Romanick is working with Harden this fall.
Ron Romanick, a former big-league pitcher who has spent the past nine years as the A's roving minor league pitching instructor, was the first hire as Oakland began to fill three openings on the coaching staff.
Romanick is the new bullpen coach, taking the spot vacated when the team let longtime staff member Brad Fischer go after the season. Romanick has worked extensively with many of the A's pitchers, both in the minor leagues and while on rehab assignments, and he has a particularly good relationship with Rich Harden.
Harden has had three years interrupted by injuries, and Romanick is working with the right-hander in Phoenix this month, trying to get his arm back to full strength after Harden missed most of last season with a shoulder impingement.
Romanick, 46, said that Harden is doing the team's throwing program, which consists primarily of long toss. Harden had not thrown off the mound during his first two weeks in Arizona, nor was he scheduled to; there had been some thought that he might pitch in an instructional league game, but he has concentrated on the throwing program.
"He's done very well," Romanick said. "I'm really pleased with what Rich is doing, and I think he is, too."
Two years ago, Romanick served as Bob Geren's pitching coach and bench coach while Geren was managing Escogido in the Dominican winter league. So Geren, the A's manager, knows him well, and they have an established working relationship. Romanick also has good rapport with Oakland pitching coach Curt Young, and it is clear with Romanick's hiring that the team is continuing to emphasize its young pitching.
Don Wakamatsu, most recently the Rangers' third base coach, got a two-year deal to be the A's bench coach, and Tony DeFrancesco, who managed Triple-A Sacramento to the Pacific Coast League title, is likely to get the final position on the staff, coaching either first or third.
--The A's carried LHP Jay Marshall, a Rule 5 draftee, on their roster all season -- only to see him get claimed off waivers by the Red Sox in October. Marshall, who pitched in Class A the previous year, struggled at the big-league level, posting a 6.43 ERA, and he made only 14 appearances in the second half. He also had two rough outings in the Arizona Fall League this month, allowing six hits and four runs in two innings.
--Oakland continues to show no fear in taking players coming off major surgery. The A's claimed RHP Jose Garcia off waivers from the Braves. Garcia, 22, missed all of 2007 after elbow ligament replacement surgery. He made five relief appearances for Atlanta in 2006. Oakland likes his strikeout-to-walk ratio: In 375 2/3 innings in the minors, Garcia has struck out 415 and walked 89.
--RHP Craig Italiano, the A's second-round pick in 2005, is pitching well in instructional league after a frightening injury earlier this season when he was struck in the head by a line drive, ending his season. Romanick said, "He looks really good. I'm very proud of him after what he's been through."
--OF Kevin Thompson was claimed on waivers by the Pirates. The A's had claimed Thompson from the Yankees in September, and he had one hit in 14 at-bats. Oakland stockpiled outfielders last year, adding seven from April on, and four of those are still currently on the roster, including DH/OF Jack Cust.
--1B Daric Barton and RHP Trevor Cahill were selected the team's organizational players of the year. Barton, who came up in September and reached base safely in all 18 games in which he played, is expected to be Oakland's first baseman next year. Cahill has impressed Romanick in instructional league this fall; Romanick said he has been "outstanding." Cahill, the team's second-round pick in 2006, went 11-4 with a 2.73 ERA at Class A Kane County. He won the Most Valuable Pitcher Award in instructs for the A's.