Andy LaRoche continues to tighten his grip on the starting third baseman's position for the Oakland A's.
Tuesday night against the Cleveland Indians marked his third consecutive start there and his seventh start of the season at third base (he has started 14 games in total).
LaRoche entered Tuesday's game batting .341 for the Athletics. He has received playing time at each of the infield positions this season.
LaRoche was signed by Oakland this offseason to a minor league deal and invited to spring training to compete for the starting position with incumbent third baseman, Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Kouzmanoff had an impressive spring and won the starting position, but LaRoche was able to make the team as the utility infielder.
Kouzmanoff's struggles early on have earned him a spot on the bench in favor of LaRoche's hot bat. Kouzmanoff is batting just .208 and has already committed six errors in the early going.
LaRoche's versatility likely keeps him pegged as the team's utility-man though, unless a move is made to bring up an infielder who can serve as backup to Cliff Pennington at shortstop and Mark Ellis at second base.
A's manager Bob Geren has indicated that LaRoche will continue to serve as relief for the A's regular infielders.
It seems that Kouzmanoff is still considered the team's starting third baseman.
A decision will have to be made between Kouzmanoff and LaRoche when regular utility-man, Adam Rosales, returns from the disabled list some time next month.
Also, A's prospect Adrian Cardenas could force the team's hand and earn a promotion with his hot hitting in the minors.
If Kouzmanoff is to pry his job back from Andy LaRoche, he will need to improve his lackluster play—both at bat and in the field—when he is given another opportunity in the starting lineup.
Dallas Braden suffers a setback, will revisit Doctor Lewis Yocum
Dallas Braden played catch on Monday afternoon for the first time since his shoulder injury landed him on the 15-day disabled list.
While this should have been a positive step in his return to the Major League's best starting rotation, it turned out to be anything but. He experienced discomfort in his throwing shoulder and will be sent by the team to see Yocum again for further evaluation.
Yocum's initial diagnosis was inflammation in the shoulder, with no structural damage requiring surgery.
Andrew Bailey to face batters, headed towards a rehab assignment
Andrew Bailey threw a pair of successful bullpen sessions last week and is set to throw his first live batting practice session on Wednesday.
The Athletics would like Bailey to throw a pair of sessions to live batters before they decide on a rehab assignment for the two-time All Star closer.
Bailey was first injured during spring training, when he was diagnosed with a forearm strain by Doctor James Andrews.
If Bailey does not experience any setbacks, he could rejoin the A's bullpen by the middle of May, further strengthening the A's bullpen behind their stellar starting pitching.
Rich Harden throwing long-toss sessions
Another injured Oakland pitcher, Rich Harden, has been throwing long-toss sessions in an effort to build his arm strength and work towards a return to throwing from a mound.
There is currently no timeline for when Harden will be able to take the next step in his rehabilitation, nor is there one for his 2011 debut with the Oakland A's.
Wednesday's game against the Cleveland Indians is a BART $2 Wednesday. $2 tickets are available in Plaza Level, Plaza Outfield and Plaza Reserved sections.
The first 10,000 fans through the gates for Thursday's day game against the Indians—12:35 pm start time—will receive an "Atletico's" T-Shirt in honor of Cinco de Mayo.
The A's still have one more date on their current calendar—May 16 against the Angels—for the "Name Your Own Price" group ticket promotion. Fans can submit a bid to the A's for how much they want to pay for a group of 25+ seats. After submitting your bid, you will be contacted by an A's representative to finalize your order and assist with your seating preferences.
Please note that not all bids will be accepted, but you will be contacted either way. Click Here for more information.
The A's next homestand will begin on Friday, May 13 against the Chicago White Sox. The A's will be at the Coliseum for seven games through Thursday, May 19.
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