Sacramento Notebook: Rehabs Galore

The Sacramento River Cats have cooled some after a red-hot start to the season. Chris Biderman updates us on what has been an active two weeks for the Oakland A's Triple-A club.

Team Overview

All of the injuries the Oakland A's have dealt with has led to the A's shuttling players between Oakland and Sacramento with regularity, causing a few players to come back to Earth after scorching starts to the season.

And then there's Manny Ramirez.

One of the best right-handed hitters in all of baseball over the last two decades, Ramirez has gotten off to a slow start in his 'rehab' stint with the River Cats, hitting .250/.314/.250 in nine minor league games after Monday's two-hit performance, when he nearly hit his first home run to right center in the seventh.

Serving a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy, Ramirez is eligible to return to the major leagues on May 30, his 40th birthday, although the A's announced on Monday that Ramirez would remain in Sacramento on Wednesday. His return to the big leagues should come soon, however.

Ramirez was light-hearted when he spoke with reporters on Monday.

"I'm going to hit (a home run) today, yes," he said before he was asked the first question.

Ramirez likened his first eight games with Sacramento to spring training, saying that he's still getting comfortable in the box and is trying to see as many pitches as he can. He didn't appear worried about his lack of power early on.

Darren Bush's River Cats are 7-6 since matching their best start in team history when they began the season 25-13. The club's April slash line of .291/.356/.465 has dropped slightly to .265/.342/.465 in May. Strangely, the River Cats' slugging percentage is the exact same in both months, despite the team hitting 35 home runs in May after notching 24 in April. The team has hit 50 doubles in May and hit 61 in April.

Losing Jarrod Parker combined Brad Peacock's recent struggles have contributed to a pretty sizeable drop in the team's pitching numbers. The staff's April ERA of 3.62 has dropped more than a run to 4.63, with hitters hitting .275 compared to just .247 against River Cats' pitching.

Despite his 4-1 record this month, Peacock's performance might be concerning for the A's. The right-hander was making progress since a rough spring training, but has allowed 18 runs over his last 21.2 innings in four starts.

Those numbers could be skewed, however, given one of the starts came in Albuquerque, a notorious hitters' park. He hasn't walked more than three hitters in an outing this year, giving him a walk rate of 2.9 per nine innings. River Cats' coaches don't appear to be worried about Peacock and indicated that he threw better than those numbers would show.

Regardless, it appears Peacock might be further away from earning a major promotion any time soon. With Travis Blackley throwing well in his first start with the A's on Monday (one run on three hits in five innings) and Brandon McCarthy seemingly on-track to return to the A's rotation on Saturday, Peacock will likely stay in Sacramento for the time being to get more comfortable with his pitches while adding a cutter to his repertoire.


Comings and Goings

The River Cats have made 16 transactions since May 16 while the A's have dealt with their injury issues. Graham Godfrey was promoted May 22 to make a start against the Angels and a relief appearance against the Yankees before being demoted back to Sacramento on Sunday. In his five innings with the A's, Godfrey allowed six runs on 11 hits. He struggled with a finger issue in his start against the Angels.

Prior, Godfrey had been very good with the River Cats, going 3-0 with a 2.76 FIP, allowing 28 hits in 29.2 innings. Oakland hopes the right-hander can return to that form and regain his confidence just in case they need him as a fill-in going forward.

Adam Rosales was playing well with Sacramento before being promoted to Oakland on May 17. In 36 games, he was hitting .277/.314/.438 before being promoted to take over as the A's utility man. He took over for Eric Sogard, who was added to the River Cats' roster May 22. In his four games since, Sogard is 5-for-13 and has sparkled defensively, while getting two starts at second base and one at shortstop.

"He's made five or six diving plays going to his left by second base. He's been outstanding," Darren Bush said.

Oakland third baseman Brandon Inge made a very brief rehab appearance after straining his right groin on May 12. In two games in Triple-A, he had a cartoonish slash line of .857/.875/2.000 after he hit two homers and two doubles. One of his round-trippers was a grand slam.

A's rookie star Yoenis Cespedes made his Sacramento debut Monday while rehabbing a strained muscle in his left hand. The outfielder changed the way he gripped the bat, holding the bat traditionally instead of wrapping the knob with the palm. Cespedes is eligible to return from the 15-day DL at any time and could likely join the A's when they play in Kansas City on Friday.


Who's Hot

Grant Green was one of the few River Cats who didn't come out of the gate scolding hot. But as his teammates such as Michael Taylor and Brandon Moss come back to the norm, Green has put together a solid month of May and become one of Sacramento's most consistent hitters.

The shortstop-turned-outfielder has a slash line of .309/.341/.506 with three home runs and 10 driven in this month, after hitting .256/.296/.378 in April. His strikeout volume is still troublesome at this point, but that's to be expected of a player still growing physically and as a hitter.

Infielder Brandon Hicks has also rebounded from a rough April to put up good numbers in May. After posting a 680 OPS last month, Hicks has rocketed that figure up to 1008 over the last 23 games, giving him a respectable 865 OPS overall. He can thank a nine-game hitting streak for the increase in his numbers, when he hit 16-for-42 (.381) that included a stretch when he homered four times in six days.

When the A's claimed Hicks off waivers back in March, expectations were pretty low offensively. With a career 741 OPS in Triple-A over three seasons, he appeared to be a quick fix option to provide some depth after the Scott Sizemore injury. It's still too early to tell, but Oakland's brass could be on to something if Hicks is able to sustain his success throughout the summer. The 26-year-old was a third-round pick by the Braves in 2007, so there's upside there. He is a standout with the glove, especially at short.

Erick Threets' good season has extended through May and gotten even better. The left-handed reliever has allowed two earned runs in 12 innings this month and has a 2.16 ERA on the year. Threets has never been a big strikeout guy, which might be one of the main reasons he's only played in 21 major league games. But given the constant shuffling of relievers for Sacramento, he's been a stabilizing force for a unit that's taken its lumps this month.


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