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MESA, Ariz. – Brad Mills will start for the A’s in Tuesday’s Cactus League opener against the Giants, with Jesse Chavez going Wednesday and Barry Zito making his first spring start Thursday.
Mills’ name tends to get lost in the shuffle in Oakland’s crowded rotation battle, but he does have the advantage of familiarity, having made three starts for the A’s last season before being designated for assignment in July. He was claimed off waivers by Toronto at that time, then re-signed with the A’s on a minor league deal in the offseason.
Mills, who went 1-1 with a 4.41 ERA in his three starts last season, would probably have to dazzle in the spring – and some others would have to falter – for him to make the team as either a starter or long reliever. But he’s an experienced pitcher and he held down the fort briefly in 2014 when starter Drew Pomeranz was lost to an injury.
“Anybody is in the mix here if they do well,” manager Bob Melvin said. “The fact that he has been here gives him a leg up on maybe certain other guys, but we have a bunch of guys, and if you perform well, whether you start (the season) with us or not, you have a chance to pitch here.”
Chavez, a strong candidate for the rotation, will start Wednesday against the Giants in Scottsdale. Zito, a non-roster invitee to camp, will make his first start in a major league game since September 2013 when he faces the Cubs in Thursday’s road game.