Results tagged ‘ Jack Cust ’

Postgame quick hits: An absent offense

Jack Cust’s struggles were mentioned in my previous post, but he’s not the only one battling at the plate right now, as evidenced by tonight’s three-hit showing against Minnesota’s Brian Duensing. Cust’s troubles just happen to stand out more because of his lack of run-scoring production, not to mention 28 strikeouts over his last 16 games. He’s obviously in a funk, but here’s a look at some other slumping players:

  • Cust may be streaky, but Kevin Kouzmanoff may be even streakier. He’s hitting just .136 (6-for-44) in August, which follows a combined .306 mark in June and July after hitting .244 in April and May.
  • Kurt Suzuki is hitting .192 (10-for-52) over his last 14 games after going 17-for-42 over his previous 11 contests. Overall, his season average is down to .255 — not exactly what the A’s are looking to get out of their catcher. He also hasn’t hit a home run since July 28, and Oakland as a team is currently in a six-game homerless stretch.
  • Mark Ellis, aside from his three-double day Thursday, has also been racking up outs lately. He’s batting .219 over his last 21 games but has still managed to maintain a .270 season average. Needless to say, his production’s been average this year, but you can’t discount his value to the team given his defensive ways — he’s committed just one error at second base all year.
  • Chris Carter came up empty again tonight, and he’s now 0-for-16 with seven strikeouts in his first five games. He really just needs one hit, I think, to get into a groove of sorts. In order to do that, though, he’s got to lay off those sliders, which aren’t exactly making him look good up there.

The good news? Tomorrow is a day game, and we all know how much the A’s like the sun. They’ve won 11 of their past 12 day games and are a Major League-best 28-11 (.718) during the day. 

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. 

Injury news: Buck, Stassi, Meloan

2 p.m. I just learned that outfielder Travis Buck was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup due to dizziness in Surprise, Ariz., where the A’s are playing a split-squad game against the Royals. He was replaced in right field by Corey Brown, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI ground-rule double, two runs, a stolen base and a walk.

Buck is 1-for-5 at the plate in three games this spring and is fighting for an outfield spot along with Eric Patterson and Gabe Gross. He has made the A’s Opening Day roster in each of the last three seasons, but four stints on the disabled list and options to Sacramento in each of the last two years have limited him to just 156 games in that time at the Major League level. He does have a history of head problems, as he suffered a severe concussion in 2008 in Triple-A and also collided with Chris Denorfia last year in Sacramento. 

5:30 p.m.: Manager Bob Geren had no news on Buck, so I’m assuming he’ll be good to go tomorrow, but if I hear anything differently come morning, I’ll keep you updated.

In other injury news, 18-year-old catching prospect Max Stassi left the A’s game against the Rangers in Phoenix in the ninth inning with a right knee contusion after getting hit by a foul ball. The injury came just two frames after Stassi hit his first homer of the spring. “The baseball gods are funny like that,” he said after the game.

Stassi doesn’t think he’ll be game-ready again for about a week, so the next time he sees action will apparently be in Minor League camp, considering he noted that “the bad thing is I’m going down tomorrow.” Geren hasn’t said anything about cuts, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if some were made tomorrow considering Minor League camp is officially underway.

6 p.m. Also just got word that right-handed pitcher John Meloan left the game in Surprise accompanied by a trainer in the eighth inning with a 1-0 count on the batter. Will hopefully have more information on him first thing tomorrow.

Another note from that game: Jack Cust hit a ball over the right-field wall that bounced on the sidewalk over the fence across the four-lane street on one hop and into the water park.

A source who was at the game says the homer was the “farthest anyone can remember seeing a ball hit here.”
 

Rickey comes to town

That’s right, Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson will be in A’s camp tomorrow as a special instructor for base running and is scheduled to stay through Tuesday. So if you’re in the area and want to capture Rickey tutoring the youngins, he’ll be at Papago through Monday before heading over to Phoneix Muni with the team on Tuesday. Most everybody — at least anyone expected to steal a base this season — is expected to get some work in with him.

Brett Anderson and Vin Mazzaro were among the A’s pitchers who threw live BP today, although most hitters just stood in without swinging — as is the norm on the first day — just to get a feel for the ball coming out of the pitcher’s hand. I talked to several of Mazzaro’s teammates who said the righty looked “fantastic.” He said he threw all his pitches and really felt comfortable out there, so don’t count him out just yet for the fifth rotation spot, although he’ll have to put up big numbers this spring to out-duel Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez.

Michael Taylor put on quite a show while taking some swings in the cage today. He hit a monster homer but then was robbed of another after Jack Cust jumped up to grab the long ball…more live BP to come tomorrow, barring any big rainstorms.

Jacks back, Kouzmanoff arrives

Jack Cust was welcomed back to Oakland with open arms– literally — upon his return to the A’s clubhouse on reporting day at Phoenix Muni. Within seconds of his arrival, he was flanked by teammates, hugs and plenty shouts. Not to be forgotten, though, was newcomer Kevin Kouzmanoff, who quietly entered his first day with the A’s. He spoke to media within an hour upon his arrival and talked about his excitement in joining a new team, as well as how he’s transformed into one of the game’s most respected defensive third basemen. More on both Cust and Kouzmanoff can be found at the A’s site.

Some leftover tidbits from the day:

Justin Duchscherer looked just as happy as he did yesterday when he was still under the influence of some drugs from his nerve ablation procedure Tuesday. This time, though, he was simply excited to wake up and realize the pain in his sacroiliac joint area is no more. Duke threw 35 tosses at 80 feet and afterward said he felt fine.

Bob Geren said left-hander Lenny DiNardo did some throwing today and is now working on a sidearm motion with bullpen coach Ron Romanick to expand his look.

Full-squad workouts are officially underway tomorrow at Papago Park starting at 9:45. Brett Anderson, Vin Mazzaro and Brad Ziegler among pitchers scheduled to throw live BP. Updates from there to come tomorrow…

Wednesday warmups

11:20 a.m.: Not much news out of A’s camp this morning when we met with Bob Geren, so we spent most of his pre-stretch media session talking about some of the intricacies of the game, which brought up the memorable base running blunders in the 2003 playoffs against the Red Sox. Always good to get Geren animated and out of his shell a bit. Anyways, some morning tidbits for you:

Justin Duchscherer, who underwent a nerve ablation process to alleviate pain in his SI joint yesterday, showed up in the clubhouse this morning very much still out of it, but said he’ll come out tomorrow and see how he feels. He’s only a couple days behind the other pitchers, so he’s not too worried about the setback. “I have six weeks,” he said.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser asked Jake Fox this morning if he had any options left. Us media had been told that Fox did have an option left, but come to find out he actually doesn’t. That very much changes the complexity of camp regarding bench spots. If Eric Chavez calls it a career this spring, Fox’s spot on the roster is pretty much guaranteed. But if Chavez deems himself healthy for the season, Fox’s future might not be so certain. The team would like to have Adam Rosales around to spell the middle infielders, so Fox’s chances of making the team will heavily depend on Chavez. If the A’s want to send him to the Minors, he must first clear waivers. Same for Eric Patterson, who was consider the team’s only player out of options before this Fox news surfaced today.

Left-hander Lenny DiNardo, who has been dealing with a strained arch in his left foot, is “50 percent better than yesterday,” Geren said. At the pace he’s going, the manager said DiNardo should be out and about again in a day or two.

BP just got underway, and it looks like Travis Buck and Daric Barton are among those getting some hacks in today. Rajai Davis flew in from Connecticut yesterday and made his first appearance today, leaving just a couple position players left to report. Official reporting date for position players is tomorrow. Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jack Cust are two of the big names yet to be seen around camp yet…

Sheets, Damon on As radar

All those thinking the A’s rotation is
the one area need not be touched heading into Spring Training, think again.
Recent reports are pointing toward a possible Ben Sheets signing in Oakland.

The 31-year-old free agent, who missed
all of 2009 because of elbow surgery, threw a pitching session in front of
several scouts and team officials — including those from Oakland — on Jan. 19
at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. His fastball topped out at 92 mph,
and his curveball was highly affective.

Now, almost one week later, the A’s are
apparently very much still interested despite Sheets’ desire for a guaranteed
$8 million in 2010. And while Billy Beane declined to comment, citing his
policy against discussing free agents, multiple reports say Oakland is
definitely in the mix. Other teams reportedly in a bidding war for the
right-hander include the Mets and Rangers.

The A’s do have some money to spend,
and Sheets would not only offer the A’s an added veteran presence in a very
young rotation, but also provide the club with some trade bait (Gonzalez?
Mazzaro?) to aide in their efforts in landing a power-hitting SS – the one area
on the field where depth is missing.

So while the Sheets interest may seem
somewhat of a head-scratcher at first glance, the notion doesn’t seem too crazy
upon further review – especially when Billy’s involved. However, the team is
also linked to an even stranger idea: Could Johnny Damon be back for a second
tour with the A’s if the Sheets signing doesn’t go down? Doesn’t quite make
much sense, but reports say it’s a definite maybe.

Last week at A’s Media Day, Geren
insisted he may have one of the best — if not, the best — defensive outfields
in the league with Davis in LF, Crisp in CF and Sweeney in RF. Damon’s not
exactly Gold Glove material out there, and he wouldn’t be much of a need at DH
either with Cust, Fox and (hopefully) Chavez already as options there.

Needless to say, the A’s roster could
be slapped with some changes by week’s end. Should be interesting to see how it
all plays out.

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