A variety of spring training bits, and more on Li'l Sarge

By Jason Wojciechowski on March 12, 2007 at 6:09 PM

Esteban Loaiza's shoulder got a little tight during the A's game against the Giants last Thursday. Oakland can't really afford much in the way of injuries this year - they're already dealing with a shuffled outfield, and I don't have a lot of confidence in their collection of borderline-fifth-starters to make up for Rich Harden or Loaiza if one of them goes down. (Harden, it should be noted, also pitched in the game and struck out four in three innings.)

See also this article discussing Loaiza (but not adding anything new). That piece does also mention, as an "oh by the way" that Nick Swisher is #3 on the A's depth chart in center field, which means he's #2 in the absence of Mark Kotsay. Given that #1, Milton Bradley, isn't exactly made of granite, I think there's a decent chance we could see some Swish in center for a few games this year.

On borderline fifth starters, see here, discussing Friday's game in which Brad Halsey gave up nine runs on nine hits in just two and two thirds innings. See also this piece, a more in-depth bit about Halsey and his frustration as he tries to make the team / break into the starting rotation.

Some home run news for the A's: Eric Chavez popped one against lefty Joe Saunders (always a good sign), Nick Swisher hit one almost 500 feet, and even Daric Barton got into the act.

Chris Shelton could be available. He's a first baseman, which is a position the A's aren't really hurting at (although if Swisher's in the outfield and Dan Johnson struggles, we're left with the unmitigated defensive disaster that is Erubiel Durazo playing first). He also really cooled off after last year's surge to start the season. That said, he's a high-OBP guy with clear power potential. If he were available cheaply, he could make a nice pickup.

He may be an idealogue, but at least Justice Alito is a baseball fan. He threw out a first pitch (he said he'd throw a gyroball) at a Devil Rays-Phillies exhibition on Saturday. Alito is, of course, a Phillies fan. I suddenly just started rooting a little harder for the Mets.

On the Gary Matthews front, Bud Selig is now applying the pressure, saying that he's on the same page as Arte Moreno with regard to his desire that Matthews make a statement. As usual, Bud's dead wrong. See also Jack Curry's piece in the New York Times on the subject. Matthews did issue an apology through his agent, but it's an apology for causing a distraction, not for anything substantive, so he's holding his ground.

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