PHOENIX -- Prior to taking the mound for the first time in A's camp, Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour warmed up with a game of catch. At one point Balfour threw a ball that sailed over Colon's outstretched glove. The veteran starting pitcher turned, looked at how far the ball had rolled, flagged down a prospect and had him fetch the ball for him.
That's veteran savvy.
The 39-year-old pitcher and Balfour later took the mound at Papago Park and threw without issue. During Colon's throwing session, Hideki Okajima, 37, threw next to him.
"It's nice to see him on the mound and there's lots of things that catch your eye with him," Melvin said of Okajima.
The A's skipper liked what he saw from the Japanese veteran. He took the time to describe why Okajima is so deceptive on the mound.
"What the downhill plane creates, is that the ball is not in the hitting zone very long," Melvin said. "There's something to be said about that downhill plane, it's just tougher to square the ball up."
Taking the mound:
Colon, Okajima, Balfour, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, Jerry Blevins, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook, Jordan Norberto, and Sonny Gray were some of the notable pitchers to throw at A's camp on Wednesday.
Melvin spends most of his time watching the newer players because he knows what he has in his established guys, but the pops of the catcher's mitt resulting in the balls thrown by Parker piqued his interest. He later raved about his young up-and-coming starter.
"As a coach, manager, fan, anybody you could really just see his confidence grow as the year went along," Melvin said. "He's just a guy that belongs now. He didn't start with us and then ends up pitching the first game of the postseason. He's got a chance to be a terrific top of the rotation pitcher."
At one point during the throwing sessions the sound of the baseball cutting through the air seemed extra loud. Doolittle and Cook were bringing the heat simultaneously. Cook ratcheted up the intensity of the throwing session early by claiming that he was throwing harder than Doolittle.
The good natured ribbing is an example of how the two pitchers -- who are friends -- push each other.
Over at Phoenix Municipal Stadium all the position players in attendance took batting practice. After practice had wrapped up Hiro Nakajima, Adam Rosales, and Jemile Weeks walked over to the adjacent field and teed off on some more baseballs.
Nakajima and Weeks took turns soft tossing balls to each other in the cage so they could get in some extra hitting. Nakajima's interpreter played the role of catcher and helped translate for the two infielders.