Unofficially unanimous: Suzuki is MVP
Oakland (75-86) vs. Los Angeles (96-65), 1:05 p.m. PT
OAKLAND -- Few polls have unanimous results, but such was the case this week when more than three-quarters of the current A's roster was asked to name the team's Most Valuable Player.Every player named catcher Kurt Suzuki, who will lead American League catchers in starts for the second consecutive season and lead the A's in RBIs for the first time. Suzuki, who didn't start Saturday but will make his 132nd start on Sunday as the A's close out the regular season and their three-game series against the Angels, also has a shot at leading the team in hits for the second consecutive season. He had 148 last season, and his 2-for-4 night on Friday pushed his team-leading hits total to 155; Adam Kennedy ranked second on the team with 153 entering Saturday's contest, but he also sat. Oakland's coaches were unanimous in support of Suzuki as the team MVP, too, but it took manager Bob Geren a couple of days to get off the fence and join the party. Geren, who said his reluctance was based on the fact that his team doesn't officially recognize an MVP, waffled on the topic on Friday. He mentioned All-Star rookie closer Andrew Bailey, rookie left-hander Brett Anderson, star setup man Michael Wuertz, outfielder Rajai Davis and even team home run leader Jack Cust as worthy candidates. Asked to reconsider on Saturday, Geren relented. "Yeah, he's been our MVP," conceded the skipper, noting Suzuki's consistency, durability, defensive prowess and his adroit handling of an exceptionally young pitching staff. "He has been extremely valuable for all those reasons." Suzuki, who turns 26 on Sunday, is finishing his second full year as the starter behind the plate, and while he expressed considerable appreciation for the recognition of his teammates, he expects to contribute more across the board in 2010. He was batting .274 -- his .279 average led the 2008 A's -- with 15 home runs and 88 RBIs with a .313 on-base percentage through Friday, and he led AL catchers in doubles (34), RBIs and stolen bases (eight). "I feel like I can get better in every area," he said. "It's been a good year for me, but I always feel like I can do more, and if I keep working the way I have been, I think I can do more." Oakland's primary cleanup hitter down the stretch, Suzuki agreed with hitting coach Jim Skaalen's opinion that he could develop into a 25-homer man. "I do," Suzuki said. "I've hit a lot of doubles [at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum] that probably would have been homers in a lot of other parks, so that's something you have to factor in, but I definitely think I can get stronger and maybe take better advantage of some of the other parks we play in. "Defense will always be first for me, though. My job is to handle the staff and do a good job behind the plate. Whether you hit or not, that's the most important part of being a catcher." The most valuable part, you might say. Pitching matchup
OAK: Edgar Gonzalez (0-4, 5.51 ERA)
Gonzalez was Oakland's scheduled starter for Sunday, but before Saturday's game Geren suggested that he might treat the finale "like a bullpen game." Among those who'd be considered to get the ball first and work the first two innings are lefties Jerry Blevins and Brad Kilby and righty John Meloan. LAA: LHP Joe Saunders (15-7, 4.62 ERA)
Saunders had a shutout going entering the seventh against the A's on Sunday when it unraveled, with four hits, a walk and a wild pitch producing three runs. He finished with the win, his sixth in seven starts, yielding three earned runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out three men. Saunders has allowed three or fewer earned runs in his past seven outings, since recovering from shoulder issues. Saunders is 7-3 with a 3.97 ERA in 12 career outings against the Athletics and 3-1, 2.73 in four outings in Oakland. Dribblers ...
Infielder Nomar Garciaparra, who was considering retirement before signing with the A's during Spring Training, might be playing his last game in the Majors on Sunday. Geren said Garciaparra will start but didn't say where he'll play. One of the top shortstops of his generation, Garciaparra, 35, hasn't played there all year while dealing with a chronic condition in both calves. He said he's undecided on his future but doesn't expect to be asked back as a free agent. ... Rookie right-handed reliever Henry Rodriguez hit 101 mph on Friday night. Geren said Rodriguez, 22, has the potential to be "pretty incredible" if he can develop consistent control of his heat. ... The Angels have won the season series against the A's in five of the past six seasons. ... Outfielder Travis Buck said he's been dealing with dizziness, which he suspects is related to post-concussion syndrome. He missed part of last season after running into an outfield wall. Tickets
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Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.