Prior to Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Twins at the Metrodome on Tuesday, the A's announced that Haren will pitch Game 3 in Oakland on Friday, with Harden scheduled for Game 4 on Saturday if it's needed.
"I think it's a good thing for both guys," said Oakland pitching coach Curt Young. "You want your guys as confident and comfortable as possible as far as their preparation goes, and this will be more comfortable for Rich and Danny."
After the A's clinched the American League West title last week, they were leaning toward starting Harden in Game 3, Haren in Game 4. But Harden, who spent the bulk of the season on the disabled list, was shaky on Sunday in his third start back from a strained elbow ligament, prompting the change.
"I thought he struggled with his release point," Macha said of Harden, who walked six and gave up six runs over 3 2/3 innings at Anaheim in the regular-season finale. "It was a mechanical thing. Physically he's fine. ... We felt like with two [bullpen sessions], we'll be able to get that straightened out.
"Ideally, it would have been good if Rich was absolutely lights-out [Sunday], but he wasn't. If we send him out there [for Game 3] and he pitches like he did in Anaheim, that's not good for anybody."
Added Young: "Coming back from an injury, sometimes four days doesn't seem like enough between outings. So we'll do a lot of dry work with his mechanics; it's kind of like shadow boxing, working without a ball. That gets Rich feeling good about himself, and he'll be fine come Saturday."
Haren, after allowing three runs on eight hits over six innings in his final start of the regular season on Saturday, expressed some reservations about having six days off before his first playoff assignment.
"Saturday to Saturday, that changes your routine quite a bit," he explained. "I think everybody would prefer to stick as close to their routine as possible."
Haren's ideal routine includes four days of rest; he went 9-6 with a 3.21 ERA in his 20 starts on four days of rest this season. He was 5-7 with a 5.50 ERA in his 14 other starts.
Dirty is good: As Macha noted in his Monday press conference, the A's had some problems with the Metrodome roof when they played here in the 2003 ALDS. Then-first baseman Scott Hatteberg lost a popup that fell about 15 feet away from him, and another ball fell in when two fielders collided.
Center fielder Mark Kotsay conceded that the Teflon-coated fiberglass that covers the dome presents a challenge.
"It's tougher for day games, because the light comes through the roof and makes it that much whiter," he said during batting practice. "And the dirtier the roof is, the better, because the whiter the roof is, the harder it is to pick up the ball."
That said, Kotsay suggested that the roof shouldn't be a problem -- particularly for veterans.
"You just have to concentrate right off the bat," he said. "You do that, you should be OK. The balls that will give you trouble are the ones where you have to take your eye off it to get to a certain spot and pick it back up, but we've been here enough to be somewhat comfortable with that."
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"There's not too many left-handers in the league who get their left-handers out," said Macha. "[If such situations arise], I'm gonna go with my best pitcher, and that's probably gonna be Duke."
That would be righty setup man Justin Duchscherer, against whom Mauer and Morneau are a combined 1-for-5 with a walk. Mauer walked in his only at-bat against Kennedy this year, and Morneau is 1-for-2 with a double and two RBIs against Kennedy this season.
Dribblers: First baseman Nick Swisher did a little more running around during batting practice than he normally does. "Trying to burn these butterflies off," he explained. ... Macha said the clubhouse was as loose as ever before the game. "I got here at 8 a.m. and the music was playing and guys were eating and playing cards," he said. "I don't think the personality of the club has changed much at all." ... Utility man Hiram Bocachica, who made the first-round roster in the wake of backup infielder Antonio Perez's broken finger, spent part of batting practice taking grounders at third base. Bocachica was an outfielder for most of his season at Triple-A Sacramento. ... Macha and Young both said they don't anticipate using closer Huston Street for two innings in any particular game. "The bullpen's in good shape," Young said. "We haven't done that to Huston for a while, and we're set up so we shouldn't have to." ... Catcher Jeremy Brown isn't on the playoff roster but is one of several A's traveling with the team as insurance against injuries. "I've got no pressure, and I have the best seat in the house," Brown said while playing catch with Harden before the game. ... Former A's catcher Terry Steinbach, a Minnesota native, visited with several Oakland coaches behind the batting cage before the game.
Coming up: A's righty Esteban Loaiza (11-9, 4.89 ERA) will take on Twins righty Boof Bonser (7-6, 4.22 ERA) in Game 2 on Wednesday. The first pitch is set for 10:05 a.m. PT.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less