Figueroa out of WBC mix; Okajima arrives
Oakland was expected to send just one player to the World Baseball Classic this year, but as of Tuesday morning that number shrunk to zero, with manager Bob Melvin telling reporters it’s his understanding that lefty Pedro Figueroa — anticipated to pitch for the Dominican Republic — will not be leaving the A’s this spring. That’s a relief for any club, since it allows everyone to remain on the same page for the duration of camp without any interruption. This also gives Figueroa more time to show the A’s he belongs in the bullpen, a challenge made tougher this year because of an abundance of depth, particularly amongst left-handers. There’s plenty of competition, and Figueroa’s absence could have easily paved the way for another arm to gain an edge for a roster spot. Melvin had not spoken to Figueroa about any of this yet, but he was under the impression that the reliever was the one who made the decision.
In other news, a new reliever (yes, another) showed up in A’s camp today. Hideki Okajima, whose Minor League deal with the A’s was made official Tuesday morning, was welcomed into the clubhouse just about an hour before the pitchers and catchers began their first official workout. The 37-year-old left-hander believed his career to be over after he failed a physical with the Yankees last spring, and he said he’s still befuddled why New York thought there was trouble with his pitching shoulder, since he was fully healthy at the time. He’s still fully healthy and grateful for the opportunity given to him by the A’s, who already have another Japanese player on their roster in Hiroyuki Nakajima. Okajima is also familiar with pitching coach Curt Young from their time together in Boston. Young said of Okajima, “He knows how to get people out.”
It’s Brett Anderson and A.J. Griffin, along with new reliever Chris Resop, throwing side sessions this morning here at Papago Park. Righty reliever Andrew Carignan, rehabbing from Tommy John, will also throw a side — 25 pitches — as he aims for a midseason return.