Playing time becomes a rare commodity for Cust

Designated hitter Jack Cust was out of the A's lineup Wednesday for the fifth time in six games, though manager Bob Geren hasn't indicated Cust is an odd man out in the DH/outfield rotation.

With Coco Crisp back from the disabled list and playing center field, there's less playing time to go around. Because right-handed hitters had fared better against Cincinnati right-hander Johnny Cueto, Geren went with Conor Jackson at DH and Rajai Davis in left field for Wednesday's 3-0 loss to the Reds.

But Gabe Gross, who hits left-handed, got the nod in right field over Cust. Geren also went with Gross as the designated hitter on Tuesday because Gross had enjoyed prior success against Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who started that game.

Geren has said he'll try to mix and match his outfielders and DH as best he can. Cust is hitting .278, but he has just two homers and 10 RBIs in 97 at-bats since being called up from Triple-A Sacramento on May 15.

"They've got some guys that are getting at-bats that need at-bats," Cust said. "I thought I was going to be in there today. "... The power will come. I know I'm going to hit home runs."

  • Pitchers Joey Devine and Josh Outman have both suffered setbacks in their recoveries from elbow ligament replacement surgery, and both are being re-examined by Dr. James Andrews, who performed their operations.

    "They'll both be shut down for a fairly extended period of time," Geren said.


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    Devine had hopes during spring training of rejoining the bullpen early in the season before having complications. Outman was targeting a comeback after the All-Star break.

    Devine had his surgery in April 2009, and Outman had his procedure roughly two months later.

  • Geren said a tentative timetable would have Brett Anderson (left elbow tendinitis) returning to the rotation 30-35 days after he began throwing, which was last Thursday. If things go as planned, Anderson could return a week or so after the All-Star break by that estimate.

  • Starting pitcher Vin Mazzaro lasted seven innings Wednesday, allowing two runs on six hits with one walk. He snapped a 19-start streak in which he pitched six innings or less, which was an Oakland record. ... Reliever Craig Breslow entered with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth and escaped unscored upon.

    — JOE STIGLICH