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Bullpen update

Still no word on the Russ Springer signing, and an A’s official said no announcement was planned for today. Don’t read anything into this delay; it’s believed Springer, a right-handed reliever, merely needs to schedule and pass a physical. The announcement likely will come tomorrow, but let’s mark that in pencil rather than pen.

In other bullpen-related news, it looks like the A’s will be without righty Andrew Brown for a while. Assistant GM David Forst confirmed that Brown will undergo exploratory surgery on his injured right shoulder, which sidelined him for the final 59 games of 2008. Brown told the San Francisco Chronicle in Wednesday’s editions that a best-case scenario would probably have him back by the All-Star break. He went 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA last season and held opponents to a .187 batting average. Behind co-closers Joey Devine and Brad Ziegler, spots in the bullpen appear up for grabs heading into the spring. But with a glut of right-handers fighting for roster spots, Brown faced a challenge even if he were 100 percent. At the very least, I hope Brown is around the clubhouse this spring. He’s one of the true characters on the team. Besides, he needs to recruit a new chess partner now that Huston Street is gone.

One final tidbit: Forst also confirmed that heralded Dominican pitching prospect Michael Inoa will move to the United States and participate in extended spring training in April. You’ll remember Inoa, 17, made headlines when the A’s signed him to a $4.25 million bonus last summer, the most a major league team has given to an international amateur player not from Cuba. Inoa has spent the past couple of months at the team’s Dominican baseball academy, pitching in instructional league and taking English classes. If he does well in extended spring training, it stands to reason he’ll then pitch next summer for the A’s rookie league team based in Arizona.

Joe Stiglich