With March now almost half-over, the Athletics are setting their sights on Opening Night, when they’ll host the visiting Mariners. The team, for the most part, has managed to stay healthy so far this spring, and that is definitely good news for a team that has battled injuries the past four seasons.
The A’s are counting on the strength of their pitching staff to carry them through most of the upcoming season, but some pitchers like Josh Outman and Joey Devine, are having a difficult time finding success this spring.
Outman, 26, was part of Oakland’s rotation in 2009 before getting shut down due to Tommy John surgery. Outman made 12 starts that season, going 4-1 with a 3.48 ERA.
This spring, Outman has been in the running for Oakland’s No.5 starter spot, but he hasn’t impressed much. In four appearances this spring (7.2 innings), Outman has allowed 18 hits, 10 runs, and 7 walks. Opposing hitters are hitting .474 off Outman this spring.
Granted he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery, but if he continues to perform this way for the remainder of spring training games, I don’t see him winning the No.5 starter job. Other guys like Bobby Cramer, Brandon McCarthy, and Tyson Ross have performed much better this spring.
Devine, who last pitched in 2008 with the A’s, is also battling back from an injury. Reports, like the one from SF Chronicle writer Susan Slusser, seem to suggest that Devine’s problems are just a result from a ‘dead-arm’ phase some pitchers go through.
In five appearances this spring (4.1 innings), Devine has a 6.23 ERA, and has walked a staggering 8 total hitters. Control issues are likely the root of his unimpressive spring, but he’s got time to iron out his mechanics. Devine, if healthy, has the potential to be a really good reliever in Oakland’s revamped bullpen.
It’s still very early, and Opening Night is 18 days or so away. So, both Outman and Devine have time to iron out all their issues in time for Opening Night.
Let’s just hope that neither Outman nor Devine will need medical attention this season.