PHOENIX -- Good news from the trainer's room often comes at a premium in Oakland, but the A's have plenty to be pleased about right now thanks to the encouraging progress of relievers Craig Breslow and Joey Devine.
Breslow, who threw 28 pitches without a glitch in a Minor League game on Wednesday, is scheduled to throw again in a similar setting on Saturday, putting him in line to make his Cactus League debut early next week if all continues to go well.
The A's lefty has been nursing a strained hamstring for more than a week, though he's remained on track with his pitching schedule during a spring in which the A's have brought him along slowly following a 2010 campaign that saw him rack up 74 2/3 innings in relief.
Devine, meanwhile, felt good Thursday while throwing 10 pitches from flat ground and 20 from the top of the mound. Pitching coach Ron Romanick said he liked what he saw from the righty, who has been set back with biceps tightness, and mentioned Devine will likely undertake a bullpen session before returning to game action.
Devine's stiff arm greatly affected his mechanics during his last two spring outings, and his command was subsequently missing entirely, as evidenced by the eight walks he's offered up in just 4 1/3 innings. He's looking to join the bullpen ranks after missing two seasons following Tommy John surgery, though it's unclear whether he'll be available on Opening Day.
"We're trying to be patient with him and do things right," Romanick said. "Everyone's schedule is different, but I can tell you it was great to see what he did today. He's on the right track again."
Geren marvels at Gio's stellar Spring Training
PHOENIX -- Manager Bob Geren is running out of words to describe the consistently exceptional performances that have come from lefty Gio Gonzalez this spring.
On Thursday, following Gonzalez's successful outing against the Cubs, Geren pulled out an "unbelievable."
"He hasn't missed a beat with anything," the A's skipper added. "Perfect."
2010 Spring Training - Oakland Athletics
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Not quite, given the two runs Gonzalez allowed in the seventh inning. The previous six, though, were seemingly just that, give or take a hit or two. It's become all too customary for the A's lefty, who has surrendered just three earned runs and struck out 19 in 15 1/3 innings for a 1.76 Cactus League ERA.
Gonzalez, 25, offered up five hits and walked two while fanning six in his six-plus innings Thursday, breezing through his fourth spring start before offering up a leadoff homer and a walk that led to his departure in the seventh.
"I just got into a good groove with [catcher] Kurt Suzuki," Gonzalez said. "I'm attacking the zone, throwing first-pitch strikes, putting the ball in play and letting my defense do the work. If I can work quick, that sets the tone for the rest of the game."
Gonzalez is scheduled to make two more spring starts and is in line to get the nod for Opening Day, though manager Bob Geren reiterated Thursday that he's not ready to announce his season-opening starter, noting that he has plenty of options and plenty of time to make that decision.
A's announce more earthquake relief efforts
PHOENIX -- Oakland's weekend celebration of the start of the regular season is slated to coincide with the organization's ongoing efforts to support Japanese earthquake victims.
The A's announced on Thursday that they will donate $1 for every ticket sold to their April 3 contest against the visiting Seattle Mariners at the Oakland Coliseum to the Red Cross for relief efforts in Japan. The game will be a part of Japanese Heritage Day, when Oakland's Hideki Matsui and Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki -- Japan's two most-celebrated current players -- will take the field.
The benefit game will feature pregame ceremonies and entertainment, including Taiko drummers, along with several fundraising components to aid in the relief efforts. A handful of corporate sponsors will also contribute thousands of dollars to the cause.
In addition, the A's have created a new website as a way to expand their efforts. Fans can visit www.oaklandathletics.com/japan for an opportunity to make tax-deductible donations to the A's Community Fund. All proceeds will be given to the Red Cross.
Japanese Heritage Day also affords fans the chance to take part in a silent auction, which will include signed and game-used baseball equipment from A's players, including signed game jerseys worn by Matsui and Suzuki on April 2. A limited supply of signed color photos of Matsui will also be sold for $50.
Rich Harden is scheduled to begin throwing again on Friday. He'll take part in long toss in an effort to return to the mound for the first time in more than a month at a date to be determined, and it's unlikely he'll be completely healthy in time to see Cactus League action. ... Ryan Sweeney went 2-for-2 on Thursday and is 6-for-11 (.545) since making his spring debut last week.