SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Hudson doesn't know if the A's will put Barry Zito back in their rotation, but he hopes the two get lined up to face each other on Sept. 26 in Oakland, where their careers started. And what would Mark Mulder, the third member of the Big Three, do on that day?
"Maybe see if he can catch our bullpens?" Hudson suggested, laughing.
Hudson has long been lined up to make his final road start in Oakland, and on Wednesday the A's added Zito to their active roster. For now, the A's say Zito will be used as bullpen help, but it just makes too much sense for Zito to start that game in Oakland. You figure someone will find a way to make this happen, and A's fans are already clamoring for it. Giants fans are, too.
"That would be really neat," Bob Melvin told reporters when asked about Zito and Hudson being in the same game. "I know I'd probably get goosebumps, too. We'll see how we get him there, but it would be great for him to not only pitch in that series but in particular that game against Hudson. That would be really special."
Hudson learned of the call-up when he saw it flash across the TV screen as he headed for AT&T Park.
"I haven't talked to him, but I'm really happy for him," he said. "It's something I'm sure he appreciated. I think he deserves it. It'll be cool just to be on the same field with him and pitching against each other. I think it'll be nice to see him. If it works out to where we compete against each other at the same time, I think it'll be special. I hope they feel the same way."
Injuries limited Zito late in the Triple-A season, and he's not currently stretched out to start. But who are we fooling here -- it's September, and teams are using their whole bullpens, anyway. It's been a week since the Giants saw an opposing pitcher last five innings, and on Sunday they faced Odrisamer Despaigne for three-plus innings just two days after the righty came out of San Diego's bullpen as the long man. It shouldn't be difficult to line Zito up as a starter for an inning or two, and manager Bruce Bochy said he's already hearing from people who want to see him work with Melvin to make the matchup happen.
"I've gotten a few texts already. I got one that said, 'How 'bout you have them face each other with no DH?'" Bochy said. "I'm happy for Barry. I really am. It's a great story and it's about playing the game because you love it, because you have a passion for it. Did he need to go down and travel and make the rough road trips? No. He didn't need to, but he loves baseball."
Bochy did some maneuvering to make Zito's final Giants performance memorable. Zito came out of the bullpen and struck out former teammate Mark Kotsay at the end of the 2013 season, and then got a thunderous ovation from the AT&T Park crowd. Now it's Hudson who is lined up for similar shows of appreciation.
"It's going to be really cool pitching in the place where my career started," Hudson said. "It'll be a special game for me personally. It'd be really cool to see Zito in the other dugout or possibly -- if things work out -- competing against him for an inning or two."