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PHOENIX – As far as right-hander Josh Lindblom is concerned, the Oakland A’s-Texas Rangers rivalry deserves much more attention than it gets.
“The last couple of years the rivalry between the A’s and Rangers has exploded,” said Lindblom, who the A’s acquired from the Rangers in December. “I don’t think it’s a rivalry that gets as much credit as it deserves. Being in the Texas clubhouse last year, when Oakland came to town there was a little more intensity.”
That rivalry is kindled by the past two Septembers, in which the A’s have gotten the better of Texas down the stretch each time. Oakland beat Texas in the 2012 regular season finale to cap a furious comeback and snatch the American League West title from the Rangers. Last season, the A’s went 19-8 in September to pull away with the division while the Rangers went 12-16.
Both teams seem like the best equipped clubs to duke it out atop the A.L. West again this season. Lindblom said he looks forward to the chance to experience the rivalry in green and gold.
“It’s fun to be a part of what they’re doing here.”
First and foremost, he’s trying to turn heads and make the club. Lindblom went 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA in eight appearances (five starts) for Texas last season. Hardly numbers that stand out, but the A’s see Lindblom as a versatile swing guy who can help out as a starter or reliever.
“He can start, spot start, pitch anywhere you need in the bullpen,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We have a couple of these kinds in camp, but they are unique type of guys.”
Melvin said he was still polishing up his speech to the team before Thursday’s first full-squad workout. Some of his points will be similar to last season’s speech, when the A’s also were coming off an A.L. West title.
“I probably am going to repeat myself to an extent,” he said. “Some of the issues I thought we needed to be aware of going into last season will be prevalent again. So there will be some redundancy, but I’ve got a few new tricks.”
Pitchers will throw live batting practice to hitters Thursday, although on the first couple days of such activity, hitters wind up taking very few hacks – they take a large percentage of pitches just to get used to tracking the ball out of a pitcher’s hand after the long winter.
Reliever Joe Savery threw his first bullpen session after being claimed off waivers from Philadelphia on Monday. Melvin liked what he saw from the lefty, who threw alongside a similar-looking lefty in Sean Doolittle. Savery and Doolittle indeed share a bond. Savery played a little bit of outfield and first base while pitching in the minors for the Phillies. Doolittle, of course, made a well-documented switch from first base to pitching two years ago and is now one of Oakland’s top relief men.
Savery is battling to be the second lefty in the bullpen behind Doolittle.
Reliever Ryan Cook (shoulder inflammation) is now playing catch at a distance of 105 feet, as he approaches a return to the mound soon.