Off to see the A’s vs. Italy

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I’m going to Phoenix Municipal Stadium today to see the Oakland A’s play a game against team Italy from the WBC. It’s a warmup game for everyone, obviously. I just don’t know for which team it is a greater formality.

The big names on team Italy: Anthony Rizzo. Chris Denorfia. Nick Punto, who I’ve already seen play three friggin’ times in the past six days. Jason Grilli. Drew Butera and Tyler De La Torre are the team’s catchers, but Mike Piazza is a coach and even at this point might still be a better option. Pat Venditte will be there. That’s the guy who can pitch with either arm. I sorta want to see his two-thumb glove.

I’m about as hazy about WBC things as anyone you’ll meet, but my understanding is that once a team loses two games in the first round they’re done. Italy plays Mexico in its first real WBC game and should likely get beat. Then Canada. If they somehow make it through that they probably have the United States to deal with. What I’m saying is, today’s exhibition against the A’s is one of the final few games this squad is going to play together.

But it should be fun anyway. Maybe the uniforms will be nice. And heck, with my last name perhaps I can convince someone to let me play a little.

Michael Pineda throws off mound for first time since Tommy John surgery

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According to MLB.com associate reporter Jarrid Denney, right-hander Michael Pineda threw off a mound Wednesday morning at Target Field for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Pineda was signed to a two-year, $10 million free agent contract this winter by the Twins, who are probably more focused on what he might be able to do in 2019 rather than 2018.

He had the reconstructive elbow surgery last July 18, so he won’t be an option for the Minnesota rotation until probably late August or September of this year. Still, that deal seems like a nice gamble given the price point and the possibility that he will regain his form as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter. That he’s making steady progress in his rehab makes the situation all the more encouraging.

Pineda, 29, holds a 4.05 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 687 strikeouts in 680 career major league innings.