Results tagged ‘ Michael Wuertz ’

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.

One cherry Tootsie Pop, please…

I’m starting to wonder if the A’s training room is handing out free lollipops or something. Or maybe stickers and Disney princess band-aids. That’s just my guess. I can’t seem to think of any good reason why the baseball gods, year after year, continue to sprinkle this A’s team with health problems. As expected, Kurt Suzuki became the 10th A’s player to go on the disabled list today. Justin Duchscherer could easily be next, and Dallas Braden’s numb foot didn’t exactly leave anyone feeling great after the lefty’s last performance.

After seemingly getting off to one of their healthiest starts in years, the A’s have quickly reminded us that the bad luck that has continually circled through the clubhouse hasn’t quite left. A total of 74 players have made use of the DL since the start of the 2007 season, and the A’s are now on pace to use it about 70 times this year alone. Anyone out there working on a medical thesis right now? Someone could easily do an exhaustive study on this injury-prone team.

Let’s take a look at who’s enjoying a Tootsie Roll Pop right now:

Kurt Suzuki is bored out of his mind thanks to an intercostal strain in his left side that will keep him out of the lineup until May 9 at the earliest. That’s when he’s eligible to return from the 15-day DL.

Mark Ellis didn’t make the team’s current road trip and is instead treating his strained left hamstring. He’s eligible to be reinstated from the DL on May 6, but the club isn’t making any promises that his name will be back in the lineup then. After all, Ellis returned April 20 after missing seven games due to the injury and left the game after five innings. No need to rush him.

Travis Buck, possibly the most frustrated of them all, is out with a strained right oblique muscle — which flared up during batting practice April 21 and had him on the DL by the next morning. He hit a monster of a home run the day before suffering the injury and appeared to be heading toward a hot streak, making the situation that much more disappointing. Story of Buck’s life, though. Right?

Coco Crisp probably wants to simply wave a magic wand over his fractured pinkie finger right about now, but he’s taking things in stride because he know there’s absolutely nothing he can do to make it heal quicker. He’s hopeful he’ll be able to resume baseball activity in less than two weeks, which means we could maybe see him make his debut in green and gold by the end of May.

Brett Anderson received quite the reward for signing a four-year contract extension last week. And I’m not talking about the $32 million he could potentially earn. Rather, Anderson is now being forced to celebrate his new deal with a strain near his flexor tendon that will force him to miss at least five weeks.

Michael Wuertz scared us all when he wasn’t pitching in any Spring Training games. That’s when we found out about the sore shoulder, which then turned into shoulder tendinitis, which then put him on the DL to start the season. The A’s top right-handed setup man is on his way back, though. He is scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Sacramento tonight and, if all goes well, he could rejoin the team for next week’s homestand.

Joey Devine is one of the nicest guys on the team, but his surgically-repaired elbow hasn’t been so kind to him. Devine entered camp quite enthused that he was ahead of his Tommy John rehab schedule only to be set back with tendinitis halfway through spring. Then, just as he was about to face live hitters last week, he felt more pain and found out the tendinitis has returned. However, that’s relatively good news considering he thought there might be a tear involved. Devine was transferred to the 60-day DL today to make room for Josh Donaldson on the A’s 40-man, so it looks like we won’t see him until after the All-Star break.

Josh Outman, like Devine, is recovering from Tommy John surgery and isn’t expected to rejoin the club until midseason. All reports on his recovery process, though, have been nothing but thumbs up.

John Meloan, remember him? He underwent Tommy John surgery last month and will likely be out until the middle of the 2011 season.

That should add up to nine. Trevor Cahill, who struggled in his season debut against the Jays tonight, represents the club’s 10th player to have used the DL this year. He started the season there with a stress reaction in his left scapula before being optioned to Sacramento and, eventually, being recalled to fill Anderson’s place.

The A’s also saw Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jerry Blevins miss time due to their own respective injuries last week. Now, the team will wait on news from Dr. Thomas Byrd, who will examine Duchscherer’s MRI on Monday in Nashville. If surgery is required, folks, you won’t be seeing him back in a uniform this year.

Watching Duchscherer choke up after last night’s game was rough. This guy’s essentially been to mental hell and back, and now he’s dealing with yet another hip issue after just five starts. If he’s out of the mix, Vin Mazzaro is likely to get the call up. Maybe then we’ll appreciate all this depth talk Billy Beane spoke of so much during the offseason.

On the upside, Eric Chavez is still going strong. Of all the players who have fallen victim to the injury bug, who would have thought the A’s veteran would not be one of them? Chavez very much appears to have a great peace of mind regarding his role on this team, and it’s good to see him enjoying himself on the field again. He also got a haircut recently, as I observed today. “Actually,” he said with a grin, “I got it last week, but thanks for noticing.”

Hey, it’s hard to keep track of trips to the DL, let alone visits to the salon…  

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.

Wuertz back in action; Braden goes five

Michael Wuertz showed off his multitasking
talents today by balancing nine-month-old son Braxton in one arm while talking
to reporters about his first spring appearance. The A’s righty gave up two
hits, a walk and a run in his outing but said he felt good and saw results
he was expecting. “That’s kind of always how my Spring Training games have
gone,” he said. Since Wuertz missed the first couple weeks of spring with
shoulder soreness, he’s still building up arm strength and, subsequently, can’t
get much out of his slider right now. He said he threw three in the frame, one
that was taken for a hit and another that led to a walk. At the same time,
Wuertz said he expected it to be that way, so he heavily relied on his
changeup. He mentioned his shoulder felt fine and, at the end of the day, “it
was just good to get out in game action, especially against another colored
uniform.” Meanwhile, manager Bob Geren

called it a “decent first outing.”

 

Slightly in
the shadows of Wuertz’ outing was Dallas
Braden
, who started the game and threw close to 80 pitches in five innings
of work. He gave up three runs (two earned) on eight hits while fanning half a
dozen and was quite pleased with his fastball command and changeup. However, he
wasn’t too thrilled with his fielding. Braden committed an error by missing a
catch and noted he felt rather “embarrassed” and “disappointed” since pitchers
spend half of their spring doing fielding drills.

 

Braden also
talked about how his numb foot affected him for the first time in a game
situation this spring. He lost his balance on a pitch to Chris Dickerson in the fifth because he couldn’t feel how far back he was. The southpaw half-heartedly reached out to reporters for ideas to ease his foot, as he’s already
using insoles, metal plates and toe guards, among other things. “I think a
witch doctor is coming tomorrow with a bucket of chicken,” he joked. Braden isn’t
too worried about the foot, though. After all, he may never regain feeling in
it. “I can’t just wait around for it,” he said. “I’ve got baseballs to throw.”

Dribblers: Coco Crisp is slated to be back in the lineup tomorrow after having been diagnosed with a strained left hamstring March 10. He’ll likely DH before making his first spring start in the outfield the next game. … Rajai Davis (sore abdomen) took batting practice Sunday and told me he was planning on doing all baseball activity. He should be back in tomorrow’s lineup as well. … Rehabbing pitchers Joey Devine (shoulder) and Craig Breslow (elbow) played catch today, and there’s a possibility Andrew Bailey (elbow) will pick up a ball tomorrow.

Talking ads, brackets … and some baseball

There was a lot going on today, and as I mentioned in my previous blog, it all started with the unveiling of the A’s new ad campaign. I ran into Andrew Bailey right before the A’s game against the Cubs and he mentioned he had heard all of us media folk got a sneak peak at the commercials. When I asked him how many times he had to say “nipple clipper,” he laughed and shook his head before replying, “A lot.” He’s quite the trooper. “That’s what they wanted me to say!” he insisted. From what I hear, a few clips of the ads will join the story that’s already posted on the A’s site by the end of the day, so make sure you check on that tonight. 
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I’m pretty sure the A’s clubhouse was just as stunned as the rest of the nation by St. Mary’s upset of Villanova this afternoon. Only infield coach Mike Gallego picked the Gaels to beat up on the No. 2 seed, and things only got worse for the A’s clubhouse pool when Kansas was stunned by Northern Iowa later in the day. Out of the 57 entries, 30 have Kansas winning it all. I hate to say it, but that 30 includes me. I usually like to pick anyone but the early favorite, but for some reason I did this year, and look where it got me. At the same time, I believe that watching the underdog upset the top seed is well worth the complete trashing of my bracket.
_____________________

It’s hard not to get caught up in all the glory that is March Madness, but aside from my frequent peeks at scores today, most of my focus was on the A’s and Cubs split-squad game here in Phoenix — mainly Ben Sheets, who, if you all recall, gave up 10 runs without retiring a batter in his last outing. On Saturday, though, Sheets looked like a different pitcher. Not only was his velocity there again, but his movement finally decided to show up this time. He was quite pleased with his curveball — and rightfully so — and the ways in which his mechanics improved in just five days’ time.

While Sheets was tossing his most impressive spring performance thus far, Jason Jennings wasn’t having as much luck with the Indians over in Goodyear. The new A’s right-hander, vying for a bullpen spot, gave up eight runs, seven hits and two walks in just 1 2/3 innings as the A’s dropped that one 12-4. Vin Mazzaro also pitched in the game but didn’t post great numbers either. His line: 2 IP, 5 H, 4 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 2 K. He’s going to need to step it up if he wants to be a serious contender for the fifth starter spot, especially when Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez are throwing as well as they are.

Joining Jennings and Mazzaro in Goodyear was Ryan Sweeney, who notched two hits in the DH spot, and Kevin Kouzmanoff, who went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer. Outfielder Matt Carson also hit a home run and went 2-for-3, and Adrian Cardenas tallied two hits as well. Eric Chavez was hitless in three at-bats, but the fact he made the rather long trip says something about the effort he’s putting in this spring to assure himself of a successful year. From what I was told, Chavez volunteered to make the trip so as to guarantee a start at first base since Daric Barton was already slated to start at the home game. The team, of course, didn’t have the veteran Chavez making the trip at first, but the A’s infielder insisted so that he could get in his at-bats.

That should do it for today. Dallas Braden is on the mound for the A’s against the visiting Reds tomorrow, but I’m sure all eyes will be on Michael Wuertz, who is supposed to make his first game appearance of the spring.     

Saturday starters

Lineup vs. visiting Cubs: Patterson CF, Pennington SS, Ellis 2B, Suzuki C, Barton 1B, Cust DH, Gross LF, Buck RF, Petit 3B, Sheets SP

Lineup at Indians: Rosales SS, Sweeney DH, Kouzmanoff 3B, Chavez 1B, Taylor LF, Brown CF, Powell C, Carson RF, Cardenas 2B, Jennings SP (Mazzaro to follow)

Some pregame notes:

Michael Wuertz, who has yet to pitch in a game, is slated to make his Cactus League debut Sunday against the visiting Reds. Dallas Braden will start the game.

Fellow rehabbing pitcher Craig Breslow will play catch from a distance of 80-120 feet today. The lefty is nursing medial tendinitis but is not expected to be out much longer. Meanwhile, no word on when Andrew Bailey (tennis elbow) will throw, but it could be soon.

Coco Crisp (hamstring/shoulder) could potentially be back in the lineup Sunday or Monday. Like I’ve mentioned before, he’ll probably DH his first game and then attempt to play defense for the first time all spring in the following game.

In order to stay on his throwing schedule, Gio Gonzalez – who last threw Thursday — will pitch in a Minor League game Tuesday on the team’s off day.

As a side note, the A’s on Saturday announced their 2010 ad campaign, titled “Green Collar Baseball,” and delivered a sneak peak of the commercials to the media. It’s pretty easy to make me laugh, but I have to admit that these ads are truly funny. Between Mark Ellis dressed in an 1870s uniform, Trevor Cahill staring down Dave Stewart and Bailey questioning something about a “nipple clipper,” there are plenty humorous moments to go around. More details on these ads, which will be online at the A’s site by season’s start, can be found here soon. Props to Hub Strategy, an advertising agency that teamed with the A’s, for their creativity on these.

Friday pregame: Injury updates

Joey Devine – who has yet to pitch in a game — is “getting better every day,” says manager Bob Geren. However, Devine didn’t throw again Friday, but Geren said Saturday or Sunday is a “possibility.” Devine has been treating a dose of
tendinitis in his surgically repaired arm and hasn’t been on the mound in more than a week. It remains to be seen
whether the A’s reliever will be ready to go come Opening Night.

Right-hander Michael Wuertz, who threw for the first time in a Minor League game Thursday (21 pitches), told manager Bob Geren that he felt “great” when he came into the clubhouse Friday. That means he’ll likely make his Cactus League debut by weekend’s end. “It sounds like he’s doing fine,” Geren said. “Hopefully we’ll let him throw soon.” 

Geren said Coco Crisp (strained left hamstring) ran sprints Thursday and is “two, three, four days away” from seeing game action again. The A’s new center fielder, who missed almost all of last season after undergoing surgeries on both his shoulders, will likely DH in his first game back and potentially play defense for the first time this spring soon after. “His hamstring is real minor,” Geren said. “And his arm’s good — that’s the good news.”

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.  

Bailey, Wuertz and more

Good things really do happen to good people. Today’s case in point: Andrew Bailey. He’s one of several overly friendly (in a good way, of course) guys on the team, and he deserves everything that’s come his way in the past year, including his All-Star and Rookie of the Year honors. Good fortune has apparently followed him into 2010. Last night he was honored in a halftime ceremony at his alma mater Wagner College. The head honchos there decided to retire Andrew’s No. 17 – which he said came as a complete surprise when approached about it in the middle of the offseason. His former coach, Joe Litterio, couldn’t say enough about Andrew. You can read the full story here.

Also on the good-guy radar today is Michael Wuertz. The new daddy of son Braxton avoided arbitration and agreed to a two-year deal with a club option for 2012 this afternoon. When I spoke to Michael, he seemed very relieved knowing he’ll likely be in the same place for a couple years.

Add in the Ben Sheets signing and interesting Baseball Prospectus PECOTA projections that have the A’s finishing first in the AL West this year, and I have to say it’s been a pretty good week for fans of the green and gold. Curious to hear your thoughts/arguments/ramblings related to the PECOTA news. Have to admit I’m not a big fan of those types of projections, but I know a lot of you are. So have at it…

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