Barry Zito officially returned the mound for the Oakland Athletics today in his 2015 Cactus league debut against the Chicago Cubs.
Zito hadn’t pitched in the green and gold since October 10, 2006 in game one of the American League Championship Series. He was picked up on a minor league free agent deal this offseason and is a candidate for one of two spots in the Oakland rotation.
He lasted two innings, surrendering two earned runs, both courtesy of a Mike Olt home run. He retired the first five Cubs batters he faced before nicking Chris Coghlan with a pitch in the second inning. Olt then followed with a home run, and Ryan Sweeney followed that with a single before Zito retired the side. Zito’s outing came with some encouraging signs like his two strikeouts and 86+ MPH velocity readings.
Zito may, or may not, make the club out of spring training, but this outing has to at least feel good for the veteran on the comeback trail. He showed his famous curveball and a changeup in the outing, each pitch recording a strikeout apiece.
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Other News and Notes:
- The game resulted in a 2-2 tie. The Athletics are now 2-0-1 shortly into the Cactus League season.
- Other notable pitching performances came from switch pitcher Pat Venditte who is trying to lock down a roster spot, and Tyler Clippard, and Fernando Abad. All three pitched scoreless frames.
- Zito’s primary catcher this spring, Luke Carlin, said his velocity has increased already.
- Coco Crisp began the left field experiment and played his first spring game after recovering from pink eye. He went hit-less and caught one routine fly ball.
- Tyler Ladendorf saw time in left field. He is viewed as a candidate for the open utility spot, but showed even more versatility last year by playing the outfield.
- Rangel Ravelo, acquired in the Jeff Samardzija trade with the Chicago White Sox, saw time at first base and recorded his first hit with an RBI double.
- Billy Burns stole his first base of the spring. He led the Athletics with 20 hits and 10 stolen bases last spring.
- Stephen Vogt remains out of action. After seeing action in the game yesterday, Nate Freiman is now sidelined for two weeks with muscle strain.