Oakland A's Spring Notes: First Workouts

This could be a big camp for Mazzaro.

Oakland opened camp with a workout the same day that pitchers and catchers reported, something the team hasn't done in more than a decade.

Manager Bob Geren said that the prompt workout was the result of the extra week of spring training -- he wants to make sure his pitchers get adequate rest during the seven weeks built into this spring in order to accommodate the World Baseball Classic.

Geren said that the A's pitchers would throw four days in a row and then get the fifth day off, something they haven't done in previous seasons.

Justin Duchscherer hasn't been named as the Opening Night starter, but he is expected to be if he has a healthy spring. He is not limited in any way following minor hip surgery last fall, and he is scheduled to be on the same throwing program as the rest of the starters.

Oakland's main competition on the pitching side is at the fifth starter spot, because Dallas Braden is penciled in for the No. 4 spot after making strides in the second half last year. Left-handers Gio Gonzalez and Josh Outman, both rookies acquired in trades over the past year and a half (Gonzalez in the Nick Swisher deal and Outman in the Joe Blanton deal), are the top contenders for the fifth spot.

Keep an eye on minor league invitee Vince Mazzaro, however. Mazzaro earned the Texas League Pitcher of the Year award last season with Double-A Midland. A super spring could earn him a faster call-up than anticipated, although he was inconsistent during a late season audition with Triple-A Sacramento, which may indicate that he needs a little more seasoning at the Triple-A level. Top pitching prospects Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and James Simmons will all be vying to make an impression with the A's coaching staff in hopes of an in-season call-up, as well.

Spring Notes

--RHP Justin Duchscherer is not expected to be limited in any way this spring, despite minor hip surgery last fall. Duchscherer, a two-time All-Star, is the top candidate to start Opening Night for the A's. He has been throwing in Arizona for a month with no problems.

--SS Orlando Cabrera remains on Oakland's radar, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which reported that Cabrera's agent, Dan Lozano, was expected to have talks with A's general manager Billy Beane before the start of camp. The A's made SS Rafael Furcal an offer before he re-signed with the Dodgers, and the team put SS Bobby Crosby on waivers, where he went unclaimed, in January. It's unclear if Cabrera's camp and the A's can find common ground when it comes to a salary; he is believed to be looking in the $9.5 million range that Edgar Renteria is making.

--RHP Edgar Gonzalez signed a minor league deal with Oakland and was granted an invitation to big-league camp. His arrival has been delayed by visa problems, as has the arrival of Cuban-born catcher Joel Galarraga, who has competed in Mexico the past few years. Gonzalez, 25, was in Arizona's rotation at the start of the 2007 season and went 1-3 with a 6.00 ERA in 17 appearances, six starts. He missed the second half with an elbow sprain.

--C Kurt Suzuki declined an opportunity to be a part of the provisional roster for the US team in the World Baseball Classic, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Suzuki, who is considered one of the top up-and-coming catchers in the game as he enters his second full season in the majors, told the paper he wanted to focus on building relationships with the A's new pitchers and getting ready for the regular season.

--RHP Brad Ziegler will be competing with RHP Joey Devine for the closer's job, as expected. Manager Bob Geren said Feb. 11 that both men will get save opportunities and that if one or the other gets on a hot streak that he'll likely wind up with the role. Geren emphasized that he believes the setup role to be just as pivotal, however, and whichever reliever isn't closing will be the primary setup man.

Home Cooking: 9 -- Times in the past 10 years the A's have finished with a winning record at home, including last year, when the club went 43-38 at the Coliseum.

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