PHOENIX -- Before undergoing Tommy John surgery in June of 2009, lefty Josh Outman sported stirrups and a hard-throwing presence with solid secondary stuff and excellent command.
Nearly two years and several setbacks later, on a warm day in the confines of Phoenix Municipal Stadium, all of the above were finally present again. Well, almost all of the above.
"I hadn't done this in so long that they forgot to get me stirrups," a smiling Outman said following a 20-pitch intrasquad outing.
Outman settled on long, yellow, green-striped socks -- "Like the ones you wear in Little League," he noted -- and proceeded to allow just one hit, a Coco Crisp single up the middle, during his 20-pitch affair.
"After everything he's been through, it's good to see him do that," A's manager Bob Geren said. "His velocity was pretty good, and he had a pretty good changeup."
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"I'm still trying to feel comfortable letting it all go," he said. "I'm pitching without pain, but there's still a little bit of hesitation to throw 100 percent. Finishing pitches, that's something I'm slowly getting used to again."
Outman, if healthy throughout camp, is seemingly on track to grab hold of the fifth starter's spot, especially given Rich Harden's latest bump in the road with a stiff lat muscle. Geren endorsed that notion on Thursday when asked about Outman and fellow rehabbing hurler Joey Devine, both of whom he said are "going to be here" come April if they "look like they're ready to pitch on this team, in this league."
"I'm going to go with the 12 best pitchers," the A's skipper said. "If they're one of them, then great. We saw what they're capable of doing when they're not hurt."
Devine, who also tallied 20 pitches in Thursday's intrasquad game, didn't quite fare as well on the mound, though good news came in the fact his elbow felt just fine after the contest. The right-handed reliever, battling for a spot in Oakland's elite bullpen, surrendered two walks and struggled with command, though Geren expects him to "get better each time out."
"He didn't have the command he wanted to, but his elbow felt great," added Outman of his rehab partner. "If we have to give up a few runs this spring in order to get back on track and feel comfortable again, then so be it. It's really not how you start but how you finish."
Both hurlers are expected to seek the mound again on Sunday, when the A's christen the Cactus League season with an away game against the Cubs at Hohokam Park in Mesa, Ariz. Righty Trevor Cahill is slated to start the affair, with Outman, Devine, Tyson Ross, Bobby Cramer, Brad Ziegler and Danny Farquhar scheduled to follow.