3/31/2014 10:26 P.M. ET
A's sign veteran Blanton to Minor League deal
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- The A's added pitching depth by way of a familiar face on Monday, reuniting with right-hander Joe Blanton on a Minor League deal.
Blanton, released by the Angels last week, will report to Triple-A Sacramento and join the River Cats' rotation.
Originally taken by the A's in the first round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, Blanton compiled a 47-46 record and 4.25 ERA in five seasons with Oakland. He was traded to Philadelphia on July 17, 2008, and pitched in two World Series for the Phillies.
The 33-year-old landed with the Angels at the end of 2012 as a free agent and struggled to the tune of a 2-14 record and 6.04 ERA in 28 appearances (20 starts) last year. He then pitched to a 7.08 ERA in five spring appearances before his release, which cost the Angels $8.5 million.
Blanton returns to Sacramento for the first time since 2004 and adds to a list of readily available starters that already includes Josh Lindblom and Arnold Leon.
Kazmir excited to face ex-teammates in first start
OAKLAND -- When Scott Kazmir began his comeback bid with the Indians last season, following a two-year layoff from the Majors, the lefty had few weapons in his pocket. He simply got by on his fastball.
Not anymore. Oakland's new southpaw will take a slew of secondary pitches to the mound for his A's debut Tuesday, which just so happens to come against his former Tribe club.
"I went into my last spring start throwing all of my pitches and having success with them," Kazmir said Monday. "I'm more confident knowing I have a lot more pitches that I now feel comfortable with."
Kazmir dined with a handful of ex-teammates Sunday night, including Nick Swisher, and fully expects them to mess with him come Tuesday. But Oakland's $22 million offseason prize isn't budging.
"They know me. I know them," said Kazmir, 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts for Cleveland last year. "It's more of a cat-and-mouse game now. They know my tendencies, and for the most part, I know their tendencies. It's going to be a game of adjustments, I think. It's going to be fun out there, for sure. I know they're going to try to get to me while I'm up on the mound, try to take away from my focus, but I'll just be locked in. I can't even stare at them because they're a bunch of jokesters over there."
Kazmir sees a similar group in the A's clubhouse, albeit much younger collectively. He's considered one of the elder members at age 30 and has been assigned veteran Bartolo Colon's old locker in Oakland's home clubhouse.
It's where he always envisioned landing at some point.
"Pretty much my whole career facing the A's, it was a team I admired," he said. "I loved the way they went about their business, and I love the way they play the game. It's something that's an honor to play for a team like that."
The Indians kept close watch on Kazmir's workload last year and got 158 innings out of him. The reins will be looser this year.
"Getting that bulk of innings," he said, "I see myself making a big jump from that and being comfortable doing that throughout the entire year."
Moss in cleanup slot for opener; Cespedes fifth
OAKLAND -- Yoenis Cespedes spent 72 days in the cleanup spot last year, but Oakland's left fielder hit fifth for the club's season opener Monday night.
The lefty-swinging Brandon Moss, serving as designated hitter, batted in the fourth spot against Tribe right-hander Justin Masterson -- behind Nos. 2 and 3 hitters Josh Donaldson and Jed Lowrie.
"It depends on how many lefties we have, and with the two righties, we like to spread them out a little bit," explained manager Bob Melvin. "It kind of insulates Moss a little bit, too, and then we have four lefties in a row, 6, 7, 8, 9. So depending on what they have in their bullpen, you take a look at that, too."
Moss was one of Oakland's hottest hitters this spring, hitting .364 with a team-high four homers and 14 RBIs in 16 games. Cespedes, meanwhile, finished at .167, collecting just one homer while toying with a shorter swing.
The Cuban slugger has since returned to his old swing, which produced a .240/.294/.442 line last year, with what he hopes is an improved approach.
• The platoon-crazed A's are slated to face just one left-hander in their first seven games, forcing manager Bob Melvin to get creative when it comes to getting the entirety of his roster playing time.
Catcher Derek Norris will start one of the club's three games against the Indians, Melvin said.
"I do like to try to get everyone involved within the first three or four days, especially the bench players, the role-type players," he said. "They're getting consistent at-bats in Spring Training, and you don't want anyone sitting around for six or seven days and losing their edge. So we'll take a look at that."
• Right-hander Jarrod Parker, who was in line to start Opening Day before undergoing a second Tommy John surgery last week, was in the A's clubhouse Monday afternoon and included in the club's on-field introductions prior to the Opening Night game.
• Ryan Cook (shoulder) pitched an inning in a Minor League game Monday and "felt good, and that's what we're most concerned with," Melvin said. The righty reliever is still on track to return Saturday.