May 2011

Relaxed Geren shares some laughs

Bob Geren had a little fun with reporters in his pregame media session this morning, providing some humor while even indirectly touching on the “lack of communication” fuss that surfaced around his club this week.

In light of Wednesday’s 19-inning affair between the Phillies and Reds that ended with Philadelphia second baseman Wilson Valdez as the winning pitcher, Geren was questioned about position players with whom he would feel comfortable placing on the mound in such a situation.

“What about Matsui pitching?” a reporter asked.

Geren smiled, looking around at the Japanese reporters, and said, “That would be a good story. Then the follow-up question would be, ‘Has he thrown a bullpen at all?'”

At this point, another reporter slipped in a “And what about his role?”

Geren, who could have easily ignored the playful remark, instead proceeded to laugh and take it even further.

“Yea, and have I told him?” he joked.

Multiple laughs ensued. And Geren, having some fun following a rather rough week, said, “That’s awesome.”

Tension remains around A’s clubhouse

Update:

When asked about the team’s pregame meeting after Wednesday’s loss, Ryan Sweeney played the cautious route with his words but confirmed it was a positive one, “trying to put everything behind us.”

“Ultimately you gotta play,” Sweeney said. “Whatever happens on or off the field, you gotta just come together as a team and play.

“It’s not like it was a surprise. Everybody saw it on TV I think. It might have been a little awkward in here, but I think everyone is trying to move past it and try to play baseball and have fun.”

That’s it, then?

“There was other stuff,” he admitted, “but I’m not gonna say what it was.”

—–

Original post:

A few A’s players sat around the visiting clubhouse television on Wednesday afternoon while MLB Network revisited the Fuentes-Geren situation after former A’s reliever Huston Street, now with the Rockies, was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday saying:

“Bob was never good at communication, and I don’t want to speak for anybody else, but it was a sentiment reflected in many conversations during the two years I spent in Oakland, and even recently when talking to guys after I left. For me personally, he was my least favorite person I have ever encountered in sports from age 6 to 27. I am very thankful to be in a place where I can trust my manager.”

MLB Network shared Street’s comments, all the while showing Street yelling at Geren in the dugout during a game in Detroit three years ago. Upon seeing this while walking by, an A’s player commented, “Can we turn this off already?”

Geren was asked about Street’s comments during his pregame media session and, following about eight seconds of silence, responded, “I don’t think it’s my place to comment on somebody on another team. I’d prefer to speak about my own team and my own players.”

Leftover tension is still very much present around this A’s team, whether anybody wants to admit it. Geren was very brief with his answers while holding court with reporters on Wednesday, and he didn’t offer anything when asked about a private team meeting that was held just minutes prior, only to confirm he was the one that called it.

Though it’s been speculated, I really don’t see Geren’s job in jeopardy at this point, and I’d suspect he’s allowed to finish the season in Oakland. Much of the fuss surrounding him will likely fade a bit, so long as the A’s start making more noise on the field than off. And for that to happen, Geren’s club needs to start winning.

Finally, owner Lew Wolff made an appearance at Angel Stadium on Wednesday. Read what he had to say about Geren here.

Fuentes criticizes “unorthodox managing”

Fuentes’ communication with reporters following tonight’s game:

What did you think of the situation you were placed in tonight?

Fuentes: It’s surprising yet not surprising all at the same time.

How do you feel with the way the manager has handled you as a reliever?

Fuentes: Pretty poorly.

How much communication do you have with him?

Fuentes: Zero.

Why is it pretty poorly?

Fuentes: There’s just no communication. Two games, on the road, bring the closer in a tied game, with no previous discussions of doing so. And then, tonight, in the seventh inning, I get up. I haven’t stretched, I haven’t prepared myself. If there was some communication beforehand I would be ready to come into the game  – which I was, when I came into the game, I was ready. Just lack of communication. I don’t think anybody really knows which direction he’s headed.

How much different is this compared to past managers?

Fuentes: It’s a pretty drastic difference.

What goes through your mind when the phone rings in the seventh tonight?

Fuentes: I thought he misspoke. I thought it was some sort of miscommunication, but he said, ‘No, you’re up,’ so I got up and cranked it up. You can’t try to guess along with them. Very unpredictable.

At the beginning of the season, did he tell you that you were the closer?

Fuentes: Yes, from get go, I’ve been closing.

In regards to communication, is that something that oughta change?

Fuentes: It should. It’s not my decision. I can’t predict the future. If he decides to take that step, then there will be communication. If not, I’ll make sure I’m ready from the first.

Does there need to be a “clear the air” meeting?

Fuentes: Some people might think so. At this point I have nothing to say.

Has this been boiling up or is it just recent?

Fuentes: Just recent, really. I think the games in San Francisco were some unorthodox managing. I thought it was maybe the National league thing, that maybe that had something to do with it, but tonight was pretty unbelievable.

A’s lose backend of rotation

About to head down to the clubhouse, but here’s a quick breakdown of today’s flurry of moves:

DL-bound: RHP Tyson Ross (left oblique strain), RHP Brandon McCarthy (stress reaction in right scapula)

Promoted: RHP Joey Devine, RHP Fautino De Los Santos, LHP Jerry Blevins

Optioned: RHP Trystan Magnuson

What this means: The A’s have suddenly lost 2/5 of their rotation after having already lost Dallas Braden for the year. None of the guys who were called up today are starters, meaning more moves are on the way come Monday, when that fourth spot comes up in the rotation in Anaheim. Still, the A’s desperately needed bullpen arms after watching Ross go down in the first, which paved the way for 8 2/3 innings worth of relief work.

Noteworthy Triple-A Sacramento numbers:

  • Devine: 3-0, 0.00 ERA; 12 1/3 innings, 17 strikeouts, 1 walk
  • De Los Santos: 0-0, 0.00 ERA; 6 innings, 6 strikeouts, 4 walks
  • Blevins: 0-0, 15.75 ERA; 4 innings, 7 runs, 7 hits

Update on Cramer

It doesn’t look like Bobby Cramer is an ideal callup option for the A’s in the event they place Tyson Ross on the disabled list. Cramer is also on the DL with a lower back strain and is eligible to be reinstated Sunday, I’m told. He could potentially still be ready for Tuesday’s start in Anaheim, but I’m not sure the A’s are going to want their fifth rotation spot filled by someone who’s just coming off an injury. That means they’re  likely to take a closer look at Josh Outman, Guillermo Moscoso or possibly Travis Banwart, who is 1-2 with a 2.93 ERA in seven games — six starts — for the River Cats.

The day hasn’t exactly gotten any better for the A’s, who are down 10-1 in the eighth inning. David Purcey, who relieved  Ross in the first, went 3 2/3 innings, using 66 pitches along the way. The most he had thrown in a single outing this season prior to today was 22. Rookie Trystan Magnuson just threw 50, meaning both those guys won’t be available tomorrow. Even if Ross isn’t DL’d right away, I’d imagine the A’s would need to call up a pitcher for tomorrow’s game in San Francisco in the event Trevor Cahill endures a short outing.

Ross out with left oblique strain; who takes his spot?

Righty Tyson Ross exited his seventh start today after making just seven pitches with what the A’s deemed a left oblique strain. Should Ross hit the disabled list, the A’s are likely to bring up one of the following guys:

  • Bobby Cramer: 0-0, 4.60 ERA – He started the season on the A’s roster as a long-relief option in the bullpen but was rarely used. He’s made four starts with Triple-A Sacramento since his demotion, allowing 14 hits (including three home runs) and eight runs with six walks and 18 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. He’s scheduled to start for the River Cats tonight, so he’d be on turn if called up.
  • Josh Outman: 4-1, 4.78 ERA – Outman was considered the leading candidate for the fifth rotation spot at the start of Spring Training and he appeared well on his way to returning to ’09 form following more than a year of Tommy John rehab. But he lost all feel for mechanics and command and was sent down to work on those things. I’ve heard he’s coming along nicely, especially with his breaking ball and velocity, but the command is still a little rusty.
  • Guillermo Moscoso: 3-2, 4.02 ERA – Acquired via trade with the Rangers, he spent most of last season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he was 7-7 with a 5.18 ERA in 23 games, 22 starts. He struggled in big league camp but has since posted 43 strikeouts next to just 13 walks in 40 1/3 innings in Sacramento.

Braden to undergo shoulder surgery

The A’s just announced that Dallas Braden will undergo surgery Monday to repair a torn capsule in his left shoulder.  Recovery time will be determined following the procedure, to be performed by Dr. David Altchek (medical director of the Mets) in New York City.

Magnuson recalled, Blevins optioned

The A’s just announced they’ve called up righty Trystan Magnuson from Triple-A Sacramento and optioned left-hander Jerry Blevins. Magnuson, part of the Rajai Davis trade this winter, had a 1.56 ERA with three saves in 12 relief appearances for the River Cats, allowing just eight hits while striking out 19 over 17 1/3 innings. He also walked nine but limited opponents to a .138 average. This marks his first stay in the big leagues.

Blevins, meanwhile, had posted a team-high 4.61 ERA in 14 relief appearances, walking 12 and fanning 13 in 13 2/3 innings. Many of you are wondering why Magnuson and not Joey Devine, who’s been throwing extremely well for Sacramento. I’m sure the A’s want to make sure that when they bring up Devine he’s up for good, and at this point the righty is probably still building up arm strength, given the fact he’s only been pitching for a couple of weeks.

More to come on this news later at the A’s site.

Cahill’s numbers, plus more on Willingham

In the midst of Oakland’s 7-2 victory over the Rangers last night, righty Trevor Cahill improved to 6-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.72. Elias had this to say about those numbers, courtesy of the A’s PR department:

  • Cahill is the first A’s starting pitcher to start a season by winning his first six decisions since Dave Stewart did it in each of three straight seasons from 1988 to 1990.
  • Cahill is also the first A’s pitcher to go 6-0 or better coupled with a sub-2.00 ERA in his first eight starts of a season since Sam Grey went 8-0 with a 1.43 ERA in his first eight starts for Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s in 1925.

—————-

Also thanks to the A’s PR staff, here is Major League Baseball’s official explanation on the procedure for Willingham’s appeal:

If a player is going to be in New York within 30 calendar days he has the right to ask for an in-person appeal. Otherwise, any position player with a suspension of three games or less will have to appeal heard via video conference. The video conferencing system is set up at all 30 ballparks. Every attempt will be made to schedule the hearing within the next 10 days.

The A’s are not in New York until June 21 for the start of a three-game set against the Mets, so I’d imagine Willingham will have to take part in the video conference.

Sweeney starts, Willingham sits

A handful of pregame notes:

  • Ryan Sweeney is making his seventh start of the season tonight, as Bob Geren wants to keep him fresh while also easing Josh Willingham back since he missed a couple of games last week because of back tightness. Sweeney is 1-for-10 lifetime against Tribe starter Fausto Carmona, while Willingham — hitting .333 with two home runs and six RBIs over his past nine games — is 0-for-5 in his career against the righty.
  • Dallas Braden is scheduled to make another trip to Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles tomorrow. Geren wasn’t too sure which tests were done the first time around on April 20 or which ones are to be done on Wednesday, but it’s safe to say that, at this point, they’ll do anything they can in an effort to get clearer answers on Braden’s mystery shoulder. Braden’s been rather down since the injury and hasn’t spoken with media since its onset, so I’m sure he’d like a better understanding of what’s going on more than anyone else, and it’d be nice to see him get it so he can move on with the proper rehab.
  • Andy LaRoche was back at third base again, and Geren again said he’ll keep him in the lineup so long as he keeps swinging the bat well. “I’m giving Kouz time to keep working,” he said. “He’ll get back in there, too. Everybody will get their opportunities.”

A’s lineup: Crisp CF, Barton 1B, DeJesus RF, Matsui DH, Suzuki C, Sweeney LF, Ellis 2B, LaRoche 3B, Pennington SS

Indians lineup: Sizemore CF, Cabrera SS, Choo RF, Santana C, Duncan DH, Brantley 1B, LaPorta LF, Hannahan 3B, Everett 2B

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