OAKLAND -- The reigning American League manager of the year had some glowing praise for the guy managing the other team at the O.co Coliseum for the next four days before today's series opener:
"He's probably the best manager in baseball right now."
That's A's manager Bob Melvin talking about Giants manager Bruce Bochy (pictured, arguing with umpire Alfonso Marquez). Both, of course, led their teams to division titles last season with Bochy guiding his to a second World Series title in three seasons. Melvin said his impression of the Giants is of an extremely "confident" team and that it's something that has rubbed off from Bochy.
Bochy struck back with: "I've known Bob for a while -- great baseball man that does a great job managing. He got (the A's) on track last year and did a tremendous job."
Now that that's out of the way, the Giants and A's begin their four-day, home-and-home series in Oakland today, meaning Buster Posey gets a day at DH for the Giants. That's partly so Posey can catch left-hander Mike Kickham tomorrow when Kickham makes his major-league debut in place of injured starter Ryan Vogelsong. Marco Scutaro will DH for the Giants tomorrow, Bochy said.
Here are the lineups for today:
From the Giants pre-game: Angel Pagan (hamstring) is out of the lineup but available to pinch-hit, Bochy said, though if Pagan were to pinch-hit and reach base the Giants would need to have somebody run for him. Bochy said he's hopeful Pagan, who was on the field doing pre-game work, will be able to start tomorrow.
Kickham is not in Oakland yet - Bochy said the Giants wanted him to get a good night's sleep last night rather than rush to get here for an early game. "He's all set to go tomorrow, though," Bochy said. Melvin said the A's don't have much of a book on the left-hander, who has started 10 games at Triple-A Fresno this season but none against Sacramento.
Bochy said the Giants have not settled on a surgery date for Santiago Casilla, who will have a cyst removed from his right knee. Bochy said Jeremy Affeldt will be the primary reliever filling Casilla's late-inning role, with Chad Gaudin and Jean Machi the options for matching up against right-handers.
Pablo Sandoval is still trying to shed the flu he's had for nearly a week. Bochy said Gregor Blanco is now sick, too, though Blanco is leading off today and playing center with Pagan out. "I might've been Typhoid Mary bringing this thing in," Bochy said of the flu in the Giants clubhouse. "It's a bad crud."
And from the A's pre-game: Outfielder Josh Reddick (wrist) is leaving today for a rehab assignment that will likely last at least four days, Melvin said. Reddick was on his way to Single-A Stockton today and will likely join the Triple-A River Cats tomorrow. Melvin said the length of the assignment is up in the air. "He and I want him to feel good about what he's doing," Melvin said. "Sometimes that happens quickly if you get a couple hits right away and sometimes that takes a little bit."
Melvin said Jed Lowrie, who played yesterday after missing three games with a right foot contusion, is still feeling some soreness. But the foot is "nothing he can re-injure just running around," so Lowrie's in there batting fifth.
Chris Young is batting second after a Houston series in which he went 6-for-15 with a home run at five RBIs. Young is still at .198 for the season. But Melvin said, "It seems like his at-bats are more consistent now. ... You would like to think that that would carry over, because he is a pretty talented guy, and we haven't seen the best of what Chris Young has to offer until that Houston series." Young also has good lifetime numbers against Bumgarner: 7-for-14 with a home run and three walks.
The A's and Giants play two games in Oakland, two in San Francisco, and then don't see each other again the rest of the season. Both managers said they hadn't given much thought to the format. The only oddity came with today's series opener being a day game due to the Memorial Day holiday. The A's, just back from their road trip, decided not to hit on the field before the game.