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“I’m No. 5.”

Do yourself and buy an A’s media guide this spring, then glance at the picture under the bio of Dallas Braden. Tell me it doesn’t scream, “Goof!” One look inspires visions of Nuke LaLoosh of “Bull Durham” fame, describing his first professional victory. “It’s out there, man. I mean not just out there, but out there.”

That may not be fair, obviously. The couple of times I’ve spoken with Braden,  he has come across as reasonable intelligent, and he took a trip to Europe in the offseason. So he’s clearly open to educational experiences.

That said, he was pretty much a goof on the hill for the A’s in his first exposure to the majors last season. Put it this way. If he loses his first decision in 2008, he’ll already own a slice of the third-longest losing streak in A’s history (nine) and be halfway to Matt Keough’s mark of 18. (By the way, Bob Welch, Rick Langford, Brian Kingman and Mike Morgan are the other names on that list).

I bring this up, because Braden is in the competition for the fifth starter’s spot, and he kicked off that chase by pitching the first two innings of the A’s exhibition game against Milwaukee at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Didn’t impress all that much, either. Gave up two hits, walked two, struck out three. Allowed a run. Escaped worse damage with a strikeout of Bill Hall.

What’s it all mean? Not much. It’s spring training. I’d surmise Braden will have to impress a bunch more to stick. I’m certainly not looking at him for my fantasy team.

So what do you think? Is he just a goof or does he have a shot to make this club?

rhurd