Notes: Street ready for closer role

Notes: Street ready for closer role

SEATTLE -- Huston Street has reached the end of the road. He believes his journey back to a healthy right elbow and assuming the A's closer role has been completed.

"I'm ready today if they want to put me back in there,'' said Street before Saturday's game against the Mariners.

It's been a more than a two-month struggle to get back his competitive form after dealing with an ulnar nerve issue in the elbow. Street was on the disabled list from May 13 to July 23. He had one rehab assignment (20 pitches) with Triple-A Sacramento and two simulated games before he was activated.

Since his return, he has had two one-inning outings and was expected to pitch Saturday.

"He was good the first time out and even better the second time,'' A's manager Bob Geren said. "I felt, in my head, like I have to see three or four games before I switch roles, just to make sure he's ready.''

Alan Embree has taken over the closer role in Street's absence. Embree has 11 saves, one short of the team record for left-handers. He has blown just two save opportunities.

"We might mix it up the first time or two, then turn it fully over [to Street],'' Geren added. "It's one of the better situations we've had all year -- two guys who can throw. Actually three, when you put Santiago [Casilla] in there.''

Street said the decision is up to the coaching staff. He said the A's may want to see how he holds up in back-to-back outings.

"I pretty much go on how my body feels," Street said. "I could have gone back-to-back [Thursday and Friday]. But I know they want to see if I can do that, just for their own assurance, which is fine with me.''

Street said being sidelined was frustrating, but the process and the progress were steady.

"I read some reports that supposedly I was having elbow soreness. That is not true,'' he said. "I missed Wednesday because of general soreness. That's pretty common, especially after two months on the DL.

"We've been cautious with it, which has been great. It's up to them whether they want to put me back into the closer's role. As far as my status is concerned, I feel great.''

During his down time, Street's biggest problem was staying close to the game mentally. He said he had to trick himself during rehab to maintain his edge.

"That was the biggest game,'' Street said. "Physically, I was taking care of everything, but it's that competitiveness you have to take care of. I had to find ways to stay positive, find ways to show up at the ballpark with a purpose.''

Then there comes the time when he has to test his elbow and decide how it will hold up to the strain.

"At some point you have to get out there and test it -- throw yourself in the fire,'' Street added. "There are no excuses when you come back. It's your choice when you come back because they pretty much rely on how you feel. And when you come back you better be prepared to get people out. You don't want to say, 'Oh well, I missed two months.'

"If you are not ready, I would expect my teammates to say, 'Well, if you're not any better, why did you come back?' Or 'Don't come back and make excuses for your performance.'''

No excuses now. He's back and he's ready.

Lineup shifting: The A's lineup needed some adjustments Saturday because of various factors, mostly dealing with injuries. Just before the game Travis Buck was scratched because of a strained left forearm. He has had some arm issues this season, and this could have flared up while working in the cages before the game.

Also, third baseman Eric Chavez did not start for the second straight game because of back soreness.

"He's still the same. We'll see how it goes,'' Geren said of Chavez. "I just want him to get better. When he's better, we'd like him in the lineup.''

Geren also started Dan Johnson at first base. He hopes a couple days off gave him a mental break. Johnson entered the game on a 1-for-18 slide. Kurt Suzuki started behind the plate in place of Rob Bowen in a day game after a night game.

Loaiza decision: Esteban Loaiza, on the disabled list all season, will rejoin the club Monday in Oakland to discuss his status.

"We'll have two choices,'' Geren said. "He can either throw another simulated game or have one rehab outing for Sacramento.''

Loaiza, who had knee surgery in late May, allowed three hits in a four-inning simulated game Friday in Arizona.

"We might know more Wednesday, once he pitches in a game. We'll be more apt to set a timetable on it,'' Geren said. "Reports are that he's throwing well, so that's encouraging.''

A's log: Sunday will be a Mariners Turn-Back-The-Clock game, back to the team's first season in 1977. Both teams will wear vintage 1970s uniforms. For the A's, that means their vibrant green and gold attire. Asked where he was in 1977, Geren said high school. "Long hair, angel flight pants, polyester shirts, polyester pants, platform shoes, mood rings, pork chop sideburns -- those were the days,'' he said. ... Including Saturday, the A's are facing left-handed starters in four of five games. They were 16-14 in games stated by a lefty entering Saturday.

On deck: The four-game series finale Sunday will feature A's left-hander Lenny DiNardo (5-6, 2.41 ERA) opposed by Mariners southpaw Jarrod Washburn (8-7, 4.05 ERA).

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