Rehabbing Balfour trying for quick return to closer’s job

PHOENIX – A’s closer Grant Balfour, who is doing extensive rehab work in an effort to come back quickly from a mid-February knee surgery, needs to have somebody keep an eye on him.

At least that’s the opinion of A’s manager Bob Melvin, who said Balfour is coming along quickly but wants to pick up the pace. He had some meniscus removed from his right knee, an operation that should leave him ready to go.

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Young feeling fine, should return to A’s outfield Wednesday

PHOENIX – Outfielder Chris Young reported to the A’s spring training camp at Phoenix Municipal Stadium Monday with no evident ill effects from the quad cramp he suffered while making a diving catch in the first inning against the Angels Sunday.

“It’s good,’’ Young said. “It was a little sore yesterday when I came out, but I worked with the trainers and it feels fine.’’

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Sizemore’s return to A’s could be compelling story

PHOENIX – One of the most interesting stories of the spring will start up today when the A’s give Scott Sizemore his first start of the season at second base.

Sizemore hasn’t played in the field since the final weeks of the 2011 season thanks to an ACL injury suffered in the first day of spring training camp last year.

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A’s will give Young room to grow in left and right as the Cactus League kicks off

PHOENIX – A’s manager Bob Melvin would like nothing better than to make things easy on Chris young.

Well, that’s not going to happen. Young, one of the better center fielders in the game and a former All-Star, will be playing out of position much of this season.

He has to play left and right in addition to center, and he’ll occasionally be the designated hitter as well.

The A’s have some institutional memory when it comes to moving center fielders to the corners. Coco Crisp did it at the beginning of last season and his first forays were less than graceful.

Then two months into the season, Crisp went back to center and it was Yoenis Cespedes’ time to learn the left field tango. It took a while for him to click, too.

“The thing I remember,’’ Melvin said, “is that by the end of the year he really had it down.’’

Melvin is counting on the same from Young, including the learning curve at the beginning.

“He’s done the drills, but it’s tough to tell anything from that,’’ Melvin said. “It’s all about playing in the games.’’

Young gets a bit of a break today. He’ll play center field against the Brewers in Maryvale. On Sunday, however, he’s down to play right field against the Angels in Tempe.

And if he looks a little rough out there, Melvin will want him to know that he’s not the first one to get out of the gate slowly when making the conversion.


Melvin has mid-March target date for A’s to settle on second base/shortstop combination

Shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima

PHOENIX – The A’s could be settled on a starting shortstop/second base combination by mid-March.

Manager Bob Melvin said Saturday that in an ideal world, the congestion up the middle would be cleared out with about two weeks left in the A’s spring training season.

That would give presumed shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima a fortnight in which to create a comfort zone with whichever of the five second base candidates wins the job.

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Norberto mum about any link to probe of Biogenesis

PHOENIX – His name came up Tuesday in connection with the expanding investigation into Miami-based Biogenesis and its boss, Tony Bosch, but A’s pitcher Jordan Norberto had nothing to say about the matter Wednesday morning.

Norberto said he didn’t want to talk about the situation one way or another and that he was focused on baseball.

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