Programming note:A’s Insider Joe Stiglich is in Arizona; check back for his coverage throughout spring training and watch SportsNet Central nightly at 6 and 10:30 p.m. for all the day’s MLB news.
PHOENIX – Ryan Cook will face hitters Sunday for the first time this spring, another hurdle for the Oakland A’s reliever to clear as he comes back from shoulder inflammation.
Cook isn’t giving up hope about being ready for Opening Night, especially after he felt so good following Thursday’s 20-pitch bullpen session. He threw at max effort in that outing and said he was able to snap off his slider with authority.
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But it seems a tall task for Cook to be ready for the start of the regular season. The A’s want him to throw live batting practice twice before making his exhibition debut. On that schedule, it’s tough to envision Cook getting into more than three exhibitions, which might not be enough to convince the front office he’s ready.
Luke Gregerson and Dan Otero would take on bigger roles as right-handed setup men if Cook started the season on the disabled list.
In other injury news, outfielder Craig Gentry, who has yet to play in a game because of a lower back strain, is scheduled to hit off coaches Sunday. He also faces long odds to make Opening Night at this point. Sam Fuld remains the leading candidate to be the fourth outfielder should Gentry open the season on the D.L.
Lefty reliever Eric O’Flaherty, expected to miss the first half of the season as he comes back from “Tommy John” surgery, will throw off the mound Sunday.
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Shortstop Addison Russell, Oakland’s top prospect, said he is coming along well from a strained right hamstring. Russell has fielded grounders the past few days and said he was scheduled to take batting practice Saturday.