PHOENIX (AP) — Bob Melvin spent most of his Sunday morning introducing himself to all the new faces gathering in the Oakland Athletics’ spring training facility. Next up, he’ll be reading through some of their bios.
“When you can converse on a personal level it makes them feel more comfortable,” Melvin said. “It’s to let guys know they will get some personal attention.”
Brandon McCarthy is the only returning starter from a rotation that ended last season under Melvin. Injuries decimated the pitching staff last year and trades took care of the rest.
Veteran Bartolo Colon is expected to earn a spot in the starting rotation along with Dallas Braden, and, possibly, Brett Anderson.
Braden declared himself ready to go following left shoulder surgery that ended his season in May. Anderson, who will throw off a mound Monday for the first time since his injury, made it into June before undergoing left elbow surgery.
Trevor Cahill, an All-Star in 2010, was sent to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a trade that netted the A’s pitchers Ryan Cook and Jarrod Parker, and outfielder Collin Cowgill.
Gio Gonzalez, the lone A’s representative at last year’s All-Star game, went to the Washington Nationals in exchange for pitchers Tommy Moline and Brad Peacock, catcher Derek Norris and minor league pitcher A.J. Cole.
Tyson Ross went 3-3 with a 2.75 ERA in nine games, including six starts, with Oakland before going on the disabled list May 20 with a strained left oblique.
A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki hasn’t had much time to introduce himself to the new pitchers. He’s certainly looking forward to catching them and getting them comfortable.
“You have to develop a game plan with them,” Suzuki said. “You have to learn about them and how to work together.”
It’s not just the starters. Melvin and his staff must also piece together a bullpen, with the departure of closer Andrew Bailey to the Boston Red Sox and Craig Breslow to the Diamondbacks along with Cahill.
The good news is there are plenty of candidates. The coaches will just need a little time to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes are the early front runners to close, and Melvin said Joey Devine and Fautino De Los Santos are also in the mix.
“It comes down to when we get into games,” Melvin said. “That’s when we start finding out about people.”
With the A’s scheduled to leave for Tokyo on March 21, there’s no time to waste.
“If you are mentally ready, whatever you’re working on is the right path,” McCarthy said. “Last year I built up to a full outing and then scaled back. I’m doing that again, without the scaling back. My throwing program has not changed. I’m just trying to get used to being on my feet all day.”
Notes: Former A’s infielder Tony Phillips was a visitor to the first day of workouts. ... Former 1B-OF Sean Doolittle is trying to make the switch to pitching. He was a three-time All-American utility player at Virginia. ... Melvin, a former major league catcher, threw the first official round of batting practice.