Left-hander Tom Milone, one of four players the A’s obtained from Washington in the Gio Gonzalez trade, has earned good reviews early in spring training. Catcher Kurt Suzuki praised Milone’s command and compared his change-up to that of Dallas Braden. On Tuesday morning, A’s manager Bob Melvin noted that Milone’s fastball doesn’t jump out but it can be deceptive: “He definitely knows where the ball is going. If he stays at 86 or 87 (mph), he’s probably got 89 in his pocket when he needs it. It seems like he’s a polished guy.”
Milone is a candidate for one of at least two rotation spots that are available. If Dallas Braden doesn’t return by mid-April, there will be three spots open behind Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon. Jarrod Parker and Brad Peacock, also obtained in trades, and Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey are all fighting for those spots as well.
Likely opening day starter Brandon McCarthy was among the A’s pitchers throwing bullpen sessions Sunday during the team’s first workout of the season. McCarthy said he felt good — nothing extraordinary in his mind — and added that he should be ready in plenty of time should he get the call for the opening day start March 28 against the Mariners in Tokyo. A’s manager Bob Melvin has hinted strongly that McCarthy will pitch that game.
Newcomers Tom Milone, Brad Peacock and Ryan Cook also threw from the mound, as did 2011 first-round pick Sonny Gray. Catcher Kurt Suzuki was particularly impressed with Milone, who along with Peacock is competing for a rotation spot. “For the first day of camp, to start spotting up like he was today is pretty impressive,” Suzuki said.
The left-handed Milone is no flame thrower — his strength is his ability to locate his fastball, cutter, curve and changeup. Suzuki said Milone has a terrific changeup, describing it as “Dallas-like,” in reference to fellow A’s lefty Dallas Braden.
Melvin, who took over the club from Bob Geren last June, is in his first spring with the A’s. Early impression: The man is everywhere. Melvin shifted all around the six pitching mounds at the team’s practice facility, getting a look at as many pitchers as he could. A short time later, he was back at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, wandering the infield as position players took batting practice. The A’s have a condensed spring to prepare for their early season opener, and Oakland has more new faces than usual after making several offseason trades. Melvin is trying to familiarize himself with the entire roster. “I’ll look up some bio stuff (on different players) and try to have a conversation on a personal level, and I think that makes them more comfortable,” he said.
There were overcast skies in the morning, but that cleared up and the A’s first workout took place on a sunny afternoon fit for a postcard.
Some A’s news for your Monday morning:
They’ve traded pitchers Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscoso to the Colorado Rockies for outfielder Seth Smith, who may very well be in their Opening Night lineup at one of the corner outfield spots. I’m not surprised the A’s dealt for Smith, 29, since they’ve been rumored to be interested in him. But I am surprised they dealt both Moscoso and Outman for him. The A’s have holes in the rotation (even if they do finalize a one-year deal with Bartolo Colon), and Moscoso and Outman were considered two candidates to fill out the starting five. The rotation should now go Brandon McCarthy, Dallas Braden (when he’s healthy) and Colon, with two spots to fill. This trade tells me the A’s are comfortable looking at the promising but inexperienced arms they’ve received in other trades this winter to possibly fill in those spots. Consider Jarrod Parker (obtained from AZ in the Trevor Cahill trade) and Brad Peacock and Tom Milone (both received from Washington in the Gio Gonzalez trade) to be prime candidates for rotation spots out of spring training. Graham Godfrey and Tyson Ross will also be in the mix.
Here’s a look at Smith’s career stats with the Rockies. Coco Crisp will start in center field for the A’s, and he could be flanked by Smith and Josh Reddick, with Michael Taylor and Collin Cowgill also possibilities.