CHICAGO — The A's found a way to spice up what's been a dreary 1-4 road trip so far.
Today they'll welcome to the mound right-hander Vin Mazzaro, the final piece to their trio of pitching sensations from spring training.
Before Monday's 6-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox, manager Bob Geren announced that Mazzaro will be called up from Triple-A Sacramento to start tonight at U.S. Cellular Field in his major league debut.
Adding Mazzaro, 22, to a rotation that already includes 21-year-olds Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson shows the A's are aware it might be time to look ahead to 2010. But Geren was adamant the A's aren't turning the page on 2009 just yet.
"Honestly, I think he gives us the best chance to win, if he's 20 years old or 30 years old," Geren said.
Cahill took the ball Monday looking to set the tone in the opener of a four-game series with the White Sox. He was decent over 52/3 innings and left with the score tied 2-2. But Jim Thome's three-run shot off Santiago Casilla in the eighth was the difference.
A's left fielder Matt Holliday was the early story of the game, drilling a two-run homer in the top of the first. Then he turned in a terrific catch in the bottom of the inning, leaping to make an over-the-wall grab of Paul Konerko's deep drive.
His play was matched when Chicago center fielder DeWayne Wise jumped high to nab Jack Cust's drive at the top of the wall in left-center in the sixth, another of several defensive gems on the night.
Casilla continued his struggles since returning from a sprained right knee. He's made nine appearances since coming off the DL on May 15 and has allowed 11 earned runs in eight innings.
He tried bouncing a 1-2 slider to Thome but instead left it over the plate, and Thome swatted career homer No. 550. Kevin Cameron walked in another run to make it 6-2.
Today's focus will be on Mazzaro. He made a bid this spring to join Anderson and Cahill, who made the A's season-opening rotation with no prior major league experience.
Geren also relayed that two-time All-Star Justin Duchscherer, on the DL after elbow surgery, hasn't thrown in more than a week because of a sore lower back. Perhaps that persuaded the A's even more that Mazzaro's time had come.
Geren said today isn't a one-shot audition; Mazzaro is in the rotation for the foreseeable future.
Mazzaro was 2-2 with a 2.38 ERA in 10 appearances with Sacramento. Over his past four starts, he allowed just one run with 21 strikeouts and four walks.
Geren said it was tough drawing comparisons between Anderson and Cahill, and Mazzaro.
"We'll get a chance to (compare) now though, because they're all facing the same competition," Geren said. "We're looking forward to watching this young, talented rotation going out there every five days."
Cahill and Mazzaro are tight, having roomed together for a period in the minors. Cahill said Mazzaro's background — he's a native of Hackensack, N.J. — should help.
"I think he should fit in perfectly," Cahill said. "He's got that New Jersey attitude. He's cocky, you know? It's just how he is. That's the biggest adjustment, knowing you belong here."
The A's must clear a spot on the 25-man and 40-man rosters. Geren said Edgar Gonzalez would move from the rotation to the bullpen, but he could be a candidate for the minors.
Contact Joe Stiglich at firstname.lastname@example.org.