In Saturday afternoon’s duel between two former teammates, Athletics starter Barry Zito went two innings and Giants starter Tim Hudson went 1 1/3. Zito left to a standing ovation and Hudson gave a curtain call to the Oakland crowd. Hudson has announced he will retire after the season, and Zito will likely do the same.
Zito gave up four runs on six hits and a walk with no strikeouts in his two innings of work. He was relieved by Pat Venditte in the third. Hudson yielded three runs (two earned) on a hit and three walks with no strikeouts, leaving with one out in the second inning, giving way to Ryan Vogelsong.
Zito and Hudson were teammates on the Athletics from 2000-04 before Hudson was traded to the Braves. The club had drafted Zito in the first round, ninth overall, in the 1999 draft while they took Hudson in the sixth round in the 1997 draft.
Here’s video of both players getting some much-deserved adulation from the crowd:
Barry Zito’s comeback with the A’s fell a bit short of him making the team out of spring training. But the A’s still wanted him and sent him to Triple-A Nashville. As a veteran with his tenure, his money and his particular career path, you wouldn’t have been crazy to think that he’d say thanks but no thanks and retreat to one of his multiple California estates to drink wine and enjoy time with his family rather than pitch to guys 15 years younger than him in the Tennessee humidity.
But he is going to Nashville. And as John Shea writes in the Chronicle, it has a lot to do with the words spoken by and the example set by Rickey Henderson. Words about how baseball is fun and how having a positive attitude despite setbacks can be the difference between Zito coming back to the majors or not. The example of playing in independent ball despite already having a ticket punched to the Hall of Fame and all of the money he’d ever need.
If you’re of a certain age you remember a time when Rickey Henderson was thought of as a selfish, arrogant player who didn’t give a crap about anything. Did age change Rickey or did everyone have him wrong back in the day?
Barry Zito threw a scoreless inning against the Giants in Saturday’s spring training finale, then learned after the game that he’d been assigned to the minor leagues, per MLB.com’s Jane Lee. Zito, who could have elected free agency, has accepted the assignment and will begin the 2015 season with Triple-A Nashville.
Zito, making a comeback bid after sitting out the 2014 season, compiled a 4.79 ERA with a 14/5 K/BB ratio in 20 2/3 innings this spring. He had been hoping to win a spot in the Athletics’ starting rotation, and when that wasn’t a possibility, he vied for a bullpen spot.
Zito, now 36, hasn’t been the same since leaving the Athletics after the 2006 season. Over the next seven seasons, all with the Giants, Zito posted a 4.62 ERA in 1,139 1/3 innings.
Barry Zito, on a minor league deal with the Athletics has had a strong start to the spring. With three more shutout innings against the Dodgers on Friday, Zito lowered his Cactus League ERA to 3.09. He’s gone multiple innings in all four of his outings, working as if he were to contribute as a starting pitcher.
However, the Athletics’ starting rotation battle is already packed with Jesse Hahn, Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolan, and Kendall Graveman. There just doesn’t seem to be room to take a gamble on Zito bouncing back after taking the 2014 season off. CSN Bay Area’s Joe Stiglich suggests Zito could contribute to the A’s as a long reliever. He noted that manager Bob Melvin said he thinks his team needs a long reliever as well.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle thinks Zito is a long shot to make the roster, but seems likely to wind up on someone else’s roster.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Three other random observations from spring training this fine afternoon, all of which are very spring training-y kinds of thoughts.
1. This is Clayton Kershaw. He’s a bad, bad man:
But that bad, bad man also hung a curveball to Nick Hundley who deposited it over the fence, Matt Adams-style. I tweeted a joke about him being in postseason form after it happened and some people got genuinely irked. Some other people did the Twitter equivalent of nodding their heads. Combine that with this dumb article from Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday about how the Dodgers’ postseason failure last year was due to some character deficit or something, and you see the makings of the Post-Hoc Narrative Industrial Complex. Baseball just happens, man. Sometimes curveballs get hung.
2. There were two scouts here in the Cambelback press box a couple of hours ago, talking about a pitcher. The pitcher looked good. Sharp. They were impressed by his ticked-up velocity. They think he has a chance to really be special this year. The pitcher’s name: Barry Zito. Indeed, they each prefaced their compliments about the guy with things like “I know it’s Zito,” or “I know it’s just a couple of games in,” but their excitement was real.
In the past I’d chalk all of this up to spring enthusiasm and stuff, but man, Scott Kazmir happened, so I’ll believe anything anymore.
3. Down the road from here in Goodyear, the Cubs are playing the Indians. A few minutes ago Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant hit back-to-back-to-back homers off of Trevor Bauer.
I know there was already a ton of optimism about the Cubs heading into this season, but it’s probably off the charts in Cubs Country this afternoon.
I’ll be at Cubs camp in Mesa tomorrow to see how nuts it really is.