Oakland A's MLN: A Sneak Preview For Oakland

Josh Outman became the 11th player to make his major league debut with the Oakland A's this season. With Outman and Aaron Cunningham on-board now and more September call-ups likely to follow after the minor league post-season concludes, the future of the Oakland A's franchise will be on display for the season's final month.

The future is now for the Oakland A's, and two featured youngsters have joined the club the past few days -- outfielder Aaron Cunningham, who made his big-league debut Sunday, and left-hander Josh Outman, who was called up Tuesday.

Cunningham, 22, had two hits in his debut, a double and a two-run single. Acquired for Dan Haren during the off-season, Cunningham hit .329 with 17 homers, 66 RBIs, 15 stolen bases and a 932 OPS in 107 games for the A's Triple-A and Double-A affiliates this season. Cunningham is likely to get a lot of at-bats the rest of the season, much as Daric Barton did last year when he came up for the final month. He is expected to vie for a starting outfield spot in the spring with a large batch of talented young outfielders, including Ryan Sweeney, Carlos Gonzalez, Travis Buck and possibly Chris Denorfia. Cunningham has been compared to former A's outfielder Eric Byrnes and Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand for his hustle and energy.

Outman, acquired in the Joe Blanton deal this July, made his big league debut on Tuesday in Kansas City. It was an impressive start for the left-hander. Working in relief, he threw two scoreless innings, allowing only two singles. He struck-out two and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

After the trade, Outman was initially assigned to Double-A Midland, where he worked in relief before moving to the rotation, then he got a five-outing look at Triple-A Sacramento, where he began in the bullpen and moved to starting. In 42 games this season, he made 11 starts and posted a 3.11 ERA in 98.1 innings.

Outman, 23, is expected to work in relief with Oakland, but he could be considered for a spot in the rotation at some point next season. Outman has a similar arsenal to current bullpen 'mate Jerry Blevins. Blevins had a similar path to Oakland as Outman. He was acquired in a mid-season deal in 2007 for Jason Kendall and made his big league debut last September. Blevins has split his 2008 season between Sacramento and Oakland. After posting a 2.78 ERA with the River Cats, he has a 2.93 ERA in 27.2 innings with the A's.

In addition to seeing young players such as Cunningham and Outman make their debuts this September, Oakland will also be looking for young players who have been with the team all year to perform. Daric Barton, in particular, will be under a microscope. The young first baseman has struggled since May 1st and could be in danger of losing his job next season without a strong finish. He is off to a good start in September, as the rookie went 3-3 with a homer, a triple, a single and a walk in four at-bats in the A's loss on Tuesday. Over his last six games, Barton is eight-for-20 with a .455 OBP. On the season, he is hitting .223 with eight homers, 40 RBIs and a 654 OPS.

Injury Updates

--RHP Justin Duchscherer is still being pointed toward a Saturday start at Baltimore if his sore right hip allows. Duchscherer had an injection of Synvisc, a synthetic material that cushions joints, and if he has no discomfort, he will go as planned, according to manager Bob Geren. If Duchscherer cannot go, RHP Kirk Saarloos is the most likely candidate, but with rain in the forecast in Kansas City this week, the A's might have all sorts of pitching complications before then.

--DH Mike Sweeney joined the A's in Kansas City on Tuesday after a nine-game rehab assignment, but he was not activated. He worked out with the club before Tuesday's game and a decision will be made about his status on Wednesday. Sweeney, who had arthroscopic knee surgery in June, is on the 60-day DL, and the A's must make room for him on the 40-man roster. They are awaiting the results of DH Frank Thomas' visit to an orthopedic surgeon in Los Angeles on Tuesday; if Thomas were to have season-ending surgery on his right quadriceps, then Thomas would go on the 60-day DL, creating a roster spot for Sweeney.

Roster Updates

--LHP Dan Meyer was recalled on Tuesday and he is scheduled to start Thursday's game at Kansas City.

--LHP Lenny DiNardo was removed from the 40-man roster and outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento in order to clear space on the 40-man roster for LHP Josh Outman, who was officially promoted to Oakland on Tuesday. DiNardo was sent down last month and has been pitching at Sacramento, where he has an ERA of 6.69.

Playoff Start Tonight

Sacramento, Stockton and Kane County will all begin their playoff runs tonight. The River Cats will send right-hander Brad Knox to the mound, while Stockton will use Scott Mitchinson and Kane County will go with Carlos Hernandez. Sacramento plays a best-of-five series, while Stockton and Kane County are in best-of-three sets.

The Stockton rotation for the three games against Modesto is expected to be Mitchinson, Jason Glushon and Graham Godfrey. Mitchinson was one of the best pitchers in A-ball this season. He had a 1.73 ERA in 88.1 innings for Kane County and Stockton this season. But for an elbow injury that sidelined him for nearly two months with Kane County, Mitchinson might have been called on to pitch for Double-A Midland down-the-stretch. The Australian right-hander has an 87:12 K:BB ratio this season and has allowed only one homerun.

Glushon has pitched for all of the A's full season affiliates this year. The undrafted free agent signing from 2007 has posted a solid 3.67 ERA in 88.1 innings spread out between Sacramento, Midland, Stockton and Kane County. In 41.2 innings for Stockton, the 23-year-old has a 3.67 ERA with only six walks in 41.2 innings. Glushon has walked only 19 in 88.1 innings this year.

Godfrey, acquired in the Marco Scutaro deal with Toronto last November, has spent all but a week with Stockton this year. In 134 innings, he has a 5.10 ERA and 119 strike-outs against 37 walks. The 24-year-old has made 29 appearances for Stockton this season.

TheSportsXChange contributed to this report.

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