A’s manager Bob Melvin announced that left-hander Eric Surkamp will be the team’s starter Friday night in Seattle, taking the place of injured Felix Doubront.
Doubront exited his final spring training start last Saturday with a sprained left elbow and was placed on the disabled list Monday. Surkamp replaced Doubront in Saturday’s exhibition against the Giants and threw seven scoreless innings, a performance that stood out when the A’s were deciding how to fill Doubront’s rotation spot.
"We have some options," Melvin said. "But certainly the way (Surkamp) pitched, we’ll try to ride that confidence into his next start."
Surkamp will be making his first start in the majors since 2013 with the Giants. He spent most of last season in Triple-A with the White Sox and Dodgers organizations and joined the A’s this spring as a non-roster invitee to camp, where he recorded a 3.60 ERA.
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"He’s got some deception," Melvin said. "He’s got kind of a long arm swing that looks like it gets the hitter off-balance a little bit, can pitch up and down and spun the ball pretty well for us. He was impressive all camp."
Doubront is scheduled to travel to Cincinnati for a second opinion on his elbow Monday and said earlier this week surgery had not been ruled out as an option. Another candidate to replace him was Jesse Hahn, but Melvin said the A’s wanted Hahn to get at least one start in Triple-A in Nashville, where they can get a better read on his pitches than in the drier air of Arizona, where Hahn posted an 11.15 ERA this spring.
Melvin said Hahn is scheduled to pitch either Friday or Saturday in Nashville and that, "Starting with his next start we’re open for anything. We’re just going to try to get the best five (starters) here. But the way Surkamp pitched (against the Giants), he deserves to pitch on Friday."
Surkamp will join the A’s in Oakland on Thursday and fly with them to Seattle for their three-game series against the Mariners, Melvin said.
Alvarez update -- Right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who is working his way back from shoulder surgery, faced hitters in a simulated inning Wednesday. He threw 25 pitches, used his entire repertoire and said he felt "relaxed" pitching to hitters for the first time since his surgery last July.
Melvin watched the session and said he was impressed by Alvarez’s arm action, which "really makes the fastball play a little bit. The gun says whatever, but it’s probably getting there a little quicker as far as what the hitter’s seeing." Alvarez faced A’s hitters Andrew Lambo and Mark Canha, who both remarked on his velocity.
The A’s intend to have Alvarez join their rotation as soon as he’s ready and are targeting late May for his arrival. He is scheduled to throw two simulated innings of 15 pitches each Sunday at High-A Stockton, after which the A’s will determine his next step.
"I’m very happy to retake that rhythm, to be able to get in there and pick up right where I left off," Alvarez said through interpreter Alex Arpiza. "The velocity I’m not worried about. Right now I’m just worried about having my arm healthy and having that all taken care of."
Et cetera -- Right-hander Kendall Graveman lost a good amount of weight dealing with the stomach illness that’s going around the A’s clubhouse on Monday night. But Melvin said Graveman "feels good" and should be OK to start Thursday against the White Sox.
Graveman had the same bug that kept A’s ace Sonny Gray from starting Opening Night. Instead, Gray makes his debut Wednesday and will try to play the role of stopper for the A’s, who have lost their first two games by one run each.
"We’ve lost a couple of difficult games, where we’ve done a lot of things right and a couple things wrong," Melvin said. "There’s always that certain confidence you have when your ace is on the mound. We’d love to have had him Opening Day, but today is his Opening Day."