Slap Hitter: A's begin Road Trip, Everything's New



The 2010 baseball season began with Eric Chavez and the Oakland A's getting beat by Ken Griffey Jr. and the Seattle Mariners. Tonight the Athletics begin a road trip against Seattle, which hasn't won a whole lot since, fired their manager this morning and seen Griffey retire after being too tired to stay alert on the bench. Eric Chavez told the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday that he might be hanging up his cleats for good, and today the A's brought up long-awaited minor league slugger Chris Carter to take the place of one of the two outfield Matts that have been keeping left and right field warm. In other words, it's a whole new ballgame.

The A's have been telling fans all year that Carter isn't ready. But that hasn't quieted fans, who have seen way too little power from any position other than pitcher, and welcome the .260 hitter as the second coming of, wow, it's hard to think of a recent A's slugger.

Not greatly anticipated has been the simultaneous arrival in Oakland, of Jeff Larish, a journeyman first baseman formerly of the Detroit Tigers and for a single week the corner guy for the Sacramento River Cats. Larish, possessor of 188 big league at bats, went fairly nuts in the River City, hitting three homers and ten RBI in a double-header win for the A's Triple A's on Saturday. Maybe that's who Carter reminds me of, Jeff Larish!

The A's throw their lesser starters at Seattle this week, Mazarro, Anderson and Braden are by now the weakest links in a pretty strong chain, but still look to be sufficient to take 2 of 3 from the bottom-dwelling sub-Mariners, who were thought to be the IT team of the 2010 season, but got old and terrible at the same time, and cost manager Don Wakamatsu, who A's fans were panting for this time last year, his job.

The one danger for the new A's is that teams under new management sometimes play insensibly well for their new crew; witness the woeful Baltimore Orioles, winners of 5 out of the last 6, by changing skippers and little else last week.

So, it should be a battle of emotions in a contest that would otherwise hold little interest outside the Pacific Time Zone, but if you get the chance to tune in, you can definitely say, you saw it first. Whatever it will be.