OAKLAND -- Since the As broke camp a few weeks ago and headed north to start the season, Eric OFlaherty has remained in Arizona immersed in the monotony of Tommy John rehab -- wake up, work out, throw a bullpen, do rehab exercises, repeat.
So Saturday morning provided a welcome respite -- OFlaherty, the left-handed reliever the As signed to a two-year deal over the offseason knowing he wont be available until midseason at the earliest, threw a bullpen in front of manager Bob Melvin and trainers at the Coliseum.
OFlaherty said he threw "30-something" pitches, including some breaking balls from a shorter distance, a small step forward in his recovery from the May 2013 surgery. Its all about small steps right now for OFlaherty, who said hes in Oakland for this weekends series against Houston mostly so the As staff can get a look at his progress.
Melvin said OFlaherty looked "really good. You can see what hes got to offer and its pretty exciting. Well take it on the pace weve been taking it, but it was good to see him throw his breaking balls and full complement."
Theres still no firm timetable for OFlaherty pitching in games, but Melvin said he could start throwing to hitters by the time the As return from their next road trip. Next time he throws a bullpen, hell likely throw the breaking pitches at full distance, Melvin said.
"Those feel good," OFlaherty said of the breaking pitches. "Thats a big hurdle, I think more mentally than physically, but its a good thing to get some of those snapped off."
OFlaherty was one of baseballs most dominant relievers over the last three seasons in Atlanta, recording a 1.45 ERA in 161 appearances -- the lowest among major-league relievers with 125 or more innings. Saturday was his first time throwing at the Coliseum and the first time hed seen most of the As since spring training.
"Thats probably the hardest part about being down in Arizona is just being away from the guys," OFlaherty said. "I couldnt stop smiling when I walked in the clubhouse today and saw everybody. So obviously you want to be back as soon as possible, but you want to do it right and just make sure youre healthy when you come back."
* No Coco Crisp in the lineup today for the As. Melvin said thats again a precautionary move -- Crisps left wrist has bothered him when swinging right-handed, and while hes better, Melvin said he wants to make sure Crisp is as close to 100 percent as possible.
"I would think either today or tomorrow would be a full go with him from both sides of the plate," Melvin said.
Heres the As lineup today behind Scott Kazmir:
And the Astros lineup behind left-hander Brett Obertholtzer:
* Melvin said he doesnt expect any carryover from Fridays exchange of words between Jed Lowrie and Astros manager Bo Porter. That came after Lowrie bunted for a hit in the first inning with the As up 7-0 and Houston playing a shift. Lowrie was out on the play and took exception when the Astros appeared to throw at him in the third inning, which led Porter to come out of the Houston dugout and start jawing at Lowrie.
"They tried to hit him, they didnt get him, and its over, right?" Melvin said. "Thats the way I see it."
Porter was asked this morning about the incident and said: "Im going to say the same thing I said last night -- nothing happened yesterday."
Lowrie said Friday night he felt the bunt was all right under the circumstances because it was still the first inning -- plenty of time for Houston to close a seven-run deficit -- and the Astros had shifted their infield, making the bunt a sensible (even smart) play.
"If Im on the other side, maybe it perturbs me a little bit," Melvin said. "But its still the first inning. So that ones probably in between, so you understand both sides of that.
"What happened a little later was probably more inappropriate. But hopefully we can just move on. I dont think its that big an issue, to tell you the truth."
* Despite using only two relievers in Friday nights 11-3 win, Melvin said the As still arent at full strength in the bullpen after playing back-to-back extra-inning games to end their road trip. He said theyre "probably down one, one and a half guys" today, though he didnt specify who he wants to stay away from.
* With two errors Friday night, the As have committed 11 in their last seven games and 16 on the season, which is tied with Cleveland for the most in the A.L. Before Fridays game they held a team defensive session with cut-offs, relays and infield drills, which is something Melvin said will likely become more regular.
"Its my fault -- you leave spring training, where youre doing team defense every day, and now you get into the season where youre doing more individual stuff and you need to keep doing some team defense," Melvin said. "Were a better defensive team than weve showed here recently."