A's welcome underdog status despite being division champs
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PHOENIX – The A’s aren’t likely to announce their regular-season rotation anytime soon, but their plans for this weekend might provide a glimpse.
Jarrod Parker will make his exhibition debut Friday against the Giants, with Sonny Gray going Saturday against the Texas Rangers and Scott Kazmir starting Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe, Oakland pitching coach Curt Young confirmed.
If the rotation stays in that sequence throughout the spring, it would set up nicely for those three to start the season-opening series against the Cleveland Indians March 31-April 2.
But write that in pencil and keep an eraser handy, because the A’s could juggle their rotation any number of ways over the next four-plus weeks. A.J. Griffin is being held out of Cactus League action until he faces hitters for a second time in workouts. He could potentially slot in near the front of the rotation. Or Kazmir could be the No. 2 to put a lefty after Parker.
And of course, everyone in the rotation needs to perform well in exhibitions to solidify their spots. But sending Parker-Gray-Kazmir out of the chute to start the season would make sense. Parker, 12-8 with a 3.97 ERA last season, was very consistent in his second full big league campaign. Gray showed flashes of dominance during his 12 major league starts as a rookie, including a memorable performance in Game 2 of the American League Division Series. Kazmir, signed in the offseason, has the stuff to pitch near the front of the rotation too.
A’s manager Bob Melvin probably won’t announce any concrete decisions soon. He’s said more than once this spring that he doesn’t like players to feel too relaxed about having their spot sewn up. Melvin likes to foster an atmosphere of urgency and competitiveness in the spring when it comes to the roster and positions.
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“I want them to have that kind of desire where they have to earn something every day,” Melvin said over the weekend.
Fun fact: The A’s have trotted out seven different Opening Night starters in the past seven seasons. Brett Anderson took the ball in last year’s opener, so one way or another, it’s going to be eight for eight.