Willingham appeals one-game suspension
A's outfielder charged with bumping umpire in Saturday's game
ARLINGTON -- A's outfielder Josh Willingham was handed a one-game suspension and fined an undisclosed amount on Monday for what Major League Baseball deemed "inappropriate conduct" in Saturday's game in Kansas City.
Willingham was scheduled to serve his suspension during Oakland's series opener against the Rangers on Monday night, but he elected to appeal the decision and will play until the process has been completed.
The eight-year veteran was ejected by umpire Bill Miller for arguing a called third strike and throwing down his helmet at the conclusion of the top of the eighth inning. Willingham appeared to bump Miller, but said on Monday, "I felt like there was contact, but I felt like the contact wasn't really initiated by me."
It is the first suspension in Willingham's career. He said he was unclear how long the appeal process is expected to last.
"I didn't know what to expect," Willingham said. "I've never been through any of this."
Should Willingham have to miss a game, A's manager Bob Geren has plenty of options to fill his lineup thanks to a roster stacked with outfield depth. Ryan Sweeney and Conor Jackson have each started multiple games in left field this year.
Willingham is hitting .235 after Monday's 7-2 win over the Rangers. He has a team-leading six home runs and 22 RBIs. He's also struck out 37 times, tied for third-most in the American League.
LaRoche in, Kouzmanoff out against southpaw
ARLINGTON -- Kevin Kouzmanoff, coming off a two-hit day in Kansas City, sat Monday's series opener against the Rangers in favor of Andy LaRoche, who brought in a .421 mark vs. left-handed pitching.
Kouzmanoff entered Sunday as the owner of a .195 average but, thanks to a home run and a base hit, is above the Mendoza Line at .209. Allowing the struggling third baseman to find something of a groove seemed like a plausible scenario, but A's manager Bob Geren simply wanted LaRoche to face Texas lefty C.J. Wilson.
LaRoche who had never faced Wilson in his career, finished the 7-2 victory 0-for-1 with three walks. Kouzmanoff is 3-for-7 lifetime against the southpaw. LaRoche's overall numbers when facing lefties this season, though, trump Kouzmanoff's .233 mark.
"Kouzmanoff had a few hits yesterday," Geren said, "but LaRoche is hitting over .400 against lefties, and it'd be nice to get them both in there if I could."
LaRoche has now started 10 of the club's 36 games at third base. He's 1-for-18 at the plate in his past five games after recording three consecutive multi-hit contests, a span in which he went 6-for-11.
Hideki Matsui, who is batting .171 against left-handers this season, was held out of the starting lineup for a second consecutive day against Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson. Manager Bob Geren said Matsui will start Tuesday's contest.
Mark Ellis, who has four hits in his past 10 at-bats, entered Monday's game in Texas with a .348 career mark at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He went 0-for-3.