Norberto raring to go, Melvin taking patient approach
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PHOENIX -- He stepped onto the bullpen mound at Papago Park and delivered 25 pitches from the left side. Later, wearing his customary number 77, and a thick black beard, Jordan Norberto seemed very happy coming off the practice field -- even after enduring sprints.

"I felt good today, ready to go," Norberto said.

Norberto's opinion doesn't quite mesh with the words coming from manager Bob Melvin. After two stints on the disabled list with left shoulder issues, Norberto's 2012 season was cut short. As a result, the experienced skipper is trying to take it slow with Norberto.

"I'm more cautious of him than he wants to be," Melvin said. "He wants to be a full-go guy, but he is so important to us, and we have such a long spring that we just want to make sure that each and every day he is healthy."

Norberto was 4-1 with a 2.77 ERA in 2012 with the A's. He was a very useful part of the A's bullpen because of his versatility. He threw more than one inning in 19 of his 39 appearances last season, and even earned a save. He had a reverse split and was better against right-handed hitters, who only hit .184 against him, than lefties, who hit .225.

"You look what he did for us last year, he was terrific," Melvin said. "He pitched in numerous types of roles. He's a valuable piece."

It's pretty easy to understand both sides of the story. Melvin is looking out for his reliever. while Norberto is trying to win a job in a very crowded bullpen. He won't be able to land a gig if he isn't fully healthy. The team doesn't want him to push himself too soon and then they both lose.

Still, Wednesday's return to the bullpen mound was an uneventful and thus momentous occasion.

"The last time I threw a bullpen before I came here I threw 45 pitches," Norberto said. "Today I threw 25 and I feel fine."