Results tagged ‘ Bob Geren ’

Saturday tidbits from Target Field

  • Jack Cust’s recent struggles were brought up during today’s pregame manager’s session, but Bob Geren really doesn’t seem all too concerned about his designated hitter. He took the positive route and mentioned his two hits last night. However, it’s really hard to ignore his strikeout looking on a 3-2 pitch with runners on second and third and just one out, which brings to mind the big picture of his recent producing slump. His third-inning RBI double in last night’s game was his first RBI in 14 games. It’s pretty well-known by now that Cust is a streaky hitter — he had 15 RBIs over his previous 10 games before that ugly stretch. But your DH, especially one who often hits in the No. 4 hole, has to be notching those hits with runners in scoring position. Geren, though, sees nothing wrong with his current approach.
  • Chris Carter told me today he’s not too worried about his career-opening hitless streak. Geren isn’t either. In fact, the A’s skipper said today, “He’s going to have a good day today. He looks confident.” We shall see, but either way, it’s still fun watching Carter get a taste of the big leagues. He said today he loves “playing in stadiums with fans” and added, “I’m not used to being in an outfield where fans are yelling at me.” I didn’t want to break the news to him that he might not see so many next week in Oakland…
  • Geren said Andrew Bailey will throw a bullpen tomorrow, and the next step for him — whether it’s another bullpen, a simulated game, a rehab assignment, etc. — will be determined by how he feels coming out of the side session. He did say, though, that a rehab assignment may not be necessary, so — assuming all goes well tomorrow — Bailey could be lifted off the DL at some point on the next homestand.
  • It seems as though there’s really no rush in getting Conor Jackson back in Oakland. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and strikeout while playing nine innings for Sacramento last night, and he was slated to play nine more for the River Cats tonight. Geren simply said he’ll be back when he’s ready. I don’t think Jackson’s presence will be a difference-maker for this club right now, but it’d be nice to see what he can do after only playing in 14 games with the A’s following the trade. At the same time, given Oakland’s injury history, it’s probably best to take it slowly with Jackson. His return would also create quite an interesting outfield situation, especially with Carter now in the mix. 

Rosales exits with ankle injury

Adam Rosales made an early departure from Wednesday’s game after aggravating the ankle injury that’s been bothering him this week. Rosales told me Monday he’s been battling ankle tendinitis for about a year now, but only recently has it really affected him on the field. When I ran into him today, I said his ankle must be feeling better if he’s in the lineup. He shrugged with a smile, saying, “It’s playable.” Yet, after Geren deemed him “100 percent” and “ready to go” before the game, Rosales lasted just one inning. Hopefully this signals a need to get it completely taken care of before running him out there again. The A’s don’t need to crowd the DL any more.

Note: Geren also said before the game Gabe Gross turned his ankle and is a little sore but is still available. Gross hasn’t appeared in a game since Sunday, when he walked in a pinch-hit at-bat.

Dribblers: Injury updates and more

SEATTLE — Chris Carter’s promotion and Don Wakamatsu’s dismissal have created lots of commotion around these parts today. That doesn’t mean all other news stopped, though. Here’s some updates from beautiful Safeco Field, where Carter just went down on a swinging strikeout in his first at-bat:

  • Andrew Bailey (rib strain) endured a good side session from flat ground today, Geren said. No word yet, though, on when he’ll begin throwing off a mound.
  • It sounds like Daric Barton (shoulder spasms) should be good to go tomorrow.
  • Adam Rosales said he’s available tonight if need be. He’s suffered from ankle tendinitis for the past year, but it only recently started bugging him after the All-Star Break. Nothing major, though.
  • Conor Jackson (right hamstring) played 3 innings in Arizona on Sunday, and Geren said there were “no issues,” so he’s slated to play 5 today.
  • Matt Watson underwent an operation this morning to remove the kidney stones that were causing him severe side and back pain yesterday. Geren wasn’t sure how long his recovery process will be.

This and that:

  • Carter is widely known as being a shy personality, but today he surprised all by responding to questions with answers other than “yes” or “no.” You can tell he’s so psyched to be here, and it’s fun watching him go through the big league routine for the first time. Geren wouldn’t go into much detail — if any — regarding his playing time, but I would imagine the A’s would like to give him a long look in the outfield. I don’t think they want that kind of power sitting on the bench.
  • Jeff Larish, meanwhile, is also pretty shy, I’ve heard. But, just like Carter, I found him to be rather nice and respectful. Sounds like he was looking for a change of scenery and, while he told me it’s been a crazy couple weeks for him, he said he’s genuinely excited to be here with a young bunch. He went to Arizona State, so he knows fellow Sun Devil Travis Buck pretty well. He’s also friends with Eric Sogard, who was a freshman at ASU when he was a senior.
  • One final note, Adrian Cardenas was promoted from Double-A Midland to Sacramento today, and for good reason. He had reached base safely in 46 of his past 50 games and was hitting .347 over that stretch.

Sheets, Bailey and crickets, oh my

Maybe Sheets won’t be retiring after all…at least that’s the impression I got after he spent some time chatting from Louisiana with reporters today. He understands he’s 32 and, with another flexor tendon surgery, likely wouldn’t be able to return to the field until the 2012 season. But this guy has a real love for the game- you saw it on the field with his fiery mound demeanor, and I had the privilege of seeing it off the field in the clubhouse. So even though I said yesterday it wouldn’t surprise me if he opted for retirement, which I still don’t think is out of the question, I should have added that it wouldn’t surprise me if he underwent another procedure. If he forgoes the surgery, I’d love to see him coaching – not necessarily at the big league level but perhaps college or even a Little League team. He’d be awesome in that role – he loves to win, and he knows how to do it while having fun. Plus he’s got two boys of his own, and he seems to be great with them. Ben said he plans to be around the A’s clubhouse next week and for much of the rest of the season, so I’m sure he’ll keep us updated on what’s in store for his future.

In other news, Andrew Bailey is proving that the injury bug is still alive and well in the A’s clubhouse. All reports indicated his back was improving, and he even said yesterday he could “probably” pitch in a game if need be. But today Geren said he’s still day-to-day, and I’m wondering if the A’s would be best suited to give him time on the DL to fully recover. After all, back injuries should not be messed with – just ask Eric Chavez. Brett Anderson will officially be activated from the DL to start against Chicago on Friday, so the A’s could potentially place Bailey on the DL tomorrow and, in the meantime, simply hand over his roster spot to Anderson. Then again, they just might wait it out with Bailey, as they did with Mark Ellis and Conor Jackson before finally sending them to the DL. Either way, this isn’t time to sport a depleted bullpen. Craig Breslow and Michael Wuertz have already been handed a large work load this week, and the A’s can’t expect to run them out there every single night.

On a slightly less serious note, I personally can’t wait to get out of Texas, where flying – yes, flying – crickets have taken over. They’re on the field, in the dugout, in the press box, in the parking lot, in my dreams….everywhere. And they’re nasty little things. Well, they’re actually pretty big. Anyway, Chicago may be just as warm as Texas, but I can manage so long as crickets aren’t involved.

Sheets out for year with torn flexor tendon

The worst possible scenario was confirmed Wednesday when Bob Geren announced that Ben Sheets will
miss the remainder of the season with a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow.

According to
the A’s skipper, a second elbow surgery — the first caused him to miss all of
2009 — has not been scheduled, and there was no indication that one will be in
the near future. Sheets will be a free agent at the end of the year, so he
could potentially choose to elect retirement rather than face another procedure
and the process of finding a team.

Nothing of
the sorts has been determined, though. After all, the news was just settling in
with Geren, who has already watched Justin Duchscherer and Ryan Sweeney go down
to season-ending surgeries.

.

“He’ll be
missed both on the field and off the field,” he said. “He’s been a great teammate
for a lot of the young guys. A lot of them looked up to him for his
competitiveness and, off the field, he was just a pleasant guy to be around.”

Sheets, who
posted at least six innings in each of his last 14 starts, was initially placed
on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a strained right elbow following a
pair of outings that brought about inflammation in his troubled elbow.

Surprisingly,
the A’s pitcher — who missed all of 2009 following elbow surgery — put
together rather impressive numbers during those starts, which resulted in just
a combined two runs. But those numbers, no matter how they read in a box score,
didn’t say as much as the one that read on the radar gun, Sheets insisted at
the time.

“I was still
successful with the diminished velocity,” he said. “It didn’t fool me, but I
was still able to pitch. When I knew my stuff wasn’t there, I knew it wasn’t
going away. … Swelling’s no good. I know that. Your arm just don’t swell.
Things just don’t swell for no reason.”

Sheets also
expressed that at no point this season did he feel a strong progression toward
his old self, the one that was a four-time National League All-Star while with
Milwaukee. He was 4-9 with a 4.53 ERA in 20 starts for the A’s and has allowed
an American League-leading 57 extra-base hits.

“The whole
year’s been frustrating,” he said. “From where I was before spring, it’s never
really taken any jumps you always hear about. To say I felt good for extended
periods of time would be false. I felt good here and there — a couple innings
here, a couple innings there, but nothing sustained throughout the year.”

With lefty Brett
Anderson’s impending return to the mound Friday in Chicago, the A’s still boast
five healthy starters, the other four being Trevor Cahill, Dallas Braden, Gio
Gonzalez and Vin Mazzaro.

Fifth starter competition still going strong

For about 30 seconds today, I thought the battle for the fifth starter competition was done. Dead. Finished. Not by an out-dueling performance, but rather by default.

Gio Gonzalez silenced the press box during the first inning of Monday’s game when he signaled for a trainer with a 3-1 count against Franklin Gutierrez with a runner on first and one out. Gonzalez was also joined by manager Bob Geren, battery mate Jake Fox and the umpire, as he appeared to rub his eyes. He was then given a glass of water before he went back to work and managed to force an inning-ending double play ball. Furthermore, he went on to toss 6 1/3 innings of solid three-hit ball while allowing just one run (on a wild pitch) and walking three and striking out four.

So the big question of the day involved the contents of the mentioned cup of water. Turns out Gonzalez experienced a sudden migraine and simply popped two Tylenol to take care of what he described as an “explosion in my brain.”

“My right eye just started closing in on me,” he said. “They were telling me it was going to take 15 minutes for the aspirin to kick in, but I said with the adrenaline I have right now, it will probably take less than two minutes.”

Try two seconds. Gonzalez looked like a completely different pitcher after the unusual visit and quickly disregarded any thought I conjured about him surrendering the rotation spot to Trevor Cahill. He said he had never experienced any sort of migraine and was surprised by its sudden presence.

“I felt fine in the bullpen and warming up,” he said, “and then after that first pitch to Ichiro it was like ‘woah.’ That was definitely a first for me.”

Gonzalez followed up the first with a 1-2-3 second, including strikeouts to Milton Bradley and Ken Griffey Jr., before allowing Rob Johnson to score in the third on the wild pitch and loading the bases in the fourth. However, he got Griffey to pop out and then forced a double play groundball off the bat of Jose Lopez to escape the jam.

“That was huge,” he said. “It was after that my confidence just skyrocketed, and I started throwing first pitch strikes to everyone. I was excited about that, and it felt like 100 pounds lifted off my shoulder.”

Gonzalez said he relied mainly on his fastball Monday while also getting a little work in on his changeup. He also kept in mind what he called the famous words of Joey Devine: “Let it eat.”

“So that’s exactly what I was doing,” he said.

Gonzalez is well aware of the rotation situation and hopes his impressive string of spring starts continues to make Geren’s decision a difficult one.

“I did enough to show them that I’m ready and that I feel great and feel strong,” he said. “The decision is up to them. I’m just grateful to be throwing a baseball and feel healthy.”

At the beginning of the game, Gonzalez appeared slightly nervous — but rightfully so, considering he’s on the roster bubble with seven days before Opening Night. After the game, though, he was just…Gio. He even joked about the Tylenol interruption.
 
“I’m going to do a commercial for them,” he said with a smile. “I really had it all planned out. That was all a commercial stunt, guys.”

Meanwhile, Cahill made a start in a Triple-A game over at the A’s Minor League complex. He said he gave up two runs — including a homer — in six innings and basically described his outing as “nothing great, nothing bad.”

Like Gonzalez, he’s been fine tuning his changeup all spring and mentioned it’s still not working as well as last year but sees it coming around pretty quickly.

In general, Cahill evokes a much more relaxed personality than Gonzalez, and it definitely shows on and off the mound. They’re two very completely different pitchers, and I think that’s what’s making this competition so much fun to watch. It seems the general consensus is that Gonzalez boasts the best natural stuff of the two — possibly even of the entire staff — but just can’t keep his composure and command in check to bring it out consistently. Then there’s Cahill, who has a devastating sinker but otherwise average stuff. Yet the maturity and composure he brings with him to the mound, especially at the age of 22, elevates that average stuff to a different level.

In my mind, Cahill had the edge entering camp — and still does. But I have to say Gonzalez is very much still in the mix and is greatly impressing the club right now. I also can’t see him starting the year at Triple-A — he’s too good for that. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine the A’s keeping him in the bullpen. So now it’s just a wait-and-see type thing, and you can bet Geren won’t make an announcement until he absolutely has to this weekend.

No word on whether Gonzalez or Cahill will start the game Saturday in Oakland, but they’ll both presumably be pitching then against the visiting Giants. Curious to hear your thoughts on which one will be starting against the Angels in Anaheim on April 9…  

Duke struggles with command in second outing

From Surprise, Ariz., where the A’s just lost 14-12 to the Royals in a rather lengthy spring game…

Justin Duchscherer’s second spring start didn’t exactly lead to the best of results. In fact, the right-hander couldn’t even tally the five ups and downs he set out to get after throwing four shutout innings in his first outing. He lasted three frames (and faced four batters in the fourth inning) while surrendering nine hits, 11 runs (8 earned), no walks – but hit a batter — and struck out one.

“I was throwing decent pitches,” Duchscherer said. “I was just missing and getting myself in bad counts. My mentality is in Spring Training I’m not going to start walking guys, so when I was behind I was throwing pitches over the plate.

“My stuff isn’t quite there yet, and I can’t pitch over the white. So they took advantage of getting ahead in the count, and I gave them some pretty good pitches to hit. I wanted to get up and down five times, but I didn’t quite do that.”

The Royals pretty much took batting practice off Duchscherer in the first and third innings, scoring a combined seven runs — including a three-run homer off the bat of Mitch Maier. In the fourth, a few infield singles, plus a catching error by Daric Barton at first base, led to a bases loaded situation. Duchscherer then allowed a single through the hole at shortstop to bring in yet another run before being replaced by Edwar Ramirez.

The A’s righty, who missed all of last year due to elbow surgery and a bout with clinical depression, was sidelined most of camp after undergoing a nerve ablation procedure to relieve pain in his lower back. Duchscherer insists he wasn’t in any pain during the game, mentioning “he “felt physically better today,” but rather reiterated his lack of command.

“I got behind guys and then attacked the zone, but for me attacking the zone isn’t white,” he said. “Rather than walk guys, I’d rather say, hey, if you’re going to beat me, beat me by hitting the ball.”

Duchscherer threw 73 pitches and was hoping to toss 80, but “the innings I pitched were kind of long. Cautiously, they don’t want me to throw too many in too short a time,” he said.

He’ll have one more start, in which he’s aiming to throw 85 pitches, before entering the season with what he hopes is a “crisper ball” and “sharper movement.” He reached 86 miles per hour — which is slightly short of what he deemed his “87, 88, 89″ midseason form.

“I don’t want to go out there and do what I did,” Duchscherer said. “I don’t want to get my butt kicked, but it is Spring Training and you have to get your work in, so as long as I get my body in a position where I can get six or seven innings, I think if I can get my pitch count to 85 next time, I should be able to go five or six.

“If I can do that, going into the season, I think the progression will be pretty much where it needs to be, and if I can get that sharpness and that extra little life on the ball and working those kinks out, that’s the goal.”

After the game, manager Bob Geren commented that Duchscherer ‘s command “wasn’t where it usually is.” And when asked not once but twice about his pitcher’s readiness for the season, Geren only responded by saying he has one more start left.

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mso-header-margin:.5in;
mso-footer-margin:.5inPersonally, I’m not reading too much into his vague comment, but at the same time it makes you wonder about the club’s belief in his ability to produce a quality outing right now after him missing so much time. A colleague of mine even joked that maybe we’ll be seeing Vin Mazzaro again very soon…

A’s send Mazzaro, Taylor, Carter to Minors

Vin Mazzaro, Michael Taylor and Chris Carter, all pretty significant pieces to the A’s future puzzle, were sent down Saturday morning. Here’s part of the story that will be up at the A’s site shortly:

The news of
Mazzaro didn’t come as much of a surprise after manager Bob Geren all but ruled
him out of the mix during his daily media session Saturday morning, during
which he was asked about the way the starter battle was shaping up.

“Both are
doing a nice job,” Geren said. “We’re going to hold off until the end to
decide.”

Both presumably referred to Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, but the A’s skipper
switched subjects before saying he would have more to discuss by the end of the
day.

Minutes
later, though, Mazzaro was found packing his bags, leaving little speculation
surrounding Geren’s hush answers.

“I’m going
to go down to the Minor Leagues and work hard and get back up here,” Mazzaro
said. “I felt I had done a pretty good job, but someone’s got to go, right?”

 With Mazzaro out of the picture, all eyes will
focus on Cahill and Gonzalez in the final week of camp as the A’s continue to
trim down their roster and set the starting rotation. Oakland now has 37
players remaining in camp, including three non-roster invitees, after sending down
Mazzaro, Carter and Taylor.

The latter
two, both watched closely this spring, could very well make their big league
debuts this year, Geren said. For the time being, though, the A’s are more than
set at first base and in the outfield. Daric Barton is enjoying a successful
spring at first, where Eric Chavez is also playing regularly. As for the
outfield, Oakland has several options in the form of Gabe Gross, Travis Buck,
Eric Patterson and Jake Fox.

The A’s won’t
soon forget about Taylor or Carter, though.

“Both are
very impressive young men, obviously both on the field and off,” Geren said. “They’re
both off the chart type players. They’re guys that can create their own
opportunities and dominate at this level. I let them know just that.”

__________________________

In other news: Both Andrew Bailey and Craig Breslow, both rehabbing from minor elbow setbacks, could potentially throw in a game Sunday or Monday. … Dallas Braden received an antibiotic prescription for the red, streaky bump he found on his left shin yesterday and is hoping it’s a bug bite. He should be good to go for his next start Wednesday.
 

Friday postgame notes

With the A’s playing split-squad games in Mesa and Surprise today, I decided to take the longer drive to Surprise not only because manager Bob Geren was headed to that game but because I hadn’t really seen Vin Mazzaro pitch this spring. At this point, it appears the fifth starter battle is going strong between Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez. I can’t say Mazzaro’s running in the same race, though. Today he was average and never really found a great rhythm, but he did face a pretty good Rangers lineup. Here’s what Mazzaro had to say following his start:

“I thought it went pretty well. There were some times when I lost the strike zone a little bit with the fastball but other than that I felt I threw the ball pretty well. Today was a good day and something I really needed to build the confidence going into the season.

You’d have to imagine it being slightly difficult going just two days after both Cahill and Gonzalez pitched well in the same game, but I think Mazzaro knew his situation heading into camp and really needed to step it up a notch this spring. He doesn’t have time to mess around with the strike zone, and unfortunately I think he’ll be fine tuning his command in Sacramento once the season starts. Scouts were so high on Mazzaro last year, and I’d be interested in hearing what they’ve seen from him since that time. He’ll be given one more start this spring…

Then there’s Dallas Braden. The dude deserves a break. While I was watching Mazzaro in Surprise, I was told Braden pitched six innings in Mesa after being told by a doctor this morning not to throw because he might have a staph infection. So I gave Braden a call, and he described a red, streaky bump on his calf that is right above his numb left foot. He’s always said he’d pitch until his foot was cut off, so he ignored the doc’s recommendation and pitched as planned. From the times I’ve talked with Braden, it seems he truly understands and appreciates the opportunity he’s been given in the big leagues, so he’s not about to let foot numbness or red bumps prevent him from doing what he loves and helping out his teammates. You can read the full story on Braden here at the A’s site. 

It’s Justin Duchscherer on the mound tomorrow against the Royals in Surprise. He’ll attempt to throw around 75 pitches in just his second start this spring…

Thursday pregame notes: Ellis back in lineup

First, your starting lineup against the host Giants here at Scottsdale Stadium: Davis CF, Barton 1B, Sweeney RF, Kouzmanoff 3B, Suzuki C, Ellis 2B, Buck LF, Pennington SS, Jennings SP

We’ll also see Michael Wuertz, Tyson Ross and newcomer Edwar Ramirez in action on the mound tonight.

Some pregame notes:

  • Mark Ellis is back in the lineup after missing two games with tight hamstrings.
  • Rajai Davis is in the leadoff spot tonight, but when Coco Crisp is in the lineup, expect the latter to lead off most times with Davis in the No. 2 hole. “I thought Raj did a real nice job in the second spot last year,” manager Bob Geren said.
  • Kurt Suzuki can be found in the fifth spot tonight, and Geren said he’d like to try him there for awhile with Ryan Sweeney batting third.
  • Andrew Bailey (elbow) said he is still slated to throw off the mound Saturday and hopes to be back in a game next week.
  • Geren will travel to Surprise tomorrow for the team’s split-squad game against the Rangers, while the rest  of the team will make the shorter trip to Mesa to face the Cubs. Vin Mazzaro is scheduled to go against Texas, and Dallas Braden will go in Mesa.
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