Sunday, February 21, 2010

Slap Hitter: A's begin Spring Sprainings

By Kibby Kleiman
Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 7:47 PM

Pitchers and catchers reported today, and the A's are already in mid-season injury form. Annointed staff ace Justin Duchscherer who couldn't pitch when 2009 began because of a balky back is reporting back problems. Last year's staff ace, Dallas Braden couldn't finish 2009 when a bad toe turned into a bad rash, is reporting numbness in his foot to start this season. That means newly acquired ace, Ben Sheets, who didn't throw a pitch in anger in 2009 due to elbow surgery is our healthiest number one pitcher going into March.

The fact is that this isn't just bad luck, it's by design. The A's can't (or won't) buy premium goods at a full retail. That means we get deals on as-is products. It is also why having seven starters vying for pitching jobs this spring will be sadly compelling. The division we're playing in is appreciably tougher. The Mariners signing a Cy Young hurler in the prime of his career (Cliff Lee), the Rangers signing a slugger in the tail end of his baseball life, who lives to kill Oakland (Vladimir Guerrero) and the Angels, who just keep doing everything fundamentally right, except when they move one of their key pieces (Chone Figgins) to another team in the division (Seattle).

Spring stories are almost always of the uplifting kind. "So and so's comeback is going great". "These kids may not make the big league roster, but you can bet we're going to here from them sometime during the season". And then there's ours: "The injury isn't as bad as it looks" or "with a couple of days rest, I think we're going to see him taking grounders any day now."

So ready yourselves for Spring in the way that only the Oakland A's can do it: with your fingers crossed, but not too tightly; wouldn't want to have to splint them.

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