game itself,” Cahill said. “It couldn’t come soon enough.”

Overall, his five innings were pretty good considering he was constantly working out of jams.

“For his first game, I thought he handled himself pretty well,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “I didn’t see him nervous or rattled by being in that situation.”

–Eric Chavez had one RBI, giving him 777 for his career and moving past Reggie Jackson for seventh place in A’s franchise history.

That’s all for now …


A’s rotation set; Outman in, Gallagher out

The A’s waited until the last possible moment here in Arizona to drop some concrete news regarding their rotation.

After today’s 8-8 tie against the Chicago Cubs, Bob Geren unveiled his starting five: Dallas Braden, Trevor Cahill, Dana Eveland, Brett Anderson, Josh Outman, in that order.

We knew for a while the 21-year-old duo of Anderson and Cahill looked pretty solid for the rotation. The big news here is Outman’s inclusion in the No. 5 spot over Gallagher. Outman, who gets the April 10 home opener vs. Seattle, pitched very well yesterday in a start against the Royals, and that probably sealed it for him. Gallagher, who the A’s envisioned as an instrumental part of their rotation when they acquired him from the Cubs last season, is still a long relief candidate, Geren said.

More details in tomorrow’s paper …


Padres 5, A’s 2

Final scores don’t mean a whole lot in the Cactus League, but the A’s have failed to find the win column for a while now. They lost their ninth straight, 5-2, to San Diego tonight. A quick rundown:

–The A’s used what could very well be their Opening Day lineup, and the Padres countered with Jake Peavy on the mound. Peavy prevailed, giving up just two hits and no walks in six shutout innings. But the A’s did welcome Eric Chavez back. Chavez went 0-for-2 — fly out and strikeout — but said he felt better at the plate (health-wise) than he has all spring. That’s big because swinging the bat is what’s bothered his right shoulder most.

–Trevor Cahill was hardly his sharpest, allowing four runs, three walks and a homer in four innings. He looked like he was trying to over-throw. An Oceanside native, Cahill said he was a little too jacked up facing the Padres. He also had his mom and several friends in the stands. “He had good movement, but he wasn’t real efficient with his pitches,” Bob Geren said. “(But) I liked his stuff.” Long story short, his chances of making the rotation didn’t take too much of a hit.

Nomar Garciaparra and Jack Cust hit back-to-back homers in the eighth for the A’s only runs. Scott Hairston homered twice for San Diego, once off Cahill and once off Joey Devine. It was Devine’s first appearance since March 4. The homer was the only blemish in his one inning.

Orlando Cabrera has flashed a pretty nice glove w/the A’s so far. He turned in a gem in the first inning. Brian Giles smoked a hard grounder up the middle and Cabrera picked it cleanly off the short hop and made the throw to first. Beauty …

Tomorrow, Dana Eveland takes the mound against the Brewers in Maryvale. He’ll be looking to bounce back from two lackluster efforts in his most recent starts.

Check in w/you in the morning …


A’s send Jerome Williams, seven others down

The home clubhouse at Phoenix Municipal Stadium got a little less crowded this morning as eight players were sent down to the minors. Most notable among them — non-roster right-hander Jerome Williams, who was considered a strong candidate for the A’s rotation. Second baseman Eric Patterson, third baseman Jeff Baisley and right-hander Ryan Webb were optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. Williams, right-hander James Simmons (who had an outside chance at the rotation), and right-handed reliever Kevin Cameron were reassigned to minor league camp, along with infielders Joe Dillon and Sean Doolittle. (To clarify: If a player wasn’t on the 40-man roster, he gets “reassigned” to the minors; if he was on the 40-man, he gets “optioned” and remains on the 40-man.)

Sending Williams down is another indication the A’s are strongly considering one of their young blue-chip prospects (Vin Mazzaro, Trevor Cahill or Brett Anderson) for the rotation. Williams came into camp looking like a starting candidate because of his prior big league experience. He wasn’t terrible in Cactus League games (4.00 ERA in four appearances, but no starts). Bob Geren said this morning that Williams would probably begin the season in Sacramento’s rotation, so he’s a decent option as an emergency starter in the bigs when needed.

–Simmons is likely to join Williams in the Triple-A rotation, which also figures to include any from the trio of Anderson, Cahill and Mazzaro who aren’t in the majors. Geren had good things to say about Doolittle, a first baseman considered to be excellent defensively. “He’s got some similar actions around the bag to Don Mattingly,” said Geren, a teammate of Mattingly’s with the Yankees. Doolittle was hitting .364 this spring and his 9 RBI leads the A’s.

–Reliever Joey Devine is scheduled to throw a flat-ground side session Tuesday, followed by a bullpen session off the mound Thursday. Write that in pencil, as we all know the schedules for the A’s walking wounded change by the day.

–Eric Chavez took grounders at third, though his throwing is limited to long toss for now. He’s still targeting Wednesday or Thursday to start hitting again.

–Today’s lineup vs. the visiting Dodgers, who are without Manny Ramirez but will have ex-Giants Jason Schmidt and Shawn Estes throwing:

Davis CF
Buck RF
GArciaparra DH
Giambi 1B
Powell C
Crosby 3B
Denorfia LF
Hannahan 2B
Pennington SS

Cahill starting on the mound …


He’s catching on

After the A’s second day of workouts wrapped up, manager Bob Geren went out of his way to praise catching prospect Josh Donaldson, who was acquired from the Cubs as part of last July’s Rich Harden trade. Donaldson, 23, is a long-range prospect (he didn’t start catching until his junior year at Auburn). But the A’s like his bat as well as his physical tools behind the plate. “I had some (discussion) with him about how many games he’s caught in his life,” Geren said. “He thought maybe 160. I told him that’s (close to) how many Kurt Suzuki caught last year. With the minimal exposure he has now, I think he can improve rapidly.” A former big league catcher himself, Geren said the biggest thing for a player who’s relatively new to catching is to master the fundamentals of the position. From there, learning how to handle pitchers and call a game comes with experience.

The backup catcher situation might merit paying attention to. The A’s re-signed Rob Bowen as the No. 2 man behind Suzuki, but the team also has Landon Powell in camp. A first-round pick in 2004, Powell’s career has been sidetracked by a knee injury, but he appears to be 100 percent now. Bowen has an edge in experience (his at-bats are few and far between because Suzuki logs so many innings as the starter). But Powell still has lots of upside and could force the A’s to make a decision if he has a big spring. And, of course, Donaldson figures to get his chance down the road …

Other Sunday bits:

–Ace Justin Duchscherer threw his first bullpen session, and he’s shown no lingering effects from right hip surgery last September.

— Geren, on whether third baseman Eric Chavez would be ready for the exhibition opener Feb. 25: “I have no reason now to say he wouldn’t be, but I want to see him in daily workouts first.”

–Trevor Cahill, the club’s other blue-chip pitching prospect along with Brett Anderson and Vin Mazzaro, threw Sunday. Catcher Anthony Recker, who was behind the plate for many of Cahill’s games last season in Double-A, also caught him Sunday, and said his fastball, curve and slider seemed sharp. “But I tell you what, I was really impressed with his change-up,” Recker said.

–In his morning chat w/reporters, Geren said competition should be fierce for what figures to be one or two available spots in the bullpen. Non-roster pitcher Jerome Williams doesn’t seem to be a candidate, as Geren said Williams is being considered primarily as a starter. Along those lines, it’s assumed that lefties Gio Gonzalez and Josh Outman will be considered for the ‘pen if they don’t open the season in the rotation. But judging from Geren’s comments over the offseason, I’m gathering that Outman is seen as being better suited for relief if it comes to that. This is speculation on my part, but I see Gonzalez beginning the season in the Triple-A rotation if he doesn’t crack Oakland’s starting five. …

That’s all for now …