Oakland preparing to leave Wednesday night for Tokyo Print
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Monday, 17 March 2008 11:40
MLB Headline News

 PHOENIX (AP) -Non-roster first baseman Mike Sweeney will be making the trip to Japan with the Oakland Athletics this week. Outfielder Todd Linden was told Monday that he's staying back in Arizona despite a strong spring.
The A's open the season March 25 with the first of two games against the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox, and the clubs also will play a pair of exhibitions beforehand with Japanese teams.
The 34-year-old Sweeney has had a solid spring after receiving a minor league contract last month to join the A's after spending his first 13 major league seasons with the Kansas City Royals.
``He is playing very well,'' Oakland manager Bob Geren said Monday. ``He's had a great spring. He's been told he's going to Japan. The rosters won't be finalized until right before the game that day, but he's going on the trip.''
The A's can bring 30 players to Japan because of the exhibition games, but must set their 25-man roster before the season opener next Tuesday. But the 25-man roster can be at 28 players with three ineligibles. Those three likely would be two starters who won't be pitching during the series as well as injured third baseman Eric Chavez, who will stay in Arizona to get more rehabilitation work done and some appearances in minor league games.
If Sweeney makes the team, he would have to be added to the 40-man roster and someone else would have to be taken off to make room.
Sweeney could wind up in a platoon situation at designated hitter with Jack Cust, who also will get time in left field. Whether the A's decide to keep Dan Johnson is still up in the air, and he is out of options. They have tried trading him before to no avail.
For now, everybody is gearing up to leave the desert Wednesday night.
This Web site address hangs on the bulletin board in the A's clubhouse at Phoenix Muni Stadium: http://www.all-about-teaching-english-in-japan.com/flighttojapan.html - some tips for players to prepare for the 12-hour trip.
``I'm excited, but I'm nervous about the length of the flight,'' outfielder Emil Brown said.
Linden stayed in the clubhouse before Monday's Cactus League game against the Royals rather than warm up with his teammates - a clear sign he's disappointed about the team's choice and that he's taking it as a sign he won't make the club.
``Angry, upset,'' he said of his reaction.
The 27-year-old Linden was 5-for-7 with three RBIs over his previous two games and batting .577 with (15-of-26) overall this spring.
``What kind of message is that supposed to portray to me after having a good spring? 'You have no shot,''' Linden said of not traveling to Tokyo. ``'You aren't in the mix' - when they told you you'd have a shot.''
Chavez and pitchers Kiko Calero and Chad Gaudin were already told they aren't making the trip in order to get healthy. Calero had shoulder trouble that shortened his 2007 season and Gaudin has been eased back this spring after undergoing operations on his left hip and right foot on Dec. 18.
Chavez, the six-time Gold Glover, wanted to go to Tokyo but knows that the long flight could be tough on his body. He had three surgeries in three months last year.
In November, Chavez underwent a procedure to remove damaged tissue from his left shoulder. Before that, he had right shoulder surgery performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum on Sept. 5 to repair a torn labrum, fix a damaged biceps tendon and remove a loose body from the joint. Then on Oct. 9, Chavez had surgery on his back.
He received an injection in his back Feb. 29 to ease inflammation.
``It's really close,'' he said. ``It's the right decision. It's for the best.''
Also Monday, the A's reassigned non-roster pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Greg Smith to minor league camp.

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