Day 3: Geren undecided on OD starter
Well, it took less than five days for an A’s player to get hurt. Rich Harden, battling a stiff lat muscle under his pitching arm that will keep him out a couple of weeks, reminded everyone today that health is still very much a concern for this A’s team. Signing Harden this winter was a risky move by the A’s, especially given the fact they know, possibly more so than any other club, that injury follows his every move. Hopefully this setback isn’t the first of many, and Harden genuinely feels optimistic about his chances of returning in time to stake his claim on a rotation spot. If he’s not healthy, there are several other fifth starter options. But if you take a close look at those candidates — Brandon McCarthy, Josh Outman, Tyson Ross, Bobby Cramer — you’ll realize nearly all have an injury history as well. This is why depth is so important for this team, which is also including right-hander Guillermo Moscoso as a rotation option as well, Bob Geren said today. The A’s quietly acquired Moscoso from the Rangers this winter in exchange for Minor League hurler Ryan Kelly, and Geren noted he looked good in his bullpen yesterday.
It appears the Opening Day starter is just as unclear as the fifth starter. Last year, Geren essentially named Ben Sheets his OD starter on the same day he was introduced at a press conference. This year, though, Geren has four quality options. He said he’s considering Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden all as possibilities for the club’s season-opening contest against the Mariners. He explained that you could make strong cases for all those guys — Cahill was an All-Star, Braden threw a perfect game and has OD experience, and Anderson and Gonzalez are both considered to have the best stuff of the staff. That being said, don’t expect an official announcement for quite some time. Geren wants to watch how each of them progress throughout the spring and if any endure a setback. He doesn’t so much consider who the team is facing because, within a week, rotations are usually altered anyway due to off days, injuries, postponements and the sort. I’d suspect Cahill gets the edge here, but all four are deserving of what’s considered to be an honor in baseball. What’s your take?
When asked about David DeJesus, Geren said he’d like to keep the outfielder in the No. 2 and 3 spots because of his consistent ability to reach base. On days when DeJesus is placed in the third spot, Daric Barton would obviously be penciled into the No. 2 hole. However, if DeJesus batted second, Geren said he’d consider moving Barton down into the middle of the lineup. Either way, Geren still views Coco Crisp as the team’s leadoff hitter, so don’t expect to see DeJesus there unless Crisp is out of the lineup. Like the Opening Day starter situation, Geren said he’s thought of lineup scenarios but really hasn’t drawn out anything concrete. Considering Oakland’s injury-prone ways, it makes sense for Geren to play the wait-and-see game this spring.
On a fun note, several A’s players have entered camp with happy news from home. Bobby Cramer and Josh Donaldson both got engaged within the last two weeks, and Joey Devine and Kurt Suzuki are each anticipating the arrival of a first-born child with their wives this year. I spoke to Cramer for a lengthy time today, and he was telling me that he and his fiance, Kaylynn, have chosen to skip the beach for their honeymoon in favor of a month and a half-long road trip around the U.S. in a motor home. Cramer hasn’t seen much of the country, including New York City, so he’s anxious to visit several places. Pretty cool, right? You can read more about Cramer and his fight for the fifth starter spot here.
Position players officially report in three days. Whether Hideki Matsui arrives before then is unknown, but several Japanese reporters have been eagerly awaiting his arrival. I’ll catch up with you from camp tomorrow…