Results tagged ‘ Vin Mazzaro ’

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.

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…  

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.

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. 
____________________

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.     

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. 

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…

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