Checking in from Phoenix, where the A’s pitchers and catchers took the field for their first workout today. My laptop seems to be shaking off some winter rust right now, much like the ballplayers, so the blog updates may be lighter than I’d hoped for the next day or two until I get some technological glitches ironed out.
Overall, it was pretty uneventful, which is how the first day of camp usually is. The biggest note of consequence: The A’s are holding Joey Devine and Santiago Casilla out of the World Baseball Classic. Each are healthy now, but considering they missed time with elbow problems last season, the A’s are playing it safe. MLB teams can petition an individual player’s country to request they not participate in the WBC if there are health concerns. Devine (who was on the U.S.’s provisional roster) and Casilla (Dominican Republic) each really wanted to play, but they seemed to take the news well. That leaves fellow reliever Brad Ziegler (US) and outfielder Chris Denorfia (Italy) as WBC hopefuls from the A’s. Final WBC rosters will be set Feb. 24.
As for the A’s first workout, drills and fundamentals took up most of the day, though several pitchers threw their first bullpen session — Gio Gonzalez, Dana Eveland, Dallas Braden, Sean Gallagher, Vin Mazzaro and Brett Anderson among them. Surely, Bob Geren and his staff had to be eager to see Mazzaro and Anderson, two of the organization’s brightest prospects pitching in their first big league camp. It’s tough to glean too much this early. Mazzaro seemed to struggle with his command a bit (pitching coach Curt Young actually took him aside and chatted w/him briefly). Geren mentioned in his morning team meeting that he wants his young pitchers to try to keep their composure early on (“Nobody wins a roster spot on the first day.”)
A few position players took some informal BP, including Matt Holliday, who was spraying line drives all over the field. This guy looks like the baseball equivalent of a “gym rat.” During the pitchers’ bullpen sessions, long after most veterans would have called it a day, Holliday wandered over and stood in the batter’s box while Gallagher was pitching. I think he wanted to just get a look at some live pitching. If this is typical of his work ethic, it’s not surprising he’s developed into the player he has.
Speaking of Gallagher, he’s sporting a bit of a mullet, and, from afar, he’s a dead ringer for Travis Buck. It’s always entertaining to see what kind of look these guys show up to camp with, and how long it lasts. … Like I said, news is slow, so you’re getting some random observations!
Check out tomorrow’s paper for some more coverage …