4

Conor Jackson draws start in left field; Hideki Matsui gets rare rest

Here’s your pregame lowdown as the Toronto Blue Jays arrive for a four-game series at the Coliseum …

–Conor Jackson returns to the A’s lineup and he’s playing left field, with Josh Willingham serving as DH and Hideki Matsui getting a day off. So that’s one way for A’s manager Bob Melvin to work Jackson back into the lineup without removing Allen. Beyond today, we’ll see what happens, but I’d expect to see Jackson coming off the bench for the near future, at least until Allen cools off. And I think that makes the A’s an overall stronger team because Jackson’s versatility is valuable off the bench. At this point in the season, it’s all about evaluating young players to see what you have for next season, so Allen needs to stay in there.

As for Jackson’s neck soreness, he said he “feels good enough to play,” an indication that he’s still not back to 100 percent yet.

–It’s just a regular day off for Matsui, who has started 30 of the first 31 games after the All-Star break.

–The A’s placed reliever Trystan Magnuson on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation and recalled lefty Jordan Norberto. The late-inning bullpen situation is something to watch tonight, as Melvin said he was unsure of the availability of Grant Balfour, Andrew Bailey and Brian Fuentes. Bailey has pitched two days in a row and Balfour and Fuentes have been used a lot lately too.

–Check out this story on former A’s third baseman Jack Hannahan and the birth of his son. Pretty good stuff. … Hannahan is now with the Cleveland Indians.

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s — Weeks 2B, Pennington SS, Crisp CF, Willingham DH, Allen 1B, Jackson LF, Suzuki C, DeJesus RF, Sizemore 3B; Cahill RHP.

Jays – Escobar SS, Thames LF, Bautista RF, Lind 1B, Encarnacion DH, Rasmus CF, Lawrie 3B, Hill 2B, Arencibia C; Romero LHP.

3

A’s option reliever Joey Devine to minors, recall Trystan Magnuson

The A’s optioned reliever Joey Devine to the minors today and recalled right-hander Trystan Magnuson to take his place. Obviously, they think Devine’s recent struggles weren’t just about him losing his grip on the baseball. A’s manager Bob Melvin pointed to Devine’s past three outings, when Devine allowed four earned runs and four walks combined against Detroit and the New York Yankees. “Joey was struggling with his command, and in his role, being the seventh inning guy, it’s a difficult one to struggle with your command in,” Melvin said. “… We just felt like it was best to work on things in the minor leagues and get his command back there.”

Devine unintentionally threw pitches behind hitters on Friday and Sunday against the Yankees, saying he was having trouble gripping the ball because of the extreme humidity. He didn’t appear to have much confidence in his fastball Sunday. I lost track of how many sliders he threw in a row at one point, and when a guy possesses a mid-90’s fastball, you don’t want him shying away from it.

Magnuson impressed the A’s with 3 1/3 scoreless innings against Florida on June 30, but then he had to be sent down because the A’s needed a fresh arm for the next day. He told me he’s been working on his split-fingered fastball to use as another weapon against lefties.

Here’s your lineups:

A’s: Weeks 2B, Crisp CF, Matsui DH, Willingham LF, Jackson 1B, Sweeney RF, Pennington SS, Sizemore 3B, Powell C; Cahill RHP.

Rays: Jennings CF, Damon DH, Zobrist 2B, Longoria 3B, Kotchman 1B, Joyce RF, Shoppach C, Fuld LF, Rodriguez SS; Shields RHP.