A week into Cactus League play, it seems as though the A’s are no closer to bringing their crowded starting rotation picture into focus.
There are ostensibly three starting jobs to be won before Opening Day behind Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir. A’s manager Bob Melvin has now seen most of the candidates pitch in spring games, and said Sunday: “I like ’em all.”
As spring problems go, it’s a good one to have. Right-handers Chris Bassitt and Kendall Graveman – acquired in the Jeff Samardzija and Josh Donaldson trades, respectively – each threw two scoreless innings in their spring debuts. Jesse Hahn, acquired for Derek Norris, allowed two runs in his first start but impressed Melvin with his stuff.
The A’s also have returning options in right-hander Jesse Chavez and left-hander Drew Pomeranz, who started the A’s 10-4 loss Sunday to the Chicago White Sox and pitched two scoreless innings, striking out four batters.
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Both Chavez and Pomeranz have experience pitching out of the bullpen as well and also could make the roster as relievers. But Melvin said that flexibility does not necessarily hurt their chances at winning a rotation spot.
“You’ve got to look at it both ways,” Melvin said. “Both of them have been successful doing both, but they have been here and proven they can pitch in the rotation.”
Pomeranz allowed a first-inning walk to Chicago speedster Adam Eaton and two second-inning singles but escaped both jams. He said his arm felt good and he pitched better after harnessing the adrenaline of making his spring debut.
“My pitches felt sharp,” Pomeranz said. “My fastball was pretty good, my curveball was good. I could feel that. My stuff’s there, I guess … just have to refine everything and get ready for the season.”
Other candidates to help the rotation this season have yet to throw a pitch in the spring. Left-hander Sean Nolin, who is recovering from hernia surgery, threw off flat ground for the first time, Melvin said. Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin are both recovering from Tommy John surgeries and targeting midseason returns.
Parker is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday and if all goes well could face hitters in live batting practice Friday. Griffin is a little further behind. He has thrown only fastballs and changeups, but Melvin said he could start mixing his breaking pitches into throwing sessions soon.
Et cetera – Left fielder Coco Crisp left Sunday’s game after two innings with soreness in his right elbow, Melvin said. Crisp was already not in Monday’slineup and will be checked Tuesday.
▪ Catcher Stephen Vogt will make his spring debut Monday after offseason foot surgery and the A’s are eager to get him back. Vogt caught only 15 games last season because of injuries and the presence of Norris and John Jaso. With Norris and Jaso gone, the A’s are relying on Vogt to be their regular catcher against right-handed pitching this season.