Notes: Gaudin gets back to starting role
Surgery not expected for Loaiza; Kielty feeling no pain in knee
SEATTLE -- It's not quite as easy as riding a bike, but A's righty Chad Gaudin and catcher Jason Kendall figure Gaudin's return to his roots as a starting pitcher won't pose much of a problem.
Gaudin worked exclusively out of Oakland's bullpen last season, and while his move into the rotation in the wake of righty Esteban Loaiza's bulging neck disc was a surprise, Gaudin is quick to remind that he was a starter as recently as a year ago.
"I think people forget that I started last year in [Triple-A] Sacramento's rotation," he said Wednesday before the finale of a three-game series against the host Mariners at Safeco Field. "And I've been a starter for most of my life, so I think it's going to be an easy transition. I really do."
Gaudin didn't just start for the River Cats last season. He dominated, going 3-0 with a 0.37 ERA in four starts.
"He's definitely got starter-type stuff," Kendall said. "He did a [heck] of a job in the bullpen for us last year, but he probably considers himself a starter at heart, anyway. Most young guys do. And he's started [10 games] in the big leagues, so it's not like they're asking him to do something he's never done before."
As a reliever, Gaudin relied heavily on his slider and two fastballs -- a two-seamer and a four-seamer. As a starter, Kendall said, he'll have to utilize his changeup and splitter more frequently.
"Coming out of the 'pen, if you've got two good pitches working, you can just stick with that for your inning or two," explained the veteran catcher. "Starting, you need to have a little bit more of a game plan and use everything you have to keep guys off-balance.
"But I've seen all of Chad's stuff, and it's good. I've got a lot of confidence calling everything he throws."
Gaudin said he'd have thrown more in the offseason and worked on his splitter more during Spring Training had he known he'd be starting this season, but the two spring starts he was given helped him make up for lost time.
"It's not like I ever stopped throwing [the split] completely, anyway," he said. "It's fine."
As for having to dial back the intensity relievers often take to the mound in a concession to the relatively languid pace of starting, Kendall told Gaudin not to do it.
"You can still be intense [as a starter]," Kendall said. "If you try to change who you are on the mound, you're asking for trouble."
Added Gaudin: "We've talked about that a little, and he told me not to change my mind-set. It's still pitching. It's still about getting outs."
No knife: A day after announcing that Loaiza will miss a minimum of two turns in the rotation, the A's got some positive medical news regarding first baseman Dan Johnson, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a torn labrum in his left hip.
"D.J. has received several orthopedic opinions, and there's no surgery recommended," manager Bob Geren said. "So that's good news."
Had Johnson required surgery, it was feared he'd have missed up to three months. There remains no timetable for Johnson's return, but noted he's been cleared to work with Paul Hospenthal, an Arizona-based physical therapist who has helped several A's work their way back from injury over the years.
"He's going to start Thursday in Phoenix," said Geren, who also didn't have a timeline for when Johnson might be cleared for baseball activities.
"I guess that would depend on how the therapy goes, right?" he said.
No harm trying: Bobby Kielty, who had minor knee surgery in early March, said his unsuccessful attempt to make a sliding catch in Tuesday's game -- it bounced off his knee and into foul ground -- didn't result in any day-after soreness.
"The ball hit my right knee, not my [surgically repaired] left," he explained. "I might be feeling it a little more if it hit the left, but I'm fine."
Kielty, who went 1-for-3, thinks any soreness he's felt lately has been related to the cold Northwestern weather.
"If I run around a lot out there during batting practice, there's a little something I can feel," he said. "But playing in the outfield, hitting, running the bases, everything's been good."
Dribblers: Righty Dan Haren, who drew some brief medical attention in Monday's opener after tweaking his right hip flexor, threw his normal side session before Wednesday's game with no problems. Haren also revealed the reason he "panicked for a second" when it happened: He hurt the hip during his offseason workouts with bullpen catcher Brandon Buckley and stopped all stretching in the area for two weeks to allow it to calm down. "It's fine," Haren said. "I iced it [Monday night] and that was it." ... Kendall, who offered to restructure his contract in the offseason to give the A's more payroll flexibility, reiterated that he'd like to stay with the A's beyond this season but said he's yet to meet with general manager Billy Beane on the topic. They were scheduled to sit down this spring, but something came up with Kendall's family and he had to cancel. "After that, we were both pretty busy," Kendall said. "No big deal." ... Outfielder Nick Swisher, with whom the A's have discussed a contract extension that will take him through his arbitration years, said there haven't been any talks on that front, either. ... Closer Huston Street and lefty long man Lenny DiNardo were the only two relievers who didn't see action in the first two games of the season. Geren said he'd use Street on Wednesday whether or not there was a save situation. ... Outfielder Mark Kotsay, who had back surgery in early March and is rehabbing in the San Diego area, is expected to pop in for a clubhouse visit at some point during Oakland's upcoming visit to Anaheim.
Up next: Gaudin (4-2, 3.09 ERA in 2006) will take on lefty Joe Saunders (7-3, 4.71 ERA) of the Angels on Thursday in the opener of the four-game series at Angel Stadium. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.