February 2011

A’s vs. Angels: Pregame notes

It’s Day 2 of Cactus League action. Dallas Braden’s on the mound against Joel Pineiro and the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium, and Hideki Matsui is making his spring debut against his former team. Here’s your A’s lineup:

Ellis, 2B
Suzuki, C
Matsui, DH
Jackson, 1B
Kouzmanoff, 3B
Carson, RF
Carter, LF
Taylor, CF
Tolleson, SS

Also scheduled to pitch: Brandon McCarthy, Guillermo Moscoso, Joe Bateman, Gabe DeHoyos, Trystan Magnuson, Vinnie Chulk, Willie Eyre, Jerry Blevins

Notes: David DeJesus is feeling better and could potentially be in the lineup for tomorrow’s home opener at Phoenix Muni. He’ll take part in light batting practice today but will stay away from running drills and take it easy. … Michael Wuertz is slated to throw a bullpen session off the mound Thursday. Between now and then, he’ll continue building up arm strength after missing a few days because of a sore shoulder. … Rich Harden will start throwing again toward the end of the week, Geren said this morning. Friday is a possibility, but nothing is set in stone. “We don’t want to make the mistake of rushing him,” Geren said. … The A’s will continue to also take it slow with Craig Breslow, who took on a major workload last year. The lefty was a little tender last week, but not to the point of concern. … Andrew Bailey will also be held out of games for at least five to seven days, as he eases his way back into live action. … Geren said Conor Jackson would see some time at first this spring, and he’s in there today. How much time he gets there during the season will depend on Daric Barton’s status. Barton played in 159 games last year, so he’ll be there on a daily basis unless injured or ill.

A’s vs. Cubs: Pregame notes

It’s a chilly morning here at Phoenix Muni, where wet field conditions have forced the players to undergo their workouts over at Papago before they hit the road for today’s Cactus League opener against the host Cubs in Mesa. Here are your starting lineups:

OAKLAND

Crisp, CF
Barton, 1B
Willingham, LF
Suzuki, DH
LaRoche, 3B
Carson, RF
Powell, C
Sogard, SS
Tolleson, 2B
Cahill, P

CHICAGO

Fukudome, RF
Castro, SS
Byrd, CF
Ramirez, 3B
Pena, 1B
Soriano, LF
Soto, C
DeWitt, 2B
Zambrano, P

Notes: Fifth-starter candidates Tyson Ross, Bobby Cramer and Josh Outman, as well as
relievers Brad Ziegler, Joey Devine and non-roster invitee Danny
Farquhar
, are expected to get work in the game as well. Ross, Cramer and Outman, as well as Cahill, will be limited to about 35 pitches. Geren is hoping from two innings from each of them … David DeJesus was slated to play today, but he’s feeling under the weather. … Michael Wuertz (shoulder) will begin throwing again today, likely 30-40 throws from a distance of 90-100 feet. … Normally we’re used to seeing Eric Sogard at second base and Steve Tolleson at shortstop, but Geren said he wrote his lineup out the way he did for that very reason. He hasn’t seen enough of Sogard at shortstop, and he reiterated that the winner of the utility role battle will be “who plays shortstop best.” Obviously other factors are considered, but given the fact Cliff Pennington is coming off shoulder surgery, strong shortstop skills represent a “major factor,” Geren said. Both Sogard and Tolleson will see plenty time there this spring, as will Andy LaRoche and Josh Horton. … Pennington will stay away from the batter’s box for at least the first week of games, as he takes it slow with his shoulder, but Geren said he might get to play a little defense. The A’s are pacing it with him, and so far there have been no setbacks. “We’d like to keep it that way,” Geren said. … Hideki Matsui isn’t making the trip to Mesa, but he’ll be in the lineup against the Angels tomorrow and could see 2-3 at-bats in the DH role, Geren said. The skipper’s morning media session was interrupted by the sound of shrieking girls yelling for Matsui as he walked across the field. “It’s the Oscars for him every day,” Geren said. “He gets the red carpet treatment every day. … That will never happen to me.”

Preview: Intrasquad Game No. 3

The A’s are preparing for their final intrasquad contest before the “real” games begin Sunday. Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez are among the hurlers that will throw 20 pitches — no more, no less — today. Here are your lineups:

Team 1

CHOICE, CF
WILLINGHAM, LF
MATSUI, DH
LAROCHE, 3B
POWELL, C
DOOLITTLE, 1B
MILLER, RF
HORTON, SS
CARDENAS, 2B

On the bench: TAYLOR, STASSI

Team 2

ELLIS, 2B
BARTON, 1B
JACKSON, RF
KOUZMANOFF, 3B
SWEENEY, DH
CARTER, LF
CARSON, CF
RECKER, C
PENNINGTON, SS

On the bench: TIMMONS, TOLLESON, WEEKS, DONALDSON

Grant Green will bat for Cliff Pennington, with whom the A’s want to be careful in bringing back from left shoulder surgery. Pennington’s also been instructed to avoid diving in the infield, as that’s how he initially injured the shoulder back in July of last year.

Other morning notes: Despite speculation that he might begin throwing again as soon as tomorrow, Rich Harden (lat stiffness) likely won’t do so for another week, Geren said. There have been no other setbacks; they just want to give him the necessary time to strengthen his arm and make sure he’s ready. When asked if that extra time makes it unlikely that Harden will be ready by season’s start, Geren replied, “I don’t know. Never say never.” At this point, Harden may be best suited for a bullpen role, but the team isn’t ready to rule out a starting job. “We don’t want to put any limitations or a timeline on him,” Geren said. … Michael Wuertz (shoulder) will resume throwing tomorrow, but don’t expect to see him in a game for at least another 12 days. 

Day 11: Intrasquad roundup

Postgame tidbits: Dallas Braden, who was greeted by leadoff hitter Coco Crisp donning an A-Rod patch on the back of his uniform, looked to be in midseason form, Geren said. Braden threw 20 pitches and allowed just one hit. … Catcher Max Stassi homered off Guillermo Moscoso, while fellow catcher Josh Donaldson didn’t fare so well in the game, taking a foul ball to his knee. Geren didn’t know the extent of the injury but said it’s likely a deep bruise. … Prospect Sean Doolittle, who has been sidelined by a left knee injury the past two years, collected his first hit of the spring, a clean single off Jerry Blevins. … Also of note, Geren said after the game that he expects Rich Harden to begin throwing again Sunday or Monday.

Preview: Intrasquad Game No. 2

Day 2 of intrasquad action, slated to take off shortly after noon here at Phoenix Muni, has plenty interesting prospects scattered throughout both lineups. They’ll play 4 1/2 innings.

Team Grey

CRISP, CF
CHOICE, LF
SWEENEY, DH
CARTER, 1B
CARSON, RF
TOLLESON, 2B
TIMMONS, 3B
STASSI, C
PENNINGTON, SS

Team White

WEEKS, 2B
SUZUKI, C
DEJESUS, RF
JACKSON, 1B
TAYLOR, LF
LAROCHE, DH
SOGARD, 2B
MILLER, CF
GREEN, SS

On the bench: HORTON, DONALDSON, RECKER, CARDENAS

Dallas Braden, Brandon McCarthy and Guillermo Moscoso are among those scheduled to throw today. Like yesterday, each pitcher will throw exactly 20 pitches, no matter if it takes one out or five to do so.

Notes: Bob Geren said Ryan Sweeney won’t be cleared to play the outfield until sometime between March 7-9. He’s not yet running at full strength, and the team doesn’t want to take its chances with his surgically-repaired knee. Geren noted that Sweeney is such a good outfielder that it won’t take many reps for him to be season-ready. … Michael Wuertz is expected to return to the mound either Saturday or Sunday after missing a few days because of shoulder soreness.

Day 10: Intrasquad notes

A handful of tidbits from today’s quick intrasquad game:

Josh Outman and Tyson Ross both impressed today, as did Trevor Cahill, whom Bob Geren deemed “close to top form.” Outman, maybe more so than anyone, had plenty eyes watching every one of his 20 pitches. He allowed just one hit — a Coco Crisp single up the middle — and hit 92 on the gun at least five times. … Joey Devine, meanwhile, endured some command struggles, walking two in his stint, but felt great, which is really what matters at this point. … On the offensive side, Anthony Recker launched a homer to left field, and newcomers David DeJesus, Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui talled back-to-back-to-back hits, with Matsui tallying the first RBI of the spring. 

Preview: Intrasquad Game No. 1

Here are your lineups for today’s intrasquad game, scheduled to start around noon here at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. They’ll play 3 1/2 innings, with each pitcher slated to throw exactly 20 pitches — no more, no less. Bullpen catcher Casey Chavez will act as umpire.

Team Grey:

CRISP, CF
JACKSON, LF
SWEENEY, DH
CARTER, 1B
LAROCHE, 3B
DONALDSON, C
CARSON, RF
TOLLESON, SS
CARDENAS, 2B
CRAMER, P

On the bench: STASSI, TIMMONS, CHOICE

Team White:

ELLIS, 2B
BARTON, 1B
DEJESUS, RF
WILLINGHAM, LF
MATSUI, DH
KOUZMANOFF, 3B
POWELL, C
TAYLOR, CF
SOGARD, SS
CAHILL, P

On the bench: RECKER, GREEN, MILLER

Tyson Ross, Josh Outman, Brad Ziegler, Joey Devine and Danny Farquhar will also see work on the mound today.

Kurt Suzuki’s not on either lineup card, but Bob Geren said he’ll play in tomorrow’s intrasquad game and start Sunday’s Cactus League opener against the Cubs. Geren would like to keep Suzuki on an every-other-day schedule at the beginning so as to not overwork him straight out of the chute. Cliff Pennington (left shoulder) will be eased into game action, though his rehab is coming along quite well. In fact, Geren said he could be ahead of schedule at this point. He’s been taking grounders on a daily basis, and he’s back to hitting from both sides of the plate — still more so from the left side, though.

What does Geren want to see in these intrasquad contests? From the hitters, timing. From the pitchers, strikes. A strike percentage of 65 percent is ideal, Geren said, but obviously that’s a lofty number, so anywhere close is going to equal a good outing.

Tuesday morning quick hits

It’s a warm Tuesday morning here at Papago Park, where the second day of full-squad workouts is underway. Here’s a few brief notes to start your day:

  • Geren confirmed the pitching schedule has Trevor Cahill lined up to start Sunday’s Cactus League opener against the Cubs in Mesa. Bobby Cramer, Tyson Ross, Josh Outman, Brad Ziegler, Joey Devine and Danny Farquhar are among those who could follow, though one or two might get their work in on the side if need be.
  • Michael Wuertz, who left the complex early with shoulder soreness on Monday, could return to the mound as soon as Thursday, Geren said. Wuertz described it as the typical shoulder soreness he experiences most springs and noted that it’s not nearly as bad as last year’s bout with tendinitis. The righty said he’s been working with pitching coach Ron Romanick since January, and he was already up to 45-pitch bullpen sessions. “I may have increased my workload a bit too much, too soon,” he said. “That extra torque early on probably flared it up.” Wuertz tried to pitch through the discomfort last spring, but he ultimately missed the first month of the season. “We’re taking a different course of action this year,” he said. “We’re acting on it early so that it doesn’t become a problem later on.”
  • Among those scheduled to throw live batting practice today are Dallas Braden, Brandon McCarthy and Guillermo Moscoso. Moscoso, acquired from Texas this winter, is being stretched out as a starter and could be someone to keep an eye on in the next couple of weeks.
  • Geren spent a lengthy time this morning talking about how impressed he’s been by Josh Willingham. “He has one of the better right-handed approaches I’ve ever seen,” he said. “He has that kind of style that leads to the most consistency. If you’re going to teach a right-handed style, you’d look to his to do so.”

I’ll check back in after workouts have been concluded for the day…

First full-squad workouts today

Good morning from Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where the A’s are currently in their first team meeting as they prepare to head down the street to Papago Park for their first full-squad workout today. Among the pitchers slated to throw live batting practice are Trevor Cahill, Bobby Cramer, Tyson Ross, Josh Outman, Brad Ziegler, Joey Devine and Danny Farquhar. That puts them on track to throw in Thursday’s intrasquad game and Sunday’s Cactus League opener, though it’s subject to change, of course, if injuries arise.

Matsui arrives in Arizona

A large handful of Japanese reporters greeted Hideki Matsui at a Phoenix airport on Friday night, when the new A’s slugger spoke of his excitement about the start of camp while sporting a green vest.

Fresh off the plane, Matsui took about five questions, one which focused on his attire and possible promotion of his new team, for which he’s expected to serve as designated hitter.

“He said it was just an accident that he happened to be wearing green,” one reporter said with a smile, “but I’ve been covering him since 2003, and I’ve never seen him in anything but dark colors.”

The Japanese contingent waited nearly five hours at the airport for Matsui, who endured delays on a connecting flight in Dallas while traveling from New York.

Matsui donned the green and gold on Saturday for a commercial shoot at the A’s Minor League facilities, where he’s expected to greet media tonight. However, he isn’t slated to join teammates at Phoenix Municipal Stadium until Sunday, when A’s position players report. 

The 36-year-old Matsui, who agreed to a one-year, $4.25 million deal with Oakland this winter, told Japanese reporters that he’s entering Spring Training in excellent shape and that his knees, plagued by injuries in recent years, are of no worry.

“That’s why he’s so excited to have a new season,” one reporter said. “His knees are in good condition.”

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