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Notes: Athletics bloom in June

Notes: Athletics bloom in June

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NEW YORK -- Eric Chavez chooses not to ponder why the A's, since 2002, have kicked into high gear in June to begin a run toward the top of the American League West.

And the six-time Gold Glove third baseman won't make any predictions about what might become of the 2007 A's.

This year isn't much different from any other since 2002. The A's had a 39-33 record when they took the field to play the Mets at Shea Stadium on Saturday night, and their June mark stood at 13-7.

"It's hard to say," Chavez said when asked about this year's team. "I hate comparisons. I hate comparing teams year after year. There are always bumps and bruises, and it's never the same. I don't know why we've done it in the past. I only care that we've been competitive and that we have won ballgames. Why we have done it is not really for me to worry about. Let everybody else figure it out."

The A's were 18-8 last June and won their division with a 93-69 record. They were 19-8 two Junes ago and finished second, with 88 wins. Oakland was 17-10 in June 2004 and took second place, with 91 wins. In 2003, a 15-12 June led to a 96-win season and a division title, and in 2002, the team was a remarkable 21-7 in June en route to winning 103 games.

True, the team hasn't won an American League pennant during those seasons. But, like Chavez said, they've been competitive. Very competitive.

"The team we're putting on the field right now is a good team,'' first-year manager Bob Geren, the third skipper in this stretch of soaring Junes, said. "If we get a couple of our pitchers back, it'll be even better."

Geren is hopeful that Rich Harden, who came off the disabled list on Thursday, and Huston Street, the injured closer, will be back to their proper spots in a short amount of time.

The fact that Oakland, a small-market team, has lost many talented pitchers and position players to free agency and trades and still managed to finish with good records has been well documented.

Shortstop Bobby Crosby cites the fact that every year, the A's have strong pitching and defense almost from the get-go and offenses that eventually caught fire as the keys to success.

"This is the time we turn it on," Crosby said. "When you have a pitching staff like we have, if we go out and score a few runs, we'll have a chance to win. As soon as we get on a roll is when our offense gets on a roll. If our offense is hot, we have a very good chance to win."

Crosby suggested the A's may have slow starters. He and Chavez agree that the team has had a great mix of young talent sprinkled with veterans over the past few seasons and that the chemistry has been A-plus.

"That is the one thing that has always been the common denominator," Chavez said of the chemistry. "Whether that has anything to do with it, I have no idea."

Maybe no one has the answer, but the A's are having another nice June, and that gives them reason to believe.

No comment on no-trade: A's general manager Billy Beane on Saturday chose not to comment on the trade with Kansas City that fell apart when the Royals learned that outfielder Milton Bradley had sustained an injury to his oblique in his last game with Oakland.

The A's were prepared to send Bradley, whom they designated for assignment on Thursday, to Kansas City for pitcher Leo Nunez on Friday.

"I'm not going to have any comment it right now," Beane said by telephone from California. "I am not going to comment on what happened, or what might happen. I may have more to say in a few days."

The A's had 10 days from the time they designated Bradley to either trade him or set him free. Hampered by injuries, the veteran had appeared in just 19 games with Oakland when he was moved.

Street update: Street, who has been receiving treatment in Toronto since being placed on the DL on May 15 with irritation in his right ulnar nerve, plans to join the team in Cleveland on Thursday.

Street, who had nine saves in 11 opportunities, hasn't been throwing. He's expected to start working out with his team, but when he'll pitch again is unknown.

Harden's plan: Geren said that Harden, who threw 15 pitches in a 1-2-3 inning of relief work on Friday, may throw two innings of relief in Cleveland on Monday.

Harden had been disabled since April with a strain in his right shoulder.

A standing ovation: Geren had Mike Piazza, a fan favorite here during his days with the Mets from 1998 through 2005, take the A's lineup card to home plate before Saturday's game.

Piazza smiled and tipped his cap while fans stood and cheered. The music on the stadium's loud sound system was "Voodoo Child," the Jimi Hendrix rendition of the song Piazza used when he stepped to the plate.

"I appreciate Bob giving me the opportunity [to bring out the lineup card]," said Piazza. "It was a cool idea. I didn't really think I would be received that well, but it was great. It was really cool. It's just really flattering, and I'm honored to be welcomed back here."

Happy anniversary: It was on June 24, 1979, that Rickey Henderson, who made his fame with the A's and who currently works with Mets as a special instructor, made his Major League debut, against the Texas Rangers. Henderson faced John Henry Johnson, went 2-for-4 that day and stole the first base in a career during which he established the Major League record of 1,406 stolen bases -- a record that may never be broken.

On deck: The A's wrap up Interleague Play when they play the Mets at 10:10 p.m. PT at Shea Stadium on Sunday. Left-hander Joe Kennedy (2-4, 3.62 ERA) takes the mound for Oakland, and right-hander John Maine (7-4, 2.90) is scheduled to pitch for the Mets.

Kit Stier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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