SEATTLE -- It's been a longer-than-usual season for the Oakland A's, as they started Spring Training before just about every team in baseball and began the season well ahead of the others with their March 25 tilt in Tokyo against Boston. It concludes this weekend in Seattle -- mercifully -- as the A's are more than 20 games behind the AL West champion Los Angeles Angels. It's been a painful journey. "I think the injuries have [impacted] us more than anything else," A's manager Bob Geren said. "We've had different injuries throughout the year."
Oakland has used the disabled list a record 25 times this season. The previous high was 22 set in 1992 and matched last season. The A's have had at least three players on the DL every day since the beginning of the '07 season. This year, those DL players have combined to miss 862 games. What that has done, however, is open doors for guys who wouldn't otherwise be here. The A's have had at least four rookies in the batting order in 21 of the last 23 games. They had just six games all year without a rookie in the lineup. The club has used a record 21 rookies. Rookie pitchers have made 55 starts. "These pitchers, [Sean] Gallagher, [Greg] Smith, [Dana] Eveland, [Josh] Outman has been very impressive," Geren said. "Our rotation is young and talented." Besides injuries, the club also has had a series of personnel shuffles with all their trades. The club dispatched Dan Haren before the season, followed by Rich Harden, Chad Gaudin, Nick Swisher and Joe Blanton. The upside again is that it allowed others to step forward. "Ryan Sweeney, Kurt Suzuki have just been tremendous," Geren said. "Jack Hannahan has played a fantastic third base for us. "The bullpen has been great. [Brad] Ziegler coming up and having that streak [a record 39 innings scoreless streak to start his career]. [Joey] Devine with the ERA under 1.00 [0.60]. Jerry Blevins coming up and doing a great job from the left side. Just a lot of bright spots." But the club never found its rhythm. The A's kept up with the Angels early, holding onto first place for a spell. But they fell out of first on May 12 and never returned. They dropped to third on July 25 and stayed there. "We played pretty well in the first half, then we struggled with our pitching," Geren added. "We didn't hit very well in the couple months. Now it turns around in September. We had a streak there where we didn't score enough runs."
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.