A's Ready To Open Season Versus Red Sox

The A's took two more exhibition games in Japan.

After winning 18 games during the exhibition season -- including two games versus Japanese teams over the weekend -- the Oakland A's are ready to start playing games that actually count. The team has set its Opening Day roster and will take the field at 3:05 am PST in Tokyo.

The A's didn't fly 12 hours just to do some sightseeing. They've done some of that, sampled Japanese cuisine, and thoroughly enjoyed their two exhibition games against Japanese teams Yomiuri and Hanshin, winning both games. But their main focus is the two regular-season games against the Boston Red Sox at the Tokyo Dome.

Oakland brought 30 players on the trip, and on the morning of Opening Night, the team set its 25-man roster and announced what three players will be on the team's inactive list.

Third baseman Eric Chavez, who will miss his first opener in 10 years, is going start the season on the disabled list; the A's shut him down in Phoenix when he had more stiffness in his surgically repaired lower back. That means that Jack Hannahan, who homered vs. Yomiuri, will be at third base for the foreseeable future. Most of the discomfort Chavez has had during his rehab has come when fielding grounders, so the comeback process might be lengthy.

Kiko Calero and Chad Gaudin have also been placed on the DL. Calero was placed on the 60-day DL, as he tries to recover from a torn rotator cuff. Mike Sweeney was added to the A's 40-man roster, taking the spot opened by Calero's DL status. Gaudin will start the year on the DL, but should be available to rejoin the A's in time to make a start in mid-April. The A's also announced that shortstop Gregorio Petit, who traveled with the team to Japan, has been optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. He is expected to be the River Cats' starting shortstop this season.

Who will be the A's primary center fielder remains an open-ended question for Oakland. Ryan Sweeney started the first exhibition game in Japan, Chris Denorfia the second. Denorfia has begun swinging the bat better, with seven hits in his final 15 at-bats in Arizona, but it is clear that the team hasn't made a decision on an everyday starter, and it's possible the two will split time.

Top outfield prospect Carlos Gonzalez was declared as one of the A's three ineligible players for the Japan series even though he is still back in the US. This move allows the A's the option of carrying Gonzalez on the team's US Opening Day roster. He will rejoin the team in the Bay Area for the exhibition Bay Bridge series and he has been playing minor league games back in Phoenix, having recovered from a strained hamstring.

Justin Duchscherer and Dana Eveland, the team's presumptive third and fourth starters, were the A's other two ineligibles. Both starters won't be needed until the US portion of the A's schedule.

Joe Blanton gets the start for the A's versus Boston ace Daisuke Matsuzaka. The game will be televised live by ESPN and then on tape delay at 11 a.m. PST.

TheSportsXChange contributed to this report.

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