MLB NEWS AND NOTES MAY 30

MLB NEWS AND NOTES MAY 30

Friday's MLB Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

Most major league clubs crisscrossed the country on Thursday in preparation for this weekend’s refreshed series. In return this has given gamblers ample time to circle key matchups on their sheets with expectations of an inflated bankroll en route.

Friday will begin the big day of hardball for the weekend. A full fifteen games will grace television sets across the U.S., so lets zero in on some key contests that might lend themselves to making money.

Colorado (A. Cook) at Chicago Cubs (T. Lilly) – 2:20 p.m. EDT

If there’s been a club to avoid at the window as a backer it’s been the Rockies. With a deficit of -14.93 units on the money line and a suffocating -21.40 units on the run line, Colorado has suffered from some serious hitting and pitching problems. The Rockies have registered three straight losses versus Philadelphia this week, with the siren going off in a 20-5 meltdown on Monday. For players looking to fade Colorado take a look at the team’s 1-4 record versus lefties on the road. Facing Chicago’s southpaw starter Ted Lilly will be a mission for the Rocks who have brought in just 43 runs (27th worst) and a .328 on base percentage (20th ranked) against southpaws this season.

Polar opposites of a struggling Colorado squad are the Chicago Cubs. The Cubbies are in prime position in the NL Central, taking 22 victories out of 30 contests at home. A total of 296 runs scored ranks Chicago tops in the majors, and a solid 17-1 record when leading at home in the seventh inning onwards should garner gamblers’ attentions. Chicago has been installed as a favorite in 19 games straight, crafting 13 of those contests into victories. Total players key on the ‘under’ which has gone 7-2-1 in the last 10.

Pitching Matchups: J. De La Rosa (COL) vs. R. Dempster (CHC) on Saturday, U. Jimenez (COL) vs. S. Gallagher (CHC) on Sunday

Florida (M. Hendrickson) at Philadelphia (B. Myers) – 7:05 p.m. EDT

The Marlins may possess a solid 18-12 home record, but taking road games has been a tad more disappointing (12-10). But the true theme in Game 1 of this series against the Phillies should rotate around southpaw slinger Mark Hendrickson (7-2, 4.14). In one start over the course of a three-year period against Philadelphia, Hendrickson was pummeled for seven hits and seven earned runs in only five innings of work. And the numbers only get worse over the same period. The Marlins’ six year vet out of Washington State has managed a deplorable .298 BAA with 206 RBIs and 49 long balls surrendered during those three years.

Philly is virtually knotted up with Florida in the NL East standings (1/2-game out as of Thursday). A 7-3 run in the last 10 games has seen the Phillies stroke in 74 runs (7.4 runs per game), thanks largely in part to consecutive offensive runs versus Houston and Colorado. On May 25th and 26th, the Phills combined for 35 runs. Chase Utley, Pedro Feliz and Ryan Howard have put together a total of 32 RBIs in the last seven games (Utley leading the pack with 14 RBIs) and the starting pitching core has accounted for a 3.17 ERA during the same seven games. Philadelphia leads the league this season with 102 runs and is ranked seventh with 155 hits when facing off against lefties.

Both teams are split down the middle with 10 wins apiece in the last 20 meetings.

Pitching Matchups: R. Nolasco (FLA) vs. C. Hamels (PHI) on Saturday, A. Miller (FLA) vs. J. Moyer (PHI) on Sunday

Chicago White Sox (J. Contreras) at Tampa Bay (J. Shields) – 7:10 p.m. EDT

For the Rays to hold onto first place honors in the AL East this long says that off-season preparation and the continued building of a young “program” has continued to payoff. A 21-9 home record should come in handy against a White Sox team whose been exposed on the road for a .255 BA. A 16-6 run in Tampa’s last 22 has been greeted with a pitching staff holding teams to 3.8 runs per game, while the offense has worked for 4.7 runs per game. A 17-4 tear in their last 21 games played on turf combined with a 9-1 record in their last 10 when starter James Shields climbs on top of the hill has helped reap the rewards of a successful push through the first quarter of the season.

Chi-town has tried to put a two-game losing streak versus the Angels aside by scoring 14 runs in the last three contests. Receiving successful starts from slingers Javier Vazquez, Jose Contreras, Gavin Floyd and John Danks (combined for a 3.20 ERA), the White Sox have the pieces in place for a tough battle with Minnesota and Cleveland (and maybe Detroit – if it can get its stuff together) down the stretch. Chicago is a dominant 15-5 in its last 20 versus Tampa Bay, but this is a different West Coast Florida squad. The Sox enter Friday with a 7-1 record in its last eight road games and are 11-3 in their last 14 overall.

Pitching Matchups: J. Vazquez (CHW) vs. S. Kazmir (TAM) on Saturday, M. Buehrle (CHW) vs. A. Sonnanstine (TAM) on Sunday

Toronto (D. McGowan) at L.A. Angels (J. Weaver) – 10:05 p.m. EDT

Anybody looking to make a consistent buck in baseball need not look any further. Between both the Blue Jays and Angels, total players have filled the vault with a combined 68-35-7 record on the ‘under’ this year. Just a microcosm of this trend has L.A. going 14-1 on the ‘under’, with nine of those low scoring contests coming in consecutive order. Adding more firepower to this totals play is a 39-15-5 ‘under’ record in the last 58 meetings in head-to-head action (12-1 ‘under’ in the last 13 contests).

Looking at series game record has these two teams in head-to-head action going 13-5 on the ‘under’ in Game 1.

The Angles have helped their ‘under’ trend feed the needy by brining in 3.1 runs per game in the last 15. The last time books ventured out to adjust a total of 10 runs or above was back on Apr. 26. The end result was a push against Detroit by the score of 6-4.

The Blue Jays are coming off a 7-3 performance in their last 10 which included a four-game sweep over the Royals. Pitching has been the saving grace for Toronto. Between the rotation and pen, the Jays are ranked second in the AL with a 3.38 ERA, second with a .234 BAA and are top notch with 22 saves on the season.

L.A.’s starting pitcher Jered Weaver has gone 2-0 with a rock bottom 0.74 WHIP (equating to a 0.89 ERA) in his last three starts.

Pitching Matchups: S. Marcum (TOR) vs. J. Lackey (LAA) on Saturday, A.J. Burnett (TOR) vs. J. Garland (LAA) on Sunday

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NATIONAL LEAGUE

Florida (30-22) at Philadelphia (31-24)


The Marlins will send left-hander Mark Hendrickson (7-2, 4.14 ERA) to the mound at Citizens Bank Park in the opener of a three-game weekend set against the Phillies, who will counter with struggling Brett Myers (2-6, 5.79) in a battle between the top two teams in the N.L. East.

Florida comes into this series having dropped two in a row against the New York Mets, including a 7-6, 12-inning setback Wednesday night. The Marlins, who opened the three-game series against the Mets with a 7-3 win, are still 6-3 in their last nine games. They sit in first place in the East, a half-game ahead of the Phillies.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, is coming off a three-game home sweep against Colorado, posting a 6-1 rout Wednesday before joining Florida in taking Thursday off. The Phillies, outscored the Rockies 33-10 in the three victories, and they have now won four in a row – starting with a 15-6 rout at Houston on Sunday.

This is the first series of the season between these division rivals. They split the 18 meetings in 2007, but the Phillies went 6-3 at home and are 12-4 in the last 16 head-to-head contests at Citizens Bank Park. However, Philly is 0-4 in Myers’ last four starts against the Marlins.

Hendrickson is 3-1 with one no-decision in his last five outings, and the Marlins are 8-2 in games he’s started. On Sunday against San Francisco, he got roughed up a bit, allowing five runs on nine hits in five innings, but he got the win as Florida pounded out an 8-6 victory.

The 6-foot-9-inch Hendrickson is 2-1 with a 3.46 ERA on the road this year, but he’s 0-1 with an inflated 12.60 ERA in two career appearances (one start) against Philadelphia – both last year while he was with the Dodgers, and primarily due to him allowing seven runs on 11 hits in just three innings of a 15-3 blowout in L.A.

Myers has gone more than six weeks without a win, going 0-5 with two no-decisions in his last seven starts, and the Phillies have lost six in a row when he takes the ball. On Saturday at Houston, the right-hander allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings in a 4-3 loss for his fourth straight setback.

Myers is 2-1 with a 4.31 ERA at home this season, and he’s 5-7 with a 5.01 ERA in 24 career appearances (18 starts) against the Marlins. Last year, he went 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA in seven appearances (two starts) against Florida, allowing 12 runs on 20 hits in 10 2/3 innings.

The Marlins have notched five straight wins against right-handers and are on runs of 13-3 against winning teams, 9-3 after an off day, 15-6 in series openers and 12-5 against the National League East. On the negative side, the Marlins are on a 1-5 skid on the highway.

The Phillies have taken four in a row against left-handers and are 6-1 at home against lefties, 9-2 in Friday contests, 29-10 in series openers and 5-2 against the N.L. East. However, Philly is 3-13 in Myers’ last 16 starts overall, 3-10 in his last 13 at home and 2-14 in his last 16 within the division.

The over is on myriad runs for the Marlins, including 5-0-1 overall, 6-1-2 on the highway, 5-1 following a loss, 5-1 in series openers, 24-9-2 on Friday, 17-8-3 after an off day and a lengthy 58-26-8 in Florida’s last 92 division contests. However, the under is 9-0 in the Marlins’ last nine against winning teams. For Philadelphia, the over is on an 11-2 tear in series openers and is 5-1 on Friday, 4-1 against lefties and 9-3-1 following a win, though the under is 6-2 in its last eight against N.L. East foes.

Finally, the over is 35-16-2 in the last 53 series clashes between these two, though four of the last five meetings in Philly have stayed low.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Chicago White Sox (30-23) at Tampa Bay (32-22)


Jose Contreras (5-3, 3.06 ERA) takes the ball for the White Sox when they face James Shields (4-3, 3.37) and the Rays in the second game of a four-game series at Tropicana Field.

Chicago posted a 5-1 victory in the opener Thursday night, improving to 12-3 in its last 15 games, including 8-1 on the highway. Meanwhile, despite Thursday’s setback, Tampa Bay is also playing great ball, having gone 14-6 in its last 20 games overall, including 11-3 at the Trop. Going back further, the Rays have won 17 of their last 20 at home.

Chicago has won eight of the last nine games against the Rays, posting a 7-1 mark at Tampa during that span.

The White Sox are 4-0 in Contreras’ last four outings. The righty has won three of his last four, getting a no-decision in a 3-2 home win against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday. In that contest, Contreras allowed just two runs on three hits in eight innings, with no walks and 10 strikeouts.

Contreras is 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA on the road this season, and he’s a perfect 5-0 with a 2.89 ERA in eight career appearances (seven starts) against Tampa Bay.

Shields hasn’t notched a win in three weeks, going 0-1 with two no-decisions, but the Rays won those two games. On Sunday, the Rays’ ace allowed four runs on eight hits in eight innings, with Tampa earning a walk-off 5-4 home win over Baltimore. It was the fourth straight start that Shields went beyond seven innings – that includes his most recent win, a 2-0 gem at home against the Angels in which he threw a one-hit complete game May 9.

Shields is 3-1 with a solid 1.75 ERA in six home starts this season, but he’s 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA in two career efforts versus Chicago – both coming last year, when he allowed nine runs on 19 hits in 14 total innings as the Rays lost both games.

The White Sox are 7-1 in their last seven games as an underdog, 8-3 in their last 11 Friday contests and 6-1 in Contreras’ last seven road starts. On the flip side, Chicago is in ruts of 1-4 against the A.L. East, 4-9 in the second game of a series and 3-9 with Contreras throwing against A.L. East foes.

The Rays sport several positive streaks, including 8-1 at home against winning teams, 19-8 as a home chalk, 16-5 against right-handers, 9-4 in Game 2 of a series and 4-1 in Friday outings. With Shields on the mound, Tampa sports streaks of 6-0 at home against winning teams, 9-1 at home overall and 10-2 as a favorite.

The under is 6-0 in Contreras’ last six starts overall, 4-0 in his last four on the highway, 4-1 in his last five versus the A.L. East and 10-4-1 in his last 15 against winning teams. Also, the under is 6-2 in Shields’ last eight starts against the A.L. Central.

The under for the White Sox is on streaks of 21-9 overall, 12-4 as an underdog, 9-0 on artificial turf, 6-0 against the A.L. East and 16-7 against right-handed starters, but the over is 4-1 in its last five roadies. For the Rays, the under runs include 8-3 at home against winning teams, 8-3-1 against the A.L. Central and 12-5 in Game 2 of a series.

Finally, the under is 8-1 in the last nine series meetings between these two, including 7-1 in the last eight clashes at Tropicana Field.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

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Baseball Today

Oakland at Texas (8:05 p.m. EDT). Justin Duchscherer gave up only one hit in eight innings in his last start for Oakland. The Rangers' Kevin Millwood makes his first start since going on the disabled list May 11.

STARS

-Randy Winn, Giants, homered twice, including a solo shot leading off the ninth inning that gave San Francisco a 4-3 win over the Diamondbacks.

-Phil Dumatrait, Pirates, gave up two hits and two walks in seven innings without yielding an earned run, and struck out nine in a 7-2 victory over the Reds.

-Paul Konerko, White Sox, went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in a 5-1 victory over the Rays.

-Jody Gerut, Padres, hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning to help San Diego beat the Nationals 5-2.

-Rod Barajas, Blue Jays, had three doubles in four at-bats, driving in three runs and scoring twice more in a 12-0 rout of the Athletics.

-Mark Teixeira, Braves, homered and drove in four runs in an 8-1 romp over the Brewers.

-Kevin Slowey, Twins, gave up six hits and one run in a complete-game, 5-1 victory over the Royals. He also struck out six without issuing a walk.

SPOILED HOMECOMING


The Mets spoiled Los Angeles manager Joe Torre's return to New York, handing the slumping Dodgers their third straight loss, 8-4. It was Torre's first game in the city since parting ways with the Yankees last October. Many fans in the crowd of 52,886 at Shea Stadium stood and cheered when he made a pitching change in the seventh inning, and Torre waved and doffed his cap while walking back to the dugout.

CATCHING CLEMENS

The Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson tied Roger Clemens for second place on baseball's career strikeout list, fanning nine batters in seven innings against the Giants, the last one drawing a big ovation. He has 4,672 strikeouts in 20 major league seasons. Nolan Ryan holds the major league record for most career strikeouts with 5,714.

FLYING HIGH


The Blue Jays' Jesse Litsch won his fifth straight decision and ran his scoreless innings streak to 16 in a 12-0 rout of the Athletics. Litsch's gem and Toronto's most productive game of the year also gave manager John Gibbons his 300th managerial victory.

PAYBACK

Phil Dumatrait got sweet redemption against the team that put him on waivers, giving up one unearned run and two hits in seven innings of a 7-2 victory over the Reds. The Pirates snapped Cincinnati's nine-game home winning streak. Dumatrait was 0-4 in six starts for the Reds last season with a 15.00 ERA. He's 2-1 in six starts for the Pirates.

BERKMAN'S HOT MAY

The Astros' Lance Berkman hit his 17th homer leading off the ninth inning of a 3-2 loss to the Cardinals. He also doubled in four at-bats and is hitting .474 in May (46-for-97) with nine homers and 22 RBIs.

REELING ROYALS

Kevin Slowey pitched a six-hitter and the Twins beat the Royals 5-1, handing Kansas City its 11th straight loss. The skid is the longest in the majors this year and the Royals' worst since a 13-game skid May 12-25, 2006.

SPEAKING

``It was a good come-from-behind win. They're playing with confidence. If we get down we have that feeling we can come from behind and win a baseball game. It's a good feeling.'' -Cubs manager Lou Piniella, whose team sits alone with the best record in the major leagues after an 8-4 victory over the Rockies.

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Lawrence's MLB weekend cheat sheet
By MARC LAWRENCE

The opening week of June signals the NHL finals are underway, the NBA finals are right around the corner and MLB is just six weeks from the All-Star game.

The two biggest surprise teams in baseball this season have been the Florida Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays, both picked to finish in last place in their divisions, yet somehow sit in first place as we enter June.

The Marlins travel to Philadelphia in one key National League series this weekend while the L.A. Dodgers battle the Mets in New York in a battle of disappointing performers. Meanwhile, the Rays host the Chicago White Sox in a matchup of first-place combatants while Toronto travels to the west coast to take on the Angels in Los Angeles.

Here’s our take on each of these series. All pitcher records are team starts unless noted otherwise; best and worst arm records are versus this weekend’s opponent. Enjoy the games…

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Florida Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies


Most Recent Series Result: Phillies 3-2 last five games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Phillies are 12-4 last 16 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Phillies 14-6 last 20 home on Sundays; Marlins 5-13 last 18 away on Sundays

Best Arm in the Series: Moyer 7-0 3.05, ERA career

Worst Arm in the Series: Eaton 1-5, 8.56 ERA last six starts

L.A. Dodgers at N.Y. Mets

Most Recent Series Result: Dodgers 3-1 last four games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Mets 4-1 last five here

Key Day/Month Stat: Dodgers 0-5 away Sundays in May

Best Arm in the Series: Vargas 2-0, 6.10 last two here

Worst Arm in the Series: Penny 1-10, 6.35 ERA last 11 here

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Chicago White Sox at Tampa Bay Rays

Most Recent Series Result: White Sox 15-5 last 20 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: White Sox 6-1 last seven here

Key Day/Month Stat: Rays 8-1 home Sundays

Best Arm in the Series: Danks 2-0, 1.50 ERA career

Worst Arm in the Series: Shields 0-2, 5.79 ERA career

Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels

Most Recent Series Result: Angels 3-1 last four games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Blue Jays 11-7 last 18 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Angels 18-3 home Fridays; Blue Jays 5-15 away Fridays

Best Arm in the Series: Garland 11-2, 4.04 ERA last 13 starts

Worst Arm in the Series: McGowan 0-3, 3.66 ERA career

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Braves' Diaz out 4-6 weeks
May 29, 2008

ATLANTA (AP) -Braves outfielder Matt Diaz will be out at least a month after injuring his left knee attempting to make a catch.

Diaz underwent an MRI on Thursday that showed a partial tear in the posterior cruciate ligament. Team doctors estimate he will be out four to six weeks.

Diaz, hitting .250 with two homers and 14 RBIs, was injured in Tuesday night's game at Milwaukee while trying to make a diving catch in foul territory. He also sustained a cut below the knee that needed four stitches.

The Braves activated reliever Rafael Soriano after placing Diaz on the 15-day disabled list. The right-hander started the season as Atlanta's closer but missed 45 games with elbow tendinitis.

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Rays' Percival goes on 15-day DL
May 29, 2008

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -Tampa Bay closer Troy Percival was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain, and the Rays filled the roster opening by activating infielder Willy Aybar on Thursday.

Percival, 1-0 with 14 saves in 16 chances and a 2.95 ERA, limped off the mound during the ninth inning of Wednesday's 5-3 victory over the Texas Rangers. An MRI exam revealed no significant damage, but the AL East leaders don't want to take any unecessary chances with the 38-year-old right-hander.

``The good news is it's nothing significant. That's what we were worried about, first and foremost,'' Rays vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said before the Rays opened a four-game series against the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox.

``It's never ideal for your closer to go on the DL,'' Friedman added, ``but I do feel confident that we have guys who will step up and help mitigate the loss.''

Percival has been a big part of Tampa Bay's success, providing veteran leadership to a young club on and off the field since signing as a free agent in November. A four-time All-Star, he has 338 career saves, 10th on the career list.

``It's huge,'' reliever Dan Wheeler said. ``What he's been able to do for us ... it's invaluable.''

Aybar, who's hitting .292 with one homer and two RBIs in 24 at_bats, had been on the DL since April 10 with a left hamstring strain. The Rays likely will make another move, perhaps purchasing the contract of Grant Balfour from Triple-A Durham, to fill the opening in the bullpen.

While Percival is out, manager Joe Maddon plans to use more than one pitcher in the closer's role.

Wheeler got the final out in Wednesday win over Texas, and Al Reyes, Trever Miller and J.P. Howell are candidates for some ninth-inning work, too.

``We have several guys who can close a game,'' Maddon said.

Percival and Maddon are confident the pitcher's injury won't sideline him nearly as long as Aybar, who missed 45 games after beginning the season as the team's regular third baseman.

``We think the DL is appropriate just to get him well so that it doesn't happen again this year,'' Maddon said. ``We pretty much expect him to be a minimum DL kind of a guy. We think if we do this right that it should just be the 15 days. ... Of course, he does not want to be on the DL. But he has to be.''

Percival said he ``popped'' the hamstring in both legs during spring training, but never took time off from the mound to allow them to heal properly. He would have preferred the Rays waited a few days to see how the injury responded to treatment.

Nevertheless, he understood the decision.

``They're looking out for the best for the Rays and the best for me. We don't have to agree on it,'' said Percival, who also felt tightness in his left hamstring during a game at Oakland on May 20. ``I knew I was going to be unavailable for at least four or five days. ... I feel like I could be back on the mound within a week. At that point, it's only costing me a week.''

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A's place Thomas on DL
May 29, 2008

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -Eric Chavez returned to the Athletics a few days ahead of schedule.

The A's activated their six-time Gold Glove third baseman from the 60-day disabled list Thursday and put him in the starting lineup as designated hitter for the finale of a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays.

As expected, Oakland placed designated hitter Frank Thomas on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right knee and quadriceps tendinitis.

Chavez was greeted warmly by the Oakland crowd but went hitless in his season debut, going 0-for-4 with one strikeout.

Chavez, who had offseason surgery on his back and both shoulders, was in Portland on a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Sacramento and thought he would travel with the River Cats to Colorado Springs. Chavez called the training staff before playing and hitting a home run Wednesday, then received word about 11:30 p.m. he would be coming to Oakland.

``I was just a little lethargic,'' Chavez said following the A's 12-0 loss to the Blue Jays. ``I need to catch up on some sleep. I'll feel better tomorrow, I'm assuming.''

A's manager Bob Geren confirmed Chavez will play third base for the first time Friday night at Texas and probably again Saturday before going back to DH on Sunday.

``With Frank going on the DL, I can use him here and work up his innings at third,'' Geren said. ``We feel like he's ready. It's a day where you lose Frank and you add him. It's great to see him back. We're going to miss Frank but with him in the middle of the lineup it's going to help.''

Batting in the cleanup spot left vacant by Thomas' absence, Chavez struck out against Toronto starter Jesse Litsch, then grounded out in his next two at_bats before flying out to right in the eighth.

``My bat was a little slow,'' Chavez said. ``I don't think it'll be too much of an adjustment. I just need to get some sleep.''

Thomas' knee had been bothering him for a couple of weeks, but he aggravated the injury stretching out a double Tuesday night against Toronto on his 40th birthday.

The Big Hurt - who rejoined the A's on April 24 after being released by the Blue Jays four days earlier - hinted late Wednesday he could be headed for a DL stint, his first since 2005 in his final season with the Chicago White Sox.

``It's got to calm down,'' Thomas said. ``You don't want to risk rupturing a quadriceps tendon at my age. In eight or nine days I'll start hitting. I wish I had just hit a hard single. I'll be back. It's fine. It's a big-time strain and there's lots of inflammation.''

Thomas was 11-for-24 (.458) with four home runs and six RBIs in seven games on the team's current homestand. He has hit four of his seven homers in 2008 since his release from Toronto.

For now, Chavez is most concerned with staying healthy, and isn't making any guarantees that his defense will be Gold Glove-caliber right away - or that his swing will be consistent. He expects his defensive play ``to be at least average.''

The A's got good news on outfielder Ryan Sweeney, who fouled a ball off his foot Wednesday. X-rays were negative for a fracture and he will be able to play again once his bruise is better and the soreness is gone.

To clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Chavez, Oakland designated outfielder Jeff Fiorentino for assignment.

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BEHIND THE LINES

Struggling Mariners and Tigers to meet up


Seattle manager changes pitching rotation, with three right-handers now going in the series at Seattle; Detroit is an AL-worst 15-28 against right-handed pitching.

Two struggling American League teams will hook up this weekend when the Detroit Tigers play the Seattle Mariners in a three-game series at Safeco Field.

The Mariners, who have the AL's worst record at 20-34, can only hope for a better showing than they had last week at Detroit.

The Tigers, with the league's third-worst record at 22-31, swept all three games and outscored Seattle by a combined 30-14.

So in an attempt to change things around for the Mariners, Manager John McLaren -- who recently received a vote of support from team management -- will skip left-handed Jarrod Washburn's turn in the pitching rotation to start three right-handed pitchers against Detroit.

That's because the Tigers are an AL-worst 15-28 against right-handed pitching, and 7-3 against left-handers this season.

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