A’s Balfour clears first hurdle by throwing off mound

PHOENIX – A’s closer Grant Balfour threw 25 pitches off a mound Friday morning, his first time to do so since Feb. 14 surgery to remove a bit of meniscus from his right knee.

The right-hander said there was a little bit of residual soreness in the knee but said that things went about as well as he could hope. He now has a full month to get himself ready to be the Oakland ninth-inning guy for the opener April 1.

    “The area where they cut it hasn’t quite healed up,’’ Balfour said, rolling up his pant leg to show off the scar left over from the path of the arthroscope. “There’s a little swelling. But basically it’s all good.’’

Normally, Balfour would start out throwing a diet of mostly fastballs. But given the truncated time available to him, he threw a smorgasbord of all his pitches.

“I think there’s enough time to get to (where he needs to be on) opening day,’’ he said. “but all I really know is that I’ve got an easy day (Saturday) and then we’ll see where we are after that.’’

For Balfour, who was cleared to take the mound by the A’s medics on Thursday, his rehab is all about the knee. He never stopped throwing and working on his shoulder to make sure he didn’t get too rusty, so his arm hasn’t atrophied.

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.