A quick note to catch you up on reporting day for A’s pitchers and catchers. It was overcast and cold in Phoenix today, with rain pouring for part of the morning as players trickled in for their physicals. In short, this was not the weather you see advertised in spring training brochures. There’s a 30 percent chance of showers tomorrow, but the A’s should hit the fields at Phoenix Municipal Stadium for the first workout of 2010.
Here’s the newsy tidbits from today:
–Justin Duchscherer has stiffness in his lower back and will be re-evaluated today. He’s been feeling this for the past couple of weeks, but felt good enough yesterday to throw a 20-pitch bullpen session. He could be day-to-day, according to Bob Geren. Although it’s too early to sound the alarms, any issues with Duchscherer’s back have to be worrisome because it’s been a problem area for him in the past.
–Ben Sheets, the A’s marquee new addition, is cleared for pitching activity with no restrictions on his elbow. Sheets held an informal media session after his physical and flashed a pretty sharp wit. First impression from this guy is pretty solid.
–Lefty Dallas Braden still feels lingering effects from the nerve irritation in his left foot that ended his 2009 season prematurely. Braden said he’ll be on the same schedule as the other starting pitchers, but added: “I have no feeling in my third and fifth toes.”
I’m no doctor, but numb toes don’t sound ideal for a pitcher. His progression during camp will be important to watch, because Sheets and Duchscherer already are question marks being that they missed all of last season. The A’s don’t want a third starter to be in doubt. Braden also described in colorful detail the nasal endoscopy he underwent this winter to help him breathe easier. Before getting the procedure done, he often had to cut workouts short because he had trouble breathing.
–Left-hander Brett Anderson wants to improve his changeup this season so he’ll have another weapon against right-handed hitters.
–Fellow lefty Josh Outman, seven-plus months removed from Tommy John elbow surgery, hopes to be throwing in simulated games by the end of camp, with an eye toward a midseason return. Back in January, he was forced to shut down for a six-week period because of shoulder irritation — a common side effect from the surgery. He’s back on a throwing program, and said he’d ultimately like to regain a rotation spot rather than go to the bullpen.
That’s all for now …