<
>

Injured-ravaged Oakland acquires Cust as insurance

Scrambling to fill the gap created by a month-long rash of injuries, the Oakland Athletics have agreed to a deal for outfielder Jack Cust, a 28-year-old veteran minor leaguer who has always been known as a good offensive player, from the San Diego Padres for a player to be named or cash.

Cust, who was batting .295 for Triple-A Portland, could get a chance to fill in for Mike Piazza as the designated hitter. Piazza sprained a shoulder during Oakland's game against the Red Sox Wednesday night and could be out until the All-Star break -- just the latest injury in an injury-filled season for the Athletics.

So far this year, Oakland has lost outfielders Mark Kotsay, Milton Bradley, Nick Swisher, Bobby Kielty and right-handed starters Rich Harden and Esteban Loaiza, at one time or another.

Cust has 144 at-bats in the majors, with five homers and a .331 on-base percentage. He had three at-bats with the Padres in 2006.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.