Spring surprise Buck makes A's roster

OAKLAND, Calif. -- General manager Billy Beane has gone with
youth so many times and seen it pay off for the Oakland Athletics.

This year, Travis Buck was the surprise of the spring. The
23-year-old outfielder made the A's Opening Day roster and is
slated to start in right field Monday for his major league debut
against the Seattle Mariners as he returns to his home state for
the first time as a big leaguer.

"Obviously I'm very shocked. Unfortunately with all the
injuries to the guys, me having a great spring training opened a
lot of eyes," said Buck, whose family and friends will make the
approximately five-hour drive from Richland, Wash., to Safeco
Field. "Coming into spring training they told me I didn't have a
chance to make the team. ... I had nothing to lose and a whole lot
to gain."

The A's placed right-hander Esteban Loaiza on the 15-day
disabled list Sunday with tightness beneath the shoulder blade on
his throwing arm. Loaiza was scratched with the problem Thursday in
Sacramento and again Saturday. He will travel to Seattle with the
team and try to throw Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. If that goes
well, he would start a game for Triple-A Sacramento on Thursday and
pitch five or six innings.

"I'm feeling better," Loaiza said. "There's still tightness
and it's sore from being treated and deep-tissue massage. It's
better for me to take care of it now."

Milton Bradley, who has been nursing a sore right side in recent
days, is slated to start in center field with Mark Kotsay on the
disabled list for up to three months recovering from back surgery.
Outfielder Bobby Kielty also missed time in March recovering from
arthroscopic knee surgery.

Shannon Stewart will be the left fielder and Nick Swisher, who
spent most of the spring in the outfield, will play first as Dan
Johnson recovers from a serious hip injury.

Buck led the A's with 21 hits during the exhibition season,
batting .339 with one home run, one triple, six doubles and nine
RBIs in 23 games. He drew nine walks and struck out seven times in
62 at-bats, while scoring 11 runs.

"First, he's played his way onto the team," Beane said. "His
performance was as good as anybody's in camp. Also you combine it
with a couple of the injuries we've had. We're very conservative
with a young player like that, but I think the people who have been
around Travis, he's pretty unique for a young guy. Real good makeup
and we think he'll be able to handle the responsibility of being a
major leaguer at this point in his career."

Also making the team were left-hander Lenny DiNardo and
infielder Todd Walker, who was signed to a minor league contract
Friday after the San Diego Padres cut him Tuesday.