According to the A’s official team site, both Andrew Bailey and Rich Harden are “looking good,” and are making progress with their throwing programs. The two pitchers are starting the season on the disabled list, with Bailey out with a strained right forearm and Harden out with a strained right lat. The A’s are optimistic that the two pitchers will continue making progress, but there’s certainly no rush for either player to make a quick return.
Bailey, the 2009 ROY winner and 2010 A’s All-Star, has enough supporters in the bullpen to help cover for him while he’s out. The A’s do have Brian Fuentes, who recorded 24 saves last year with the Angels and Twins, and Grant Balfour to help close out games while Bailey recovers.
Harden, meanwhile, is still a question-mark. The flamethrower has been rattled by injuries throughout his career, and the A’s know all too well that Harden could break at any moment. The A’s will probably want to ease Harden back into the groove of things, especially considering he missed all of spring training due to the lat injury.
When healthy, Harden is an ace. Once healthy, however, the A’s will have to decide whether or not to plug him into the rotation or whether to have him become a long-relief type guy in the bullpen. More Notes…
-Former A’s 3B/DH Eric Chavez earned a roster spot with the Yankees. Chavez, 33, hit just .234 last year with Oakland, but this spring he hit .395/.422/.558 with one homer and four RBIs. It looks like that change of scenery might just pay off.
-According to ESPN.com, the A’s have lost the past six Opening Day games, the longest streak in the majors. The A’s play host to the Mariners on Friday at the Coliseum. A win on Friday could be the beginning of a new streak.
-Of the 45 writers on ESPN who took part in predicting the winners of each division in baseball, 9 picked the A’s to capture the AL West in 2011. A little more love this year for the green-and-gold. I like that.