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SEEN: Balfour's rage is on hold - Our camera caught Grant Balfour's first spring bullpen session, and it also caught him limping off after. It turns out the A's closer tore his right meniscus and had to under-go surgery today. He's expected to be sidelined for at least 6-8 weeks. This is where Oakland's depth plays its part in the form of Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle. Manager Bob Melvin called them "obvious choices" for that role, but he also pointed out that being a glass "half-full" kind of guy, if this was going to happen to Balfour, this was the time for it to happen.
"He's a grinder," Melvin explained, to the extent that Balfour actually played catch this morning before his surgery.
HEARD: Battery-mate laughter. "You going to laugh every time I throw the ball?" A.J. Griffin asked new catcher John Jaso during his bullpen session today.
Jaso hollered back, "It's something about the way you throw the ball. It tickles my glove."
MVP Status: Michael Taylor is money, or 'Moneyball' that is. After the position players took BP at Phoenix Muni, a few stayed after to log another hour of practice. Jemile Weeks, Hiro Nakajima and Daric Barton took extra swings in the cages. Meanwhile Michael Taylor headed over to first base. Yes, the former Stanford outfielder is trying to pull a Scott Hatteberg.
Don't worry, Taylor is not stealing Hatteberg's thunder: he's trying to emulate the transition the former Athletic mastered. The former catcher turned first baseman stood about four feet away from Taylor, teaching him the tricks of first base.
"The biggest adjustment is the speed," Hatteberg explained to me after. "The ball comes at you a lot faster." He also went on to explain it can be frustrating trying to pick-up a new position later in your career.
But as the 27-year-old Taylor laid it out, "I basically came to the conclusion at this point in my career that having as many hats in my closet is a positive thing."
Must be that Stanford education, but Taylor might be on to something. With the A's crowded outfield and after watching Brandon Moss make a successful transition at first last year, who knows? There could be a platoon option with Taylor and Moss in the near future.
"A guy with his pop, you want to see him in the mix," Hatteberg said.
Around the Horn: Happy Birthday and Valentine's Day to Derek Norris.
The A's catcher turns "the BIG 2-4" today and explained to me he's used to spending Feb. 14 alone at dinner while his family is back home and friends are out with their wives and girlfriends.
But don't worry, an Aussie is to the rescue.
"Oh, I'll go out with the mate," Travis Blackley laughed. "After explaining what great Valentine's Days I always have, spending the day with 40 dudes."
Sean Doolittle chimed in on his go-to-gift that's been successful for him in the past.
"The giant life-sized Teddy Bear," Doolittle said. "Think outside the box."
Meanwhile Jerry Blevins fondly recalls memories of Heart Day from his childhood.
"Ah. Those Valentines from your classmates and those candy hearts, Blevins said. "Those were the best."