0

Bartolo Colon, Brett Anderson making strides; what’s the A’s plan for prospect Grant Green?

It’s a picture-perfect afternoon at Safeco Field. Warm, sunny … the complete opposite of yesterday. I guess the sunshine is getting us ready for four games in Texas, although it will be quite a bit toastier there. One writer who was recently at Rangers Ballpark told me it was 94 degrees when a game ended at 10 p.m. Yikes …

–A couple of A’s pitchers on the mend seem to be doing well. Bartolo Colon (strained right oblique) is throwing a bullpen session Thursday. He’s eligible to come off the DL on July 3, and while the A’s haven’t set a date for his return, manager Bob Melvin expressed optimism last week that Colon might return by the All-Star break.

Brett Anderson threw his second bullpen session since having a minor setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. It went well – 30 pitches, fastballs and changeups. “Pretty uneventful,” Anderson said, and he likes it that way right now. There’s no timeframe for him to pitch in a minor league game. Figure he’s still at least a month away from returning to the big league club. … Dallas Braden is throwing but still hasn’t pitched off the mound yet. There’s no timetable for his return yet …

The lineups:
A’s – Crisp CF, Pennington SS, Reddick RF, Cespedes DH, Smith LF, Inge 3B, Moss 1B, Hicks 2B, Suzuki C; Parker RHP.

M’s – Ichiro RF, Gutierrez CF, Seager 3B, Montero DH, Saunders LF, Jaso C, Smoak 1B, Ackley 2B, Ryan SS; Millwood RHP.

–I figure there has to be curiosity among fans concerning Grant Green, the 2009 first-round pick who was switched from shortstop to center field last summer, and now is once again seeing time in the infield as well as left field. Grady Fuson, an A’s special assistant to the GM, spends much of his time evaluating the farm system, and he said he thinks Green is close to major league-ready with the bat. But the A’s are trying to increase his versatility defensively. “He’s spent time in center field, and the majority of all of his games have been in the middle of the diamond,” Fuson said. “We’ll see what he looks like at third. He could even see time at second base. But versatility alone could be good for his first arrival.”

Green is hitting .292 with eight homers and 40 RBI for Triple-A Sacramento. He also has 12 doubles and five triples in 68 games. Green has always been good taking the ball to the opposite field, but the A’s have worked to increase his power, and Fuson is encouraged that all of his homers this season have been pulled to left field. “If you live by hitting the ball the other way, even in the minor leagues, that’s a good skill,” Fuson said, “but it’s easier to pitch you. And when you get to (the majors) it’s easier to play you.”

How close is Green to joining Oakland? I would think a September call-up isn’t out of the question. But it’s tough to tell what the A’s long-term projection is for this guy based on how he’s bouncing around the diamond. It does make sense to try him at third base, considering the A’s lack some organizational depth there. They just drafted Daniel Robertson and plan to convert him from shortstop to third base, but he’s just out of high school, so he’s several years away. Stephen Parker has moved up the ranks and is playing third at Sacramento right now, but it’s unclear if the A’s see him as a potential answer at the position. I asked Fuson if Green’s switch back to the infield was a result of him struggling in the outfield or more the A’s needs on the left side of the infield.

“Our outfield at the beginning of the year was crowded,” Fuson said. “At the same time, now we’ve had about a year to see him in center. We know what he can do out there, what he’s not good at doing. At third, we lost (Scott) Sizemore (to a season-ending knee injury) … His versatility may be key to him getting some playing time early in his career.”

Joe Stiglich