Piazza to miss 4-6 weeks with strained right shoulder

BOSTON -- Oakland designated hitter Mike Piazza is expected to be sidelined 4-to-6 weeks with a strained right shoulder injured Wednesday night when he dove into third base in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid being tagged.

With two outs in the sixth and runners at first and second, Bobby Crosby hit a grounder to Boston third baseman Mike Lowell. Piazza and Lowell both hustled for the bag and collided near it. Piazza was tagged out and stayed on the ground in pain for a short time.

"It's frustrating," said Piazza, his arm in a sling. "I felt
like I was starting to swing the bat a little better and it's a
tough setback. It's really frustrating."

Piazza, who signed as a free agent after spending the previous
14 seasons in the National League, is batting .282 after going
2-for-3 in the Athletics' 6-4 loss to the Red Sox. He hit safely in
his last six games but is just 14-for-59 in his last 15.

The injury delays Piazza's adjustment to a new league and its
pitchers. Oakland's cleanup hitter has one homer this season and is
39th in major league history with 421.

"I just wanted to get my at-bats in now and just keep seeing pitching," he said.

"Tonight was something you can't avoid," Oakland assistant general manager David Forst said. "It's not a muscle pull. Mike's playing the game hard and so is Lowell. It's unfortunate. Mike is starting to swing the bat well."

Oakland addressed Piazza's absence Thursday by acquiring outfielder Jack Cust from the San Diego Padres.

Cust, a 28-year-old veteran minor leaguer, has always been known as a good offensive player. He was batting .295 for Triple-A Portland and could get a chance to fill in for Piazza as the DH.

Oakland was leading 3-2 when Crosby grounded to Lowell. Piazza
thought Lowell would throw to first and that was Lowell's initial
intention, but he saw his best chance was to race Piazza to third.

Piazza said he saw "a little sliver of daylight" and dove
headfirst rather than slide feet first. He first thought he had
separated his shoulder, but the injury later was diagnosed as a
strained AC joint.

"He just kind of landed on my arm," Piazza said. "It's just a
freak thing, just a freak play, and he was obviously concerned."

Lowell lingered briefly at the base.

"When I said, 'are you all right?' he said, 'It's my arm, my
arm,'" said Lowell, who called the Oakland clubhouse to see if
Piazza was OK. "You hate to hear he's going to be out."

Piazza will join six other players on the disabled list,
including four outfielders.

"It's just sort of a freaky thing," he said, "but we were
keeping our heads above water and that's the thing that really
hurts. I felt like I took a couple of good swings tonight."

Oakland fell to 13-14 after splitting the two-game series, 2˝
games behind Los Angeles in the AL West.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.