Perez hopes not to get run-down in 2006.
The A's closed their Catcus League season with a dud of a game versus their cross-town rival on Wednesday. After the game, the A's packed up and headed back to soggy Northern California, where they will play their AAA affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats, on Thursday, and then the SF Giants again on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (weather permitting). In this edition of Camp Notes, we learn of Antonio Perez's status as the team's pinch-running specialist and more.
Expect infielder Antonio Perez to pinch-run a lot for designated hitter Frank Thomas late in games.
Thomas won't be asked to score from first on doubles, and he never was much of a speed burner anyway. If he reaches base after his fourth at-bat in a close game, he'll almost assuredly get lifted for a pinch runner.
Perez, acquired in the Milton Bradley trade, led the Dodgers in hitting last year and has impressed manager Ken Macha with his line-drive swing this spring.
"Antonio has some speed," Macha said. "The nice thing about having him is he can hit. In other years, I've refrained from using a pinch runner for my best hitters because there was a big drop-off. I'm not afraid to use Antonio. If the lineup turns around, we've got a capable guy in there."
That's yet another sign the A's won't keep Freddie Bynum, who is out of options.
Bynum has the potential to impact a game as a pinch runner, since he's probably the fastest player in the organization, but it's looking more and more likely that he will be traded.
--LHP Barry Zito, in his final tune-up before an Opening Night assignment against Randy Johnson and the Yankees, allowed four runs in five innings. Zito appeared to strike out Mike Matheny on a 2-2 curveball in the second inning, but it was called ball three, and Matheny hit the next pitch for a two-run home run. Zito's stuff was good this spring, as evidenced by his 22
strikeouts in 25 innings.
--OF Milton Bradley was a late scratch from the starting lineup Wednesday due to tightness in his right quad. It was just precautionary, and Bradley will be re-examined Thursday.
--LHP Randy Keisler was one of three lefties in contention for a possible second lefty spot in the bullpen that doesn't appear to be materializing, since DH Frank Thomas is healthy. Keisler allowed two home runs Wednesday
and has an 8.03 ERA this spring. LHP Ron Flores (9.00) and LHP John Rheinecker (6.48 ERA) haven't fared much better.
--3B/1B Scott McClain, who returned to the United States last year after four years in Japan, is tied for seventh in the Cactus League in doubles (seven) and RBIs (14). With no roster spots open, McClain is headed to Triple-A Sacramento.
--LHP Ron Flores, UT Freddie Bynum and bullpen catcher Brandon Buckley were given permission to drive to the Bay Area on Wednesday since the cost of having a car shipped is steep for those who have lived off minor league salaries lately.
--The A's square off with the Sacramento River Cats tonight at 6:35pm at Raley Field in Sacramento. Oakland will face the San Francisco Giants in their traditional Battle of the Bay series starting Friday. The Giants take on the Angels in San Francisco tonight.
BY THE NUMBERS: 6 -- Number of stolen bases by Freddie Bynum this spring, through Monday. The A's team leader last year was Eric Chavez with six.