A’s manager Bob Melvin said Monday it remains unclear whether reliever Ryan Cook will start the season on the 25-man roster, given the pitcher’s shoulder issues early this spring.
Cook, the A’s main right-handed setup man last year, has yet to throw a bullpen session, and Melvin said he thinks “it’s going to be close” regarding Cook’s availability for the March 31 opener against Cleveland at O.co Coliseum.
“It’ll be down to the wire, probably,” Melvin said. “We still hold out hope that that could be the case.”
Cook sounded optimistic that he will be ready. He has been on a throwing program that included playing catch from 105 feet Monday morning and has his first bullpen scheduled for Thursday.
“I feel really good, feel strong,” Cook said. “I’m able to throw the baseball whatever (distance) they’re asking me to throw at that day.”
Both Melvin and Cook said there is no set number of Cactus League appearances Cook would need to be ready for the opener. The A’s have taken it slowly with Cook’s workload partly because of their bullpen depth. Newly acquired Luke Gregerson and returnee Dan Otero are other right-handed options for Melvin in late innings.
“I don’t think that’s outside the realm of possibility at all,” Cook said of his Opening Day availability. “In fact, I’m pretty confident I will be ready.”
Punto, who spent last season and part of 2012 with the Dodgers, fouled off three full-count fastballs from Kershaw before lining a single over the head of Dee Gordon into right-center field.
“An absolute dogfight,” Punto said. “He came at me. I kind of knew he would. That’s his style. … It was definitely good to see that many pitches from as hard-throwing a lefty as you’re going to see.”
Melvin said the at-bat may give Punto “bragging rights” over Kershaw for the time being. Punto said he probably won’t use them. “He’s way too competitive,” Punto said. “I’ll just tell him he owes me dinner or something.”
“That’s the way we need to do things,” Melvin said. “You get a guy like Kershaw in the regular season, a lot of times it’s going to be tough to put up runs against him, so you try to make him throw as many pitches as you can.”