March 10, 2011RATTO ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTSVIDEO
A'S PAGE A'S VIDEORay RattoCSNBayArea.com
We know a few things about Spring Training that are universal. Like someones going to have to take out a hive of Africanized bees on a stadium concourse. Like allergies will make the average stadium section look like a tuberculosis ward. Like the cutting edge music on the ballpark P.A. from Stealers Wheel and Jim Croce.And like the As giving some reason to worry about their health.Comrade Killion covered the general health topic elsewhere on our happy site, but Thursday the Oaklands got to see someone they need badly and hadnt seen in business yet their closer, Andrew Bailey.
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Bailey has been recovering from an embittered elbow, and when thrown in with two other relied-upon pitchers who also havent worked yet, Craig Breslow and Michael Wuertz, he was starting to cause a little mild consternation in and around Phoenix Municipal Time Warp.Not because anyone thought he wouldnt be ready in time, but because when youre talking about the As, out of sight sends people out of their minds.But Bailey was ascendant in his first start since his elbow turned on him, retiring Kansas City Royals Mitch Maier, Alex Gordon and Wil Myers on 12 pitches in the As 4-4 tie.
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And he was not only ascendant on a day when the As got a point in their own building to go 5-7-1 in the Cactus League, he was apparently high on calcium and Vitamin D as well.Theres a little anxiety going out there the first time, sure, the As closer said after hitting 94 mph and 93 at least twice in his outing. But it felt fine. I was able just to let myself go. The extra 10-12 degrees of extension (in his arm) felt normal. I didnt notice and difference in my mechanics.And . . .Now I can go in my refrigerator and get the milk carton out. Before, I almost had to climb in to get it.But the September surgery to clean out several chips, spurs, scar tissue, corn chips, toy whistles and a small turtle from his elbow mostly served to heighten his anticipation and improve his dairy acquisition skills.I went in planning to just throw fastballs, he said, but once I got out there, the adrenalin kicked in a bit and I mixed in a few cutters. I didnt throw any curves or changes, but those will come.Two of those cutters were the murder weapons in the strikeouts of Gordon and Myers, but he found greater satisfaction hitting the gun at close to his normal velocity and putting the ball in the designated spots (he threw four balls and eight strikes).Baileys return gets the As one body closer to having their full bullpen complement. Craig Breslow (hamstring) and Michael Wuertz (shoulder) still have not appeared in a sorta-for-real game yet, and since the As have been bragging on the bullpen depth since Billy Beane started acquiring it last year, one can understand the casual As fan wanting to see it in full wingspan and plumage.But we knew they were going to take it easy and not hurry us, so thats been good, Bailey said. Well all be there when the season starts.Bailey is expected to hold his place as the closer despite the acquisition of Brian Fuentes, but the As long and proud relationship with the disabled list has always made long-term planning in Oakland the best way to hear God laugh. Baileys first outing, though, makes the possibility of that vaunted bullpen a little more likely.Id like to get about five or six more outings before the Bay (Bridge) Series, maybe eight in total, he said, and that should be good.The As, and the California Milk Board, certainly hope so.What'syour take? Email Rayand let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag. Follow Ray on Twitter @RattoCSN.