Notes: Spotlight shines on Suzuki
Street throws simulated game; Loaiza tosses in bullpen
OAKLAND -- When the A's shipped Jason Kendall, one of their clubhouse leaders and most respected veterans, to the Cubs on Monday afternoon, it vaulted rookie Kurt Suzuki from a rarely used backup into the role of everyday catcher.
"I'm looking forward to [it]," Suzuki said before the opener of a three-game series against the visiting Rangers at McAfee Coliseum. "Now it's all about getting comfortable. I can't say enough about what I learned from Jason. He's the best game-caller in baseball."
A's general manager Billy Beane and manager Bob Geren agreed with Suzuki's assessment of Kendall, but both sounded confident that the youngster is ready for the challenge of guiding Oakland's talented staff.
"To not acknowledge Jason's impact of the pitching staff would be foolish," Beane said. "But that's something that's learned, anyway, and that's part of the process for Kurt. ... He's going to get his baptism by fire. He's a guy we've been high on for a while and it's all part of the process for a young player."
"Jason's a veteran guy; he's been in the game a long time, he's been through a lot of everything, and he's got a well-rounded background," Geren said. "But Kurt's learned a lot from Jason and [pitching coach] Curt Young. ... I think Kurt's going to do a fine job both offensively and defensively He's shown incredible athletic ability behind the plate.
"He's ready for this opportunity."
A's ace Dan Haren thinks so, too.
"For the three years I've been here, I've thrown to Jason every time but maybe two or three starts," he said. "So it'll definitely be an adjustment period, but we're lucky to have a guy like Kurt."
Suzuki, a second-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, opened the season at Triple-A Sacramento and was batting .280 with three homers and 27 RBIs in 55 games for the River Cats when he was called up to Oakland on June 10. He went 7-for-17 over his first six games, but went hitless in his next nine at-bats over four games through Sunday.
"He's gonna do nothing but get better," Geren said. "And he's already a fine catcher."
Mending on the mound: Closer Huston Street, on the disabled list with an irritated nerve in his right elbow since May 13, threw 34 pitches over two innings in a simulated game Monday and is on track to return to the active roster next Monday in Anaheim.
"I let loose, and it felt fine," said Street, who hadn't faced a live batter in two months and four days.
Street said the next step in his rehab will be another simulated game on Wednesday, but Street and Geren were a little unsure about where the work would take place. The A's have a day game at home Wednesday.
"I think I might go to [Class A] Stockton; it's hard to get out there before a day game here," Street said. "And if that goes well, I'll probably make an appearance [in a Minor League game] Saturday, then be ready to go Monday."
Street's Minor League outing likely will be at Sacramento.
In other health-related pitching news, righty Esteban Loaiza, who has been on the DL all year, initially because of a bulging disk in his neck but more recently while recovering from surgery on his right knee, threw in the bullpen for the first time since the procedure and said he felt good afterward.
Dribblers: Third baseman Eric Chavez was a late scratch from the lineup with lower-back stiffness. Second baseman Mark Ellis, who was scheduled to get the night off while Marco Scutaro filled in, was moved into the lineup while Scutaro was moved to the hot corner. ... Mike Piazza, who is 7-for-17 with two doubles in three rehab games with Sacramento, was with the A's on Monday while the River Cats traveled to Colorado Springs. Piazza will resume working his way back from a shoulder injury Tuesday with Stockton. ... The A's recalled lefty Dallas Braden to start against the Rangers on Monday and designated righty Colby Lewis for assignment. Oakland also activated righty Connor Robertson off the DL and optioned him to Sacramento. ... In the wake of the Kendall trade, the A's were without a backup catcher for the night Monday. Geren said outfielder Bobby Kielty or first baseman Dan Johnson would be used in an emergency.
Up next: A's righty Chad Gaudin (8-4, 3.18 ERA) takes on Rangers righty Robinson Tejeda (5-8, 6.70 ERA) on Tuesday in the second game of the series. The first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. PT.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. Matt Smith is an associate reporter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.