MESA, Ariz. – Barry Zito’s next outing will come Tuesday in relief of Sonny Gray, though manager Bob Melvin said that doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t get any more starts this spring.
“We’ll see where it goes from there,” Melvin said Friday morning. “I’m not saying he won’t get another start. We’re just trying to keep him on a good schedule. That’s the day we felt was best for him to pitch. It doesn’t preclude him from getting another start. We just don’t know yet.”
Zito made his first start in a professional game since September 2013 on Thursday against the Cubs. He threw two innings, struck out two and allowed a two-run homer. The 36-year-old left-hander said he was happy with how things felt after a season spent away from the game, and Melvin gave him positive reviews as well.
Zito is on a minor league contract and is among several pitchers competing for three open spots in the rotation behind Gray and Scott Kazmir. One of those other candidates, right-hander Kendall Graveman, starts Friday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Another goes Saturday when Chris Bassitt takes the ball against the Los Angeles Angels.
Catcher Stephen Vogt, recovering from right foot surgery, will run the bases either Friday or Saturday. If that goes well, Melvin will look to get him into a game as the designated hitter before Vogt makes his debut behind the plate.
Speaking of catchers, Josh Phegley returned to the team after being on hand for the birth of his daughter, and he’s starting behind the plate as expected Friday against Arizona.
Still no word on when Sean Doolittle will begin throwing. The closer continues doing strengthening exercises in his rehab from a slight rotator cuff tear in his throwing shoulder, and Melvin said things are progressing well.
In other bullpen news, Ryan Cook and Eric O’Flaherty will make their first Cactus League appearances Saturday against the Angels.
A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker are both scheduled to throw off the mound Friday. This will mark Parker’s third time using all his pitches off the mound, and Melvin said the right-hander is getting close to throwing live batting practice against hitters. The tentative timetable for both to return from Tommy John surgery is June.