The Oakland Athletics enter the home stretch of their 2011 Spring Training schedule as they have only ten more games remaining before opening day, three of which are back in the Bay in their annual exhibition Battle of the Bay with the San Francisco Giants. The A's are currently 10-14-1 in Cactus League play as their pitching has been less than stellar thus far. While the A's would like to see stronger performances from the likes of Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson, this exhibition season is just about getting them into the regular season healthy and ready to go.
The A's enter this final stretch with 35 men on the roster. Before and after today's double-header the team made twelve roster cuts, sending players to their minor league camp. The most significant of those cuts were the morning decisions to send down pitchers Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscoso. Sending these two pitchers down reduces the battle for the A's fifth starter spot, leaving Brandon McCarthy, Tyson Ross and Bobby Cramer in that battle. Rich Harden was expected to be part of the battle but is battling back from an early spring lat injury. Outman seemed to gain some measure of perspective after his Tommy John surgery:
"My main goal for the spring was to stay healthy," said Outman, his packed bags sitting by his side. "It looks like I'm going to be able to hold on to that goal. Everything else is secondary. Making the team would have been great. Making the rotation would have been fantastic. In the meantime, I've been given the opportunity to continue being a starter and I know that, at some point, I'll be back with the Major League team, helping them win."
The A's have a long history of injuries throughout their roster, so I would not be shocked to see Outman up in Oakland before too long. Additionally, he arguably has as much talent as several of the starters that will start the season in Oakland.
At this point Brandon McCarthy would seem to hold the lead over Ross and Cramer for the fifth starter role. McCarthy has put up solid numbers in leading the A's in innings pitched this spring. McCarthy has thrown 20 2/3 innings with an ERA of 3.05 and a 0.92 WHIP thanks to no walks all spring. Tyson Ross has not given up a single run this spring but he's only received 9.2 innings of work. Ross worked primarily in relief for the A's last season and looks to be headed back to the bullpen to start 2011.
The remaining Athletics players reassigned to minor league camp are: