OAKLAND -- An injured Jerry Blevins gives the A's just one lefty in a rather thin bullpen, where Craig Breslow will likely represent the only southpaw available for the Rangers series beginning Thursday.
Breslow was not available for Wednesday's contest having pitched in each of the club's last three games, but he'll be expected to carry closer duties for the four-game set with Texas with both Blevins and Michael Wuertz being unavailable.
Blevins is feeling better, according to manager Bob Geren, but has yet to resume throwing because of a strained left shoulder. Wuertz, meanwhile, is battling a nagging sore right thumb and, thus, has been deemed day to day. The A's other top reliever, Brad Ziegler, endured 1 2/3 innings of work (24 pitches) while taking a 4-3 loss Wednesday.
Breslow, who recorded just one save in four seasons prior to this year, has a career-high three saves this season as a result of the injury to Andrew Bailey, who is slated to have his sore right elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews in Florida on Thursday.
Despite Bailey's glaring absence in what could be a pivotal series for the A's, Geren knows he must handle the left-handed Breslow carefully, so rather than simply selecting relievers based on left-handed and right-handed situations, he'll "use different criteria," including low-strike and low-walk history.
Breslow is currently tied for second among American League relievers with 71 appearances and is also tied for fourth in innings pitched with 69 1/3, which marks just one-third of an inning less than his 2009 total. Along the way, he's compiled a career-high 67 strikeouts, which ties him with Bob Owchinko (1982) for the second-best total by a left-handed reliever in Oakland history.
A's give Barton day off to rest thigh bruise
OAKLAND -- Daric Barton received a much-needed day off Wednesday after suffering a left thigh bruise the night before, thus handing Jeff Larish a start at first base.
Barton, who has appeared in a team-high 146 games, including 145 starts, was in a collision at the plate with White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski in the third inning of Tuesday's game. He stayed in the game for another inning but was lifted after the fifth frame.
"He needs a day," manager Bob Geren said. "He banged his knee into the catcher. There's some tightness in his knee, so to not play would be best for his body."
The A's skipper expects Barton to be ready for Thursday's four-game series opener against the visiting Rangers, who stood seven games ahead of Oakland in the American League West entering Wednesday's action.
The A's first baseman is batting .226 in 19 games this month, but he still leads the AL in walks (103) and ranks sixth in on-base percentage (.395).
For Larish, it marked his third start at first base for the A's this year. After a short week-long stint with the club in early August, Larish returned Aug. 20 and is 8-for-46 (.174) with two home runs and eight RBIs in 16 games since then. He entered Wednesday's contest mired in a 0-for-14 stretch.
A's hold Kouzmanoff out of lineup
OAKLAND -- Kevin Kouzmanoff's long-awaited return Tuesday lasted just one day, as the A's third baseman sat out Wednesday's series finale against the White Sox.
Manager Bob Geren insisted Kouzmanoff's lower back -- which kept him out of the lineup for more than two weeks -- was "fine." The A's skipper simply wants to keep him healthy while also using Akinori Iwamura at third base.
Iwamura got the start at the hot corner on Wednesday against Chicago righty Edwin Jackson, his eighth appearance there since being signed by the A's on Sept. 13. He's 4-for-14 (.286) over his last four games entering Wednesday after going hitless in 10 at-bats.
A's extend contract with Triple-A Sacramento
OAKLAND -- The A's on Wednesday announced they have extended their player development contract with Triple-A Sacramento through the 2014 season.
"We are delighted to continue one of the most successful Major League Triple-A relationships in all of baseball," A's general manager Billy Beane said in a statement. "We consider Sacramento to be the premier franchise in Minor League baseball, providing us with an ideal situation in regards to a first-class playing facility, a supportive fan base and close proximity to the Bay Area.
Sacramento, which has had a Minor League affiliation with the A's since 2000, won its ninth Pacific Coast League Division title in the past 11 seasons this year. Their success followed a rather ugly start that had the River Cats 12 1/2 games back of first place in June.
Since 2000, the club has won four PCL Championships and has posted the league's best record (892-691). All the while, they've also led Minor League Baseball in attendance during nine of the past 11 years.
Eric Sogard received his first Major League start Wednesday, getting the nod at second base while Mark Ellis received a day off. ... Gabe Gross, who underwent a stretch of 24 straight games without a start, was handed one in right field Wednesday. Gross had been sporting a full beard, but he showed up Wednesday with a small bare patch on his chin less than 24 hours after entering the game in the seventh and tallying a double. He said he had planned to shave it all off Tuesday night, but "I hit one off the wall last night, so what are you gonna do?" ... The A's entered Wednesday's contest with a 56-30 mark against the White Sox since the start of the 2001 season, which is the best record by any American League team against Chicago over that span.