PHOENIX (AP) - The Oakland Athletics' bullpen had a good day Tuesday - despite the final score.
The Athletics were in the final stages of an 8-1 split-squads loss to the Chicago Cubs when club officials learned that the arm injury sustained by closer Andrew Bailey on Monday was not as serious as first feared.
Instead of ligament damage in his right elbow that could have put him out for a lengthy period, Bailey's condition was diagnosed as a strained forearm during an examination in Birmingham, Ala., by Dr. James Andrews, who performed surgery to remove debris from the elbow area on Sept. 24.
Bailey left Monday's game against the Cleveland Indians in Goodyear, Ariz., in the seventh inning, grabbing his elbow after a pitch to Ezequiel Carrerra.
According to a release from the team, Bailey experienced no swelling and can resume throwing when the discomfort subsides.
``Any time a pitcher comes out of a game like Andrew did, you hold your breath,' said Athletics vice president and general manager Billy Beane. ``While there is no timetable on his return, this is welcome news.'
At his morning briefing with the media before heading off to Surprise, Ariz., for a split-squad game against Kansas City, Oakland manager Bob Geren said he would wait to hear the news on Bailey before making any decisions. One thing was for certain: Veteran left-hander Brian Fuentes would have been put in the closer's spot.
``We have a good bullpen. We have confidence in all of them,' Geren said.
The news for the Athletics was even better when right-handed setup man Michael Wuertz pitched a scoreless seventh inning in his first appearance of the spring, giving up one hit, walking one and striking out one.
He had shoulder tendinitis early in 2010 but went on to appear in 48 games (2-3, 4.31 ERA). He was 6-1 with a 2.74 ERA in 74 appearances in 2009 after being acquired from the Cubs.
``I had a little bit of rust, but overall, it was a good, positive outing,' Wuertz said. ``It was good getting back out there, back in the flow. It was nice to have runners on in the spring to help ramp up the intensity.'
He used all of his pitches and was optimistic about the development of his slider, which traditionally is the last to come around.
Wuertz doesn't feel the need to rush things to be ready for Opening Day.
``I'll be ready, no doubt,' he said. ``I just need to continue to get sharp, build arm strength and get my rhythm.'
One of the biggest factors for the Athletics in their quest to win the AL West this year will be the health of the bullpen, Wuertz said.
``We have a deep bullpen for a reason,' he said.
The Cubs got solo home runs from three of their young prospects, Brett Jackson (sixth inning), Tyler Colvin and Welington Castillo (back-to-back in the eighth). Chicago then finished with four runs in the ninth.
Right-hander Andrew Cashner made his second start of the spring and fourth overall appearance, coming up with an effective effort, giving up a run on two hits with three walks and two strikeouts in 3 1-3 innings.
The hits were by the first two batters he faced in the game: Coco Crisp (double) and Daric Barton (RBI single). Oakland had only one other hit in the game, a single by Wes Timmons.
Notes: Oakland RHP Rich Harden (strained lat muscle) is expected to begin throwing on Thursday after being given the go-ahead by a doctor. ... The A's are off Wednesday, but fifth-starter candidate Tyson Ross and reliever Craig Breslow are expected to throw in a minor-league game. ... DH Hideki Matsui was hitless in four at_bats and left five runners stranded. He is hitting just .100. ... The Cubs also are off Wednesday, and will return with a full squad to face the A's on Thursday.
The Associated Press News Service
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