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Outfielder Matt Carson promoted from Triple-A

Pretty nice story today, as the A’s promoted outfielder Matt Carson from Triple-A Sacramento. Carson is making his major league debut at age 28. He led Sacramento with 25 homers and 77 RBI, but he’s flown under the radar with some of the other higher profile players on the River Cats roster. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the A’s transferred pitcher Vin Mazzaro to the 60-day DL, which is no surprise since they already announced he’s out for the season.

More to come in a bit …

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Brett Tomko could be out for season; Dana Eveland gets a start

Working my way back into game shape  after not covering the last road trip, and problems connecting to the Internet aren’t helping my cause. But I won’t bore you w/that. Here’s a few quick A’s items as we’re not far off from first pitch at the Coliseum …

–With Vin Mazzaro shut down for the season with shoulder tendinitis, Bob Geren said Clayton Mortensen would remain in the rotation the remainder of 2009. Mortensen makes his third start tonight since being recalled from the minors, and he’s looked pretty good in his first two outings.

–Brett Tomko, who’s experiencing a nerve problem in his elbow area, could also be out for the season, Geren said. These injuries aren’t helping the A’s efforts to carry through with a six-man rotation, are they? Lefty Dana Eveland will start in Tomko’s place Sunday, with Edgar Gonzalez taking the hill in Monday’s series opener against Texas.

Remember when Eveland was a key part of Oakland’s rotation? His name has fallen through the cracks with the emergence of other young pitchers, but he’s looking forward to his first major league start since July 6. He’s made three relief apperances since being recalled Sept. 1, allowing five hits and one run in three innings.

Tomko wasn’t in the clubhouse today, as his wife is preparing to deliver twins tomorrow. Not much more concrete detail to offer on his injury.

Here’s tonight’s lineups, featuring Landon Powell in the DH spot for the A’s. Hmmm, I’ll go out on a limb and predict he might hit a homer. Gutsy call, eh???

A’s

Kennedy 3B

Davis CF

Sweeney LF

Suzuki C

Powell DH

Cust RF

Ellis 2B

Barton 1B

Pennington SS

Mortensen RHP

 

Indians

Brantley CF

Carroll 2B

Choo RF

Peralta 3B

Hafner DH

LaPorta 1B

Valbuena SS

Marson C

Crowe LF

Masterson RHP

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Sunday pregame update: Thoughts on Gio Gonzalez; Ichiro nearing milestones

Pretty ideal afternoon for baseball at the Coliseum, as the A’s try to split this four-gamer w/Seattle. …

–When we talk about the future of the A’s pitching staff, we tend to focus on Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Vin Mazzaro. But let’s remember that Gio Gonzalez’s development will also help shape the future of this staff. Gonzalez hasn’t looked as sharp in recent outings as he did during that four-start stretch that bridged July and August, when he picked up three wins. He’s still had good stuff — look at his strikeouts (24 in the last three outings). But his command has been off (17 walks over the last four outings).

So I’d say his remaining starts of 2009 will be pretty huge as far as setting him up for next season. I still like Gonzalez’s potential as a starter long-term as opposed to relieving. Some of that will depend on how he develops his change-up as a third pitch, and Bob Geren talked about how Gonzalez continues to work on that pitch. In key situations, he’ll still rely on his fastball and curve, but being able to give hitters another wrinkle to think about will make that fastball and curve even more effective …

–There’s been a larger group of Japanese media covering this A’s-Mariners series than usual, as Ichiro Suzuki is just one hit shy of 2,000 for his major league career. He’s also six hits shy of his ninth straight 200-hit season, which would set a new major league record. A few of us were talking before the game about Ichiro’s potential to rack up these kind of stats into his 40′s. I expect him to do that. You look at the way he flicks at the ball right now on a lot of his hits, and that’s something he can keep doing even as he loses some bat speed. So this string of 200-hit seasons may not stop any time soon if he stays healthy, which he’s done to this point. …

–Here’s today’s lineups

A’s
Kennedy 3B
Davis CF
Sweeney RF
Hairston DH
Powell C
Ellis 2B
Barton 1B
Patterson LF
Pennington SS

Gonzalez LHP

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

Fister RHP

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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

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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

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No start time yet

We’re 45 minutes into this rain delay, and no concrete word on when the game might start. I’ll keep you updated. There is talk that 9 p.m. (6 p.m. West Coast) might be the magic time, but no confirmation for that.

Meanwhile, in the “That Just Ain’t Right” category, the Yankees’ JumboTron just showed a man and woman each wearing the same T-shirt. It had a big Yankee logo on the front and “Mazzaro” on the back. I know that Vin has a lot of fans here tonight, and I know they’re all probably Yankee fans at heart. But come on folks, choose a side …

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More Yankee Stadium rain, of course

Well, the tarp is on the field and the rain is coming down pretty good at Yankee Stadium. We’re about 30 minutes from the scheduled first pitch, and weather.com lists the chances of continued rain at 95-100% through 10 p.m. local time. A 100% chance of rain? Does that mean Mother Nature has dictated rain WILL FALL, no questions asked???? Dallas Braden came into the clubhouse drenched after running out on the field and doing a “tarp dive” (Andrew Bailey captured footage on his cell phone). Right now, tarp diving looks like the only activity that might be taking place on this field tonight. The A’s just can’t catch a break here. Tonight’s game is a makeup from their last trip to the Bronx, when they had an April 20 contest rained out. If they don’t play tonight, they’ll probably play a doubleheader at some point this weekend. We haven’t gotten any word on a Plan B yet.

–You’ve probably seen this report from ESPN’s Buster Olney, who has a source saying there’s a 50-50 chance the A’s and Cardinals swing a deal for Matt Holliday. No surprise that the A’s might be zeroing in on St. Louis third base prospect Brett Wallace, who was a heavy consideration for them during the 2008 draft.

–Surely there’s a large group of Vin Mazzaro fans who hope tonight’s game gets played. Mazzaro, from nearby Rutherford, N.J., is scheduled to make his first start in Yankee Stadium. He’ll have plenty of people cheering him on, as Andrew Bailey did during the last series here. Jack Cust is the A’s third New Jersey native.

–Some details if this game does get played: Adam Kennedy gets a rare day off, as Bob Geren said he’s trying to budget some time off for his everyday players during this 28-day stretch of consecutive games. Rajai Davis is leading off and playing right field. Bobby Crosby (7-for-23 with a HR lifetime against Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia) is playing third base. Cust is the only left-handed hitter in the A’s lineup.

–Justin Duchscherer update: His first rehab outing might come Sunday for Single-A Stockton against the San Jose Giants in San Jose. Geren said that was a possibility instead of Duchscherer throwing Monday in an Arizona Rookie League game. Hold tight on that for now. We’ll probably know more tomorrow. …

Tonight’s lineups:

A’s
Davis RF
Cabrera SS
Hairston CF
Holliday LF
Garciaparra 1B
Suzuki C
Cust DH
Crosby 3B
Ellis 2B

Mazzaro RHP

Yankees
Jeter SS
Damon LF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui DH
Posada C
Cano 2B
Hinske RF
Gardner CF

Sabathia LHP

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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

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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

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Talking Vinny

No doubt, you’ve read or heard the big news by now. With Vin Mazzaro’s promotion in mind, here’s a recap of some of the points director of player personnel Billy Owens made about him when we talked a recently.

On Mazzaro’s progress: “He’s definitely taken a strong step forward in the past 18 months. He has an exceptional arm, and can top out at 96 or 97 mph, and his ball has natural sink. Last year, and really most of this year, he’s gotten to the point where he’s trusted his fastball and sinker a lot more, and he’s pitched more comfortably at 93 or 94 (mph).

On his offspeed stuff: “His soft game has gotten a lot better. His overall command has gotten a lot better. His ground ball-to-fly ball ratio was very strong last year, and the rest of his ratios have been where they need to be, and it has stayed that way. … ”

Personally. I’m a tad surprised that Mazzaro is coming up now. I would say it’s reminiscent of the day in June of 1999 when the A’s recalled Tim Hudson. But that A’s eam was going places, and this team clearly isn’t. It also starts his service time clicking early, and likely means that he’ll be eligible for arbitration one winter early.

I asked assistant general manager David Forst about that very thing last week. His response: “Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world that always allows you the luxury” of bringing up a player at the most idealistic time for a franchise. There may be other teams out there with the options to do that, but right now, we don’t have it.”

Incidentally, Melissa Lockard of scout.com has a very good piece discussing Mazzaro’s promotion.