Results tagged ‘ Justin Duchscherer ’

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.

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-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…

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…

Duke starts, Crisp back in lineup

Lots of tidbits to share this morning, but first your starting lineup vs. the Mariners in Peoria:

Crisp DH, Barton 1B, Suzuki C, Kouz 3B, Sweeney RF, Patterson CF, Gross LF, Rosales 2B, Pennington SS, Duchscherer SP

  • Mark Ellis was scratched from today’s lineup due to tightness in both hamstrings. Adam Rosales is now in there playing second base. If there was ever such a thing as a good time for this kind of injury, it’s now – the A’s have tomorrow and most of Wednesday morning off before playing the Giants that night.
  • Brett Anderson was scheduled to make his fourth spring start Monday, but he woke up with neck stiffness so he’ll pitch in a Minor League game tomorrow. Therefore, Justin Duchscherer will not only make his first pitching appearance today, but he’ll make his first start since 2008. As a result, it appears the pitching rotation is taking form and could look something like this come Opening Day: Ben Sheets, Dallas Braden, Duchscherer, Anderson, [insert fifth starter]. That’s a nice R-L-R-L in the first four slots, and assuming Trevor Cahill grabs that last spot, another righty could fill the rotation. Anderson will pitch in the Double-A game tomorrow while Gio Gonzalez will get his work in at the Triple-A game over at Papago Park on the team’s scheduled off day.
  • As you can see, Coco Crisp is back in the lineup today after having been sidelined with a strained left hamstring March 10. Manager Bob Geren said both he and Rajai Davis will start Wednesday’s night game against the visiting Dodgers in the outfield, marking the first time all spring we could potentially be seeing the same outfield slated to start Opening Night.
  • The A’s have another night game Thursday at the Giants’ stadium in Scottsdale, where Jason Jennings will make his second start. Earlier in the day, Sheets will toss six innings in a Minor League game to “make sure he gets his six ups and downs in a controlled environment,” Geren said. 
  • Joey Devine, Craig Breslow and Andrew Bailey are all throwing today. Devine threw yesterday at 80 feet and said he’s going to attempt 100 feet this morning. The right-hander will then take Tuesday off and resume flat ground throwing Wednesday. He’s hoping to throw off the mound by the end of the week and resume his throwing program by next week. Meanwhile, Breslow and Bailey are slated to throw sides on Wednesday, which is good news for the recently injury-prone bullpen.
  • Not so good news came in the form of John Meloan’s elbow, which will require season-ending surgery. The 25-year-old righty pitched in just two games this spring for a total of 1 2/3 innings, in which he allowed four hits and two earned runs. He’ll soon visit with Dr. James Andrews, who has performed Tommy John surgery on a few current A’s players, including Bailey, Devine and Josh Outman.  

Inside the training room

The A’s sure made up for their off day Tuesday by providing plenty of news on the injury front first thing Wednesday morning. For those who can’t keep track of it all, here’s a quick rundown:

  • Andrew Bailey is out five to seven days with lateral epicondylitis, a condition usually caused by overuse that involves soreness on the outside of the upper arm near the elbow.
  • Craig Breslow will not throw two to four days as he treats medial tendinitis in his elbow.
  • Joey Devine was supposed to play catch for the first time in a week after experiencing tendinitis in his surgically repaired elbow, but he took another day off and will attempt to throw “free and easy” up to 80 feet on Thursday.
  • Justin Duchscherer tossed three innings (45 pitches) in a Minor League intrasquad game Wednesday morning and came out of it feeling great. He’s hoping to make his Cactus League debut Monday when the A’s travel to play the Mariners and believes he’ll be good to go come the start of the season.
  • Michael Wuertz has yet to pitch in a game and was scratched from his scheduled appearance in the same intrasquad game in which Duchscherer pitched. Manager Bob Geren said the right-hander’s shoulder isn’t bouncing back well, but after checking in with Wuertz this afternoon, it sounds like he could see game action as early as tomorrow. He mentioned he deals with this same shoulder issue every spring after getting in a lot of work the year before but believes 19 days (the time between now and Opening Day) is plenty of time to get on track.
  • Rajai Davis was a late scratch in Wednesday’s game due to what was announced as tenderness in his left quadriceps. He was replaced in center field by Eric Patterson.
  • Coco Crisp continues to progress with his strained left hamstring and is still following his throwing program to get his surgically repaired shoulder ready for Opening Day. Crisp has only seen time in the DH spot this spring.

That should do it. Hopefully I’ll hear more on Davis by the end of the day. The news about Bailey and Breslow took everyone by surprise this morning, but I think both will be back on the mound in no time. As for Wuertz, I wasn’t too convinced about him being Opening-Day ready, but after speaking with him, it sounds he’ll be just fine.

And not that there’s anything funny about either of Bailey or Breslow’s injuries, but I find it slightly amusing that both are experiencing elbow soreness at the same time. It was just a couple days ago I was joking with them that they seem to be attached at the hip. Wherever you see Bailey, usually Breslow is close by, and vice versa. Even during the offfseason, the two pitchers lived just 10 minutes from one another in Connecticut and worked out with each other almost every day. They’re also roommates here in Arizona…and now training room buddies.  

Monday morning tidbits

First, your starting lineup against the Reds in Goodyear, with Ben Sheets (who manager Bob Geren hopes will go four innings) scheduled to make his third start of the spring:

Davis CF
Ellis 2B
Suzuki C
Kouzmanoff 3B
Sweeney RF
Cust DH
Barton 1B
Fox LF
Rosales SS

Also scheduled to throw: Jennings, Ziegler, Rodriguez, Blevins, Hernandez, McBeth

Today will mark Kurt Suzuki’s first back-to-back start behind the plate, as Geren is beginning to get his projected starters gradually acclimated with playing on consecutive days. The team has a day off tomorrow, and Geren said you can expect to see a lot of the other regulars (Mark Ellis, Kevin Kouzmanoff, etc) start to play back-to-back days beginning Wednesday.

Dribblers: Geren noted that Coco Crisp is “progressing well” and is back to his throwing program. He should be returning to the lineup in the “near future,” Geren said. … Jason Jennings, who has suddenly put himself in a good position to battle for a roster spot, will start one of Oakland’s split-squad games (likely on the road against the Indians) on Saturday, when Sheets is slated to take the mound in the other game (at home versus the Cubs). Vin Mazzaro is also scheduled to throw that day as well. … Joey Devine, who is currently treating tendinitis in his surgically repaired pitching arm, is scheduled to throw what Geren deemed “light to medium” toss on Wednesday, the same day Justin Duchscherer is supposed to throw in a simulated game at 10 a.m. over at Papago Park’s Minor League facilities.     

The most recent A’s cuts: right-handed pitchers Clayton Mortensen (optioned to Triple-A) and Fautino De Los Santos (sent to Double-A) and left-hander Pedro Figueroa (also reassigned to Double-A). Meanwhile, Oakland offered Rule 5 pick Bobby Cassevah back to the Angels, who in turn accepted the right-hander. More on all four of these guys can be found at the A’s site shortly. 

Duke faces live hitters

I’m technically off today, but Justin Duchscherer sure isn’t, so I’m taking a quick break from my errands before I head off to Trader Joe’s to update you all on the session he threw today. It marked the first time all spring he’s faced hitters, and from all reports I’ve read, Duchscherer’s 30-pitch session couldn’t have gone better – aside from being hit by a line drive off the bat of Max Stassi. The right-handed Duchscherer blocked the ball with his hand before it ricocheted off his right shoulder so it wouldn’t come straight at his face.

After facing Stassi and Ryan Sweeney, Duchscherer told reporters he feels healthier than he’s felt in five years and hopes to be game-ready by Opening Day.

“I see myself as one of the best pitchers in baseball,” Duchscherer told the Associated Press. “My only concern is if I have time to get ready to throw six
innings. I’m hoping I don’t have to start the season somewhere else.

“I threw with the intent of throwing to every location with all my
pitches. My body feels great. No elbow pain. No
back pain. It was nice not to have to think about if I was going to get
through the pain and focus on doing my job.”

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, the next step for Duchscherer — if all goes according to plan — will be a simulated game in Phoenix on Tuesday when the A’s have a scheduled off day. 

Postgame notes / Split-squad info

Manager Bob Geren suggested there is a “competition” at shortstop but said Cliff Pennington — as expected — is the “front-runner” for the starting job. He’d like to get Adam Rosales time at both short and second base in the meantime.

Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez are among a few A’s pitchers in camp working on a changeup. Both talked about the process following their Cactus League debuts on Monday, so look for more on this come Tuesday.

After today’s 10-3 loss to the Cubs, Geren mentioned that Justin Duchscherer could possibly throw off the mound tomorrow. It will all depend on how he feels in the morning, especially since he threw on flat ground today. As for Joey Devine, the hope is for him to face hitters sometime during the next week. Another rehabbing pitcher, Josh Outman, is apparently making miracle-like strides. In the sixth inning of today’s contest, the PA guy announced that Outman was entering the game in left field. It was actually Jake Fox, but the mistake definitely got some heads turning…

Tomorrow the A’s will partake in their first split-squad games. Half the team will stay home to face former Oakland pitcher Rich Harden and the Rangers while the other lucky half gets to board a bus and take a ride to Surprise, home of the Royals. I’ll be reporting from the home game, where Geren and plenty big-name guys are slated to be. Trevor Cahill is on the bump, and these position players are on the list to join him at Phoenix Muni:

Chris Carter, Eric Chavez, Mark Ellis, Jake Fox, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Adam Rosales, Steve Tolleson, Jemile Weeks, Matt Whitney, Joel Galarraga, Max Stassi, Kurt Suzuki, Matt Carson, Coco Crisp, Eric Patterson, Ryan Sweeney, Michael Taylor

Meanwhile, if you’re making the trip to Surprise to catch Vin Mazzaro throw in his second spring game, here’s a list of the position players who will be over there:

Daric Barton, Adrian Cardenas, Grant Green, Dallas McPherson, Cliff Pennington, Gregorio Petit, Eric Sogard, Josh Donaldson, Landon Powell, Anthony Recker, Corey Brown, Travis Buck, Jack Cust, Rajai Davis, Gabe Gross

Exactly who will be in both of the starting lineups has yet to be revealed, but I’ll let you know immediately through Twitter (http://twitter.com/JaneMLB) as soon as I find out tomorrow morning.

Duke news, plus postgame notes and more

All the postgame talk Saturday was preceded by an interesting pregame session with manager Bob Geren, who, when asked about the likelihood of Justin Duchscherer being ready for Opening Day, responded: “He’s still optimistic about Opening Day, but I don’t think so. Getting him built up to 100 pitches makes it difficult to do without six starts. Four of our starters are getting six starts, and [Trevor Cahill] is getting seven. He’s two or three weeks behind.” 

Duchscherer, in fact, IS still optimistic about being on the 25-man roster Opening Day. When approached by other reporters, he made it clear he still believes he’ll be good to go. He’s been throwing from the front of the mound and did so again Saturday, so I should have another update on that session tomorrow morning.
__________________
 
And now, some postgame dribblers for y’all… (Sheets’ Southern drawl must be wearing off on me):

Immediately after the game ended, Eric Patterson was en route to get stitches for the cut he got above his left eye when trying to grab a groundball that took a bad hop in the fifth inning. I’m told there was plenty blood, although I guess you really didn’t need to know that…

Flamethrower Henry Rodriguez threw the ball 98mph at least six or seven times in his one-inning stint today against the Angels, according to Geren. Equally impressive, Geren said, was Tyson Ross — who struck out two in two shutout innings of work. “He has a bright future, for sure,” the A’s skipper said. “And since he was in there early in the game, he faced a lot of Angels regulars. That was a good test for him.”

Coco Crisp enjoyed a successful Cactus League debut, leading off in the DH spot and going 2-for-3 with a double. He’ll continue to battle Jack Cust, Jake Fox and Eric Chavez for time in the DH role as he rehabs the surgically repaired shoulder that forced him to miss the majority of last season. “He had a real nice game,” Geren said. “Lots of power off the bat there.”
____________________

Leftover notes: Righty Jason Jennings, who — along with Brett Tomko — signed with the A’s on Feb. 28, threw a simulated game Saturday and is slated to throw after Gio Gonzalez in Monday’s home game against the Cubs. Meanwhile, Tomko showed up in the A’s clubhouse before today’s game and spoke about the irritated nerve in his right throwing arm. He also boasted about his five-month-old twins, Jack and Ty, and said there was no special reason for choosing those particular names other than the want to give them “manly” names. “You want them to have names that sound good as a kid,” he explained, “but also sound like good names when they’re older.”

Brett Anderson is on the bump tomorrow — weather permitting — and is scheduled to throw ahead of Matt Wright, Fautino De Los Santos, Cedrick Bowers, John Meloan and Brad Kilby.

See y’all at the Angels’ Tempe Diablo Stadium in the morning…  

Sunday notes: Sheets, Cahill and more

Tidbits from a rather quiet Sunday that saw way too much rain pound Phoenix Muni for the majority of the day:

Ben Sheets threw live BP and said everything felt great. Among those who stood in against him: Ryan Sweeney, Daric Barton, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jake Fox. As I’ve noted before, Sheets has turned out to be quite the character around the clubhouse. On the mound, though, he turns into a completely different creature. Very intense. Less than five minutes after walking off the mound, though, he was back to his joking self. And if anything, he learned to stay away from the Mexican burrito spread right before he heads out to throw…

Bob Geren was very impressed with Trevor Cahill’s BP session today and said his performance was “the best I’ve seen from him.” Looked like he had all his pitches working for him, and he was getting quite the response from guys watching him in the dugout.

As you’ve probably already read here, the A’s signed veteran right-handers Jason Jennings and Brett Tomko today. Buzz is already circulating about what these moves mean for the current pitching staff. Are these additions simply Billy Beane’s way of adding more depth to a team with a longstanding injury history, or might this bring to question Justin Duchscherer and Sheets’ health? Hard to say right now, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.

I was told today that the A’s exhibition opener against the Cubs on Thursday will be on the radio for the first time in more than a decade. So for those of you within range of KTRB-860 in the Bay Area, you’ll be able to listen to all the sights and sounds of Oakland’s opener.

And if you didn’t get a chance to see this video of Rickey Henderson lending some advice to Rajai Davis, make sure you do so.

One final note to leave with you: As Jayson Stark observed today, this is the last Sunday without a baseball game to watch until November 7.

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