Notes: Former A looks to up record

Notes: Former A dominant at McAfee Coliseum

OAKLAND -- Lewis Wolff owns the A's, but Kenny Rogers owns the A's.

Rogers, slated to start Wednesday's game for the Tigers, is a good enough pitcher to have twice made the All-Star squad and has won at least 13 games in five of the past six seasons, but his success both in and against Oakland is mind-boggling.

The 41-year-old lefty spent a season and a half with the A's, compiling a 15-0 record pitching in McAfee Coliseum for the home team in 1998 and '99.

As a visitor here, his record is 9-3, and overall he's done better pitching against the A's (19-7) than he has against any other American League club.

Rogers, in his first season with Detroit after spending most of the past six seasons with Texas, expressed no interest in discussing his success here. Perhaps, as A's third baseman Eric Chavez suggested, there is just no explaining it.

"I guess some guys just get comfortable in a ballpark," said Chavez, the only Oakland hitter left who was an A's teammate of Rogers. "He's been the same since I've known him. He's a real competitor and he keeps his team in a ballgame."

He did more than that last year with Texas, at least on trips to the Bay Area. He won all three of his starts in Oakland last year while compiling a 1.27 ERA.

"I think he feels real good about himself here," manager Ken Macha said. "When he was back in Texas and returned here, he told me 'It feels nice here, nice and cool.'

"This time, we've got a couple of different hitters in there and hopefully they'll make him uncomfortable."

Under the gun: In the earliest days of this season, the scoreboard speed gun was laughably inaccurate. During the opening series against New York, it showed Justin Duchscherer striking out Alex Rodriguez on a pitch allegedly moving 74 mph, when in reality it was a cut fastball humming along closer to 86 mph.

The radar gun readings remain an issue because Tuesday's starter, Esteban Loaiza, has been battling to regain velocity on his fastball, and getting instant feedback on that effort isn't easy with faulty hardware.

The stadium crew was tinkering to get things right before Sunday's loss to Texas, and Macha said he thinks the glitches have been fixed.

The team uses a different radar gun than the one that shows on the scoreboard, so it's not like the A's have been handicapped. Still, players say it can be a useful tool.

"It definitely gives you a good reading of how you're doing," pitcher Rich Harden said. "If I'm throwing nice and easy, it's good to see if the velocity is there. If I'm looking to throw harder, some days it tells me I can't get that extra little bit."

Harden knows the scoreboard gun is not precise, especially when a right-handed hitter is in the box against a right-handed hitter.

But even when the readings are off, Macha said, the gun can come in handy.

"What you use it for is separation on the changeup," he said. "You want that 10 mph difference. If you throw everything the same speed, hitters get comfortable. You want that 10 mph to slow down their bats."

For catcher Jason Kendall, the scoreboard speed reading is a bigger help to hitters than to pitchers.

"Guys use it, especially early. A pitch might come in on the corner and you'll go, 'What the heck was that?'" Kendall said. "Then you look up and see what he's got."

Plus, Kendall said, "You don't want your pitcher looking at it. It's not about how hard you throw it, it's where you put it."

Still, just about every pitcher sneaks an occasional peek at the scoreboard display.

"You see (Barry) Zito check it after he throws something slow," Macha said, "and all the other pitchers on the bench give him the business about it."

Explaining the lineup: Macha gave Kendall Tuesday off, in part to give Kendall a break and in part because the team for now has made Adam Melhuse Loaiza's personal catcher.

As for Dan Johnson, he remains on the bench even though Macha had said Sunday that the first baseman, with one hit in 31 at-bats (.031) would be in the lineup against Detroit.

That's still likely to happen, Macha said, but not until Thursday.

"He took extra hitting, and I watched him," Macha said. "His swing looks a little better but in my mind he needs a couple days more."

Specifically, Macha said, Johnson is "coming up on it a bit and beating the ball into the ground instead of driving through it."

Looking ahead: To counter Detroit's Rogers, the A's will go with RHP Joe Blanton (1-1, 4.50 ERA), making his third start of the year and getting his first career look at the Tigers.

Tony Kuttner is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.