Notes: Geren holds pregame meeting
Manager urges troops to relax; Chavez misses second game
OAKLAND -- The first time A's manager Bob Geren held a full-blown team meeting, it came before a June 27 contest in Cleveland.
The players responded to that little chat by banging out 18 hits on their way to a 13-7 victory that snapped what was then Oakland's longest losing streak of the season at five games.
With his charges having dropped a season-high eight games in a row and in the throes of an epic offensive slump, Geren again huddled the masses Tuesday before the second game of a three-game series against the visiting Rangers at McAfee Coliseum.
The primary theme of the meeting in Cleveland was the importance of staying positive. There was a little of that this time around, too, but the main message was very simple.
"That was pretty much it," Geren said.
After the A's dropped the series opener here Monday, unable to score more than three runs for an Oakland-record 11th consecutive game, veteran outfielder Shannon Stewart suggested said the team was pressing at the plate.
Geren obviously agreed. And with the A's on the brink of midsummer irrelevance for the first time since 1998, he decided it was time to issue a couple of relevant reminders.
Entering Tuesday's game, Oakland sat 12 games behind the first-place Angels in the American League West and 10 1/2 games behind the Indians in the AL Wild Card race; both deficits were season highs.
"I told them we have 69 games left, and we have a chance to catch these guys," Geren said. "It's not gonna be easy, but it's possible. One guy didn't get us in this slump, and one guy isn't going to get us out of it.
"We are gonna get us out of this."
Chavez still out: Third baseman Eric Chavez, battling tightness in his lower back, was unable to play for the second consecutive game. Nobody knows exactly how severe the injury is, but it's bad enough that outfielder Bobby Kielty was taking ground balls at the hot corner during batting practice.
Kielty downplayed his pregame work at third base, noting that he hadn't been told to do it, but with utilityman Marco Scutaro filling in while is Chavez unavailable, the current A's roster is without a true backup at third.
Geren said he spoke with head athletic trainer Larry Davis on Tuesday and was told that Chavez was scheduled for an MRI exam.
"They're gonna check it out," Geren said. "Until we get that back, he's listed at day-to-day."
Dribblers: With Triple-A Sacramento on the road, designated hitter Mike Piazza's Minor League rehab stint was scheduled to continue Tuesday with an appearance at Class A Stockton. A team source said Piazza has told teammates that he expects to be ready for activation from the disabled list by Friday. Piazza bobblehead dolls will be given away at Saturday's game against the Orioles. ... Catcher Rob Bowen, acquired in the Monday trade that sent Jason Kendall to the Cubs, reported to the A's on Tuesday and made quite an impression during batting practice by bashing a series of moonshots deep into the left-field bleachers. ... Righty Esteban Loaiza, who threw off a mound Monday for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in early June, will throw again Wednesday and every other day thereafter until he declares himself ready to face hitters, Geren said. ... Outfielder Nick Swisher, stuck in an 11-for-78 (.141) rut through Monday, did not start Tuesday. Geren said it was "mental day" off. ... Infielder Donnie Murphy was reinstated from the bereavement list and optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. Murphy is 0-for-6 in eight games over three stints with the A's this year.
Up next: A's lefty Lenny DiNardo (3-6, 2.78 ERA) takes on Rangers righty Kevin Millwood (6-7, 5.77 ERA) on Wednesday in the series finale. The first pitch is set for 12:35 p.m. PT.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.