PHOENIX -- The Oakland Athletics' medical staff has been very busy this spring, trying to get the team's pitchers ready for the regular season.
Another key test came on Sunday when right-handed setup man Michael Wuertz saw his first action of the spring after dealing with shoulder soreness, taking the loss in a 4-3 defeat against a split-squad of Cincinnati Reds.Right-handed reliever Joey Devine and left-handed bullpen resident Craig Breslow (each with tendinitis) both threw on the side on Sunday, and right-handed closer Andrew Bailey (elbow) is due to throw Monday.One day after new right-handed starter Ben Sheets showed improvement after missing all of 2009 recovering from elbow surgery, Athletics left-hander Dallas Braden made his third start of the spring. He was affected for much of last season when complications from an infection in his left foot caused nerve damage, and he continues to experience periodic numbness.Wuertz gave up a pair of hits, including an RBI single to Chris Dickerson that snapped a 3-3 tie in the sixth inning, but still was encouraged by his outing. A wrap held a large bag of ice to his shoulder afterward."The shoulder feels good," said Wuertz, who was 6-1 with a 2.63 ERA in 74 games last season. "It's good to get out there for some game action, especially against somebody wearing another color uniform."He had success with his change-up, but not with his slider. He said he threw that three times, walking one man and giving up a hit on another.Braden, the Opening Day starter in 2009, gave up three runs -- two earned -- on eight hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out six in five innings."I felt good. The fastball command was good and the change-up was good," Braden said.He said he was a bit embarrassed when he dropped a return throw from shortstop Adam Rosales at first base on what appeared to be a double play started by first baseman Eric Chavez."PFP's (pitchers fielding plays) are the first thing you work on, almost even before you get your uniform," Braden said.Braden is now 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA. He is hoping that the numbness in his toes will disappear. He called it an annoyance."I've tried insoles, metal plates in my shoes (to help with the situation). I'm bringing in a witch doctor with a bucket of chicken tomorrow," Braden said. "But I can't worry too much about that. I've got baseballs to throw."
Jonny Gomes hit his fourth homer of the spring for the Reds, a shot off Braden to lead off the fourth inning. ... Veteran coach Chris Speier managed the Reds while manager Dusty Baker stayed back at home in Goodyear, Ariz., leading the other half of the squad that faced the Chicago Cubs. ... Oakland SS Adam Rosales, who was acquired in a trade with the Reds over the winter, hit a home run against his former team, leading off the fifth against Jared Burton, the eventual winning pitcher. ... After missing about 10 days, OF Coco Crisp (hamstring) is expected to return to the Oakland lineup today against Seattle in Peoria, Ariz. ... Oakland DH Jack Cust is 0 for 13 with nine strikeouts over his last four games. ... Oakland reassigned nine players to its minor-league camp: Ps Lenny DiNardo, Fernando Hernandez and Marcus McBeth; C Josh Donaldson; INFs Adrian Cardenas, Gregorio Petit and Eric Sogard; and OFs Corey Brown and Matt Carson.