EXTRAS: Straily makes a strong impression
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PHOENIX -- The news of closer Grant Balfour's knee surgery was a big surprise at A's camp on Thursday. He underwent a successful lateral meniscectomy of his right knee. Dr. Doug Freedberg, the same doctor that performed the surgery on Scott Sizemore's knee last year, did Balfour's operation.

There's no positive aspect to being on the shelf for any period of time, but if there is a bright side, it is that Balfour -- who threw a career-high 74 2/3 innings last season -- will get extra rest on his throwing arm.

"You never want to be hurt, you never want to have surgery, but if you are, you'd like to get it out of the way as soon as possible," A's starting pitcher Brett Anderson said while conducting an interview on Chronicle Live. "He's a hard worker and fortunately it's not his arm. People come back really quick from a meniscus tear."

No extensive damage was found when Balfour was under the knife, and the A's are optimistic he'll be back to pitching within 4-6 weeks.

Strong impressions:

-- A's manager Bob Melvin singled out Dan Straily after the workout on Thursday. The right-handed pitcher tossed an impressive session and didn't miss the mitt once.

"It's nice to see him having his focus, especially in bullpens like that," Melvin said.

Melvin also singled out left-handed pitchers Garrett Olsen (who is hard to miss because of his particularly thick beard), and Justin Thomas.

Lesson to be learned:

Prior to each group of pitcher's first throwing sessions, Melvin let the guys know that the coaches will be evaluating their work in games, not in practice. The reason he delivered this speech is because he didn't want people pushing too hard, too early and getting hurt. While Balfour's injury could easily have been caught earlier, the fact that he called attention to it after his first throwing session means the team can take care of the problem early and hope he returns before the season.

"If something is achy, if something bothers you a little bit, make sure you are proactive and get in the training room," Melvin said. "We have great trainers there. Make sure you get healthy so you are able to compete for a job when you are pitching in games."

Position change?

Michael Taylor was spotted taking ground balls at first base on Thursday. He was being instructed by Scott Hatteberg, Phil Garner, River Cats manager Steve Scarsone, and River Cats hitting coach Greg Sparks.

On Friday morning CSNBayArea.com will have a feature on Taylor's potential position switch, including video.