2/28/2014 7:50 P.M. ET
A's devise pitching plan for potential washouts
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- The A's have a backup plan for their starters on hand should rain wipe out any of their games this weekend.
With thunderstorms expected to hit the area hard Saturday, and rainfall potentially continuing into Sunday, the A's are prepared to adjust their schedule. It helps they already have a shorter day planned for Saturday, with no batting practice in the works, "so if we did get backed up," said manager Bob Melvin, "if there was ever a day to handle it, it would be tomorrow."
Right-hander Sonny Gray is slated to pitch Saturday's home game against the Rangers, with Jesse Chavez tabbed to go Sunday. However, if the contest is canceled, Gray will simply be pushed to Sunday and make his Cactus League debut on the road against the Angels.
Scott Kazmir, meanwhile, was initially penciled in to start Sunday's game. But even before the weather came into play, the A's decided not to pitch him against his former Angels team and instead have him throw to teammates on a back field, with his game debut in an A's uniform to follow next week.
"With him," Melvin said of his new lefty, "it might be wise to keep him off the Angels. The first time out, it's not that big a deal, anyway. It's more about getting in the pitches and getting that intensity, and you can do that any number of ways."
Parker 'out of sync' in first game action
PHOENIX -- Jarrod Parker's first Cactus League performance wasn't something to write home about. That's normal for many starters, who simply use it to "get back that game feel," as Parker described.
The A's right-hander, who appears to be in line for his first career Opening Day start, was tagged for six runs on five hits in just 1 1/3 innings against the visiting Giants on Friday afternoon in Oakland's 7-6 comeback victory. He also hit a batter and walked one.
"Not something to worry about," said manager Bob Melvin. "Just a little out of sync."
"It was just good to get out there," said Parker, who went 12-8 with a 3.97 ERA in a career-high 32 starts last season. "It's such a different feel when you go from pitching to your own teammates to pitching at game speed. You want to stay with the same tempo and the same delivery. I was where I wanted to be delivery-wise, but I was up a little bit, and execution-wise, wasn't where I wanted to finish with some stuff."
The 25-year-old, who experienced forearm and elbow soreness at season's end as the result of fatigue, is taking it slow with his slider, since it's not the easiest pitch on the elbow, and threw only a couple on Friday.
"I want to ease into it and get it where I want," he said. "But I threw some good changeups. I need to really stretch out the heater and work it down. But now I know where I am and can build off of this."
• Yoenis Cespedes made his spring debut on Thursday at designated hitter, and that's where he'll be again Saturday against the Rangers. Expect him to stay there for the first week.
"Then he'll play the outfield," said Melvin. "He's fine, we just want to make sure we ease him into it, because he doesn't know how to go half-speed."
• Eric Sogard's wild ride through MLB Network's Face of MLB competition came to an end Friday when the Mets' David Wright got a late push in votes and rallied to win the final vote, 51 to 49 percent.
"I heard it was quite a finish this morning," said Melvin. "He might be exhausted, but it was quite a run. I got a kick out of it. Some of the guys he took down, it shows you our fan base is pretty passionate, especially on social media. We have a little bit of a following now, so that's all good stuff for us."
Asked if he would continue to call Sogard by the name "Face," Melvin smiled and said, "I don't know if we're allowed to do that anymore. Maybe for a few more days, but we'll move on from that at some point."
• Right-hander Dan Straily threw to Sogard and Cespedes on the back field at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Friday morning. It was just his second time facing hitters, since he fell a little behind schedule after feeling some tightness. But he's back on track and slated to make his Cactus League debut Tuesday.
"You're pitching for bragging rights out there," Straily said, "but I'm just working on stuff, getting ready for the games and getting loose. I just threw a lot of fastballs, trying to get that command, because that's what I need to get going first, but it was good. Everything felt great. I'm ready to go for a game now."