PHOENIX -- Just how much spring training does a relief pitcher need before he's ready for the regular season?

The A's are about to find out. Ryan Cook, who has been out with shoulder discomfort, said over the weekend that he expects to be ready to start the season despite not having faced hitters yet this spring.

Oakland manager Bob Melvin would like to believe that's true, but he said Monday that the A's have to be prepared just in case Cook isn't ready come the March 31 opener against Cleveland at the Coliseum.

"It's going to be close to see if he's ready," Melvin said. "We're still holding out hope. It depends on how he does each and every time out."

The plan is for Cook to be tested in a bullpen session Thursday, throwing off a mound for the first time since feeling the discomfort in his right shoulder in the offseason. He likely would need a second session two to three days later, then he could face hitters sometime next week.

What would be about 6½ weeks of spring training work is being compressed into about three weeks, and the A's are not inclined to rush him. If Cook isn't good to go come March 31, the A's will turn to someone else until he is.

The good news for Oakland is that it has options. Luke Gregerson performed the same type of right-handed setup relief role in San Diego last year that Cook did in Oakland, going 6-8 with a 2.71 ERA. Cook was 6-4 with a 2.54 ERA.


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Dan Otero might not throw with the same high-90s velocity as Cook, but the former Triple-A closer in Sacramento had a 1.38 ERA and just six walks in 39 innings last year

And Jesse Chavez and Evan Scribner, right-handers both, have had impressive springs to date.

  • A.J. Griffin will be featuring a new look this year. The right-handed starter is ditching the cutter he picked up in 2011 in favor of the changeup that used to be part of his repertoire before he made it to the big leagues.

    He threw about half a dozen changeups and no cutters at all Monday in the A's 7-3 Cactus League win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Phoenix Muni.

    He said the cutter, which was effective in 2012 when he made the jump to the big leagues, was less so last year. He said throwing it put pressure on his elbow and that, because it was "85 mph that didn't move," it was in part to blame for his league-worst 36 homers allowed.

    "If I get the changeup going good again, I won't miss the cutter, and we can revisit it later," Griffin said. "In the minor leagues, it was like my bread and butter pitch. I could throw it any time, any count and be able to get a good strike."

  • John Jaso will be behind the plate for Tuesday's split-squad game against the Brewers in Phoenix. It will be his first game catching since being hit by a pitch above the right elbow Wednesday.

  • Fernando Abad is making a concerted push for the second lefty job in the bullpen. He has allowed one base runner in three innings, striking out four and allowing no runs.

  • Biggest hits of the A's seven-run third inning against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw were, in order, an RBI single by Sam Fuld, a bases-loaded two-run single by Nick Punto that put the A's ahead for good at 3-2, a two-run double by Josh Reddick and a two-run Daric Barton single.

  • Outfielder Billy Burns has stolen five bases in five tries the first week of the Cactus League season, including one Monday.

  • The Rangers claimed infielder Andy Parrino, whom the A's designated for assignment late last week. It reminded Melvin of the Rangers putting in multiple claims on infielder Adam Rosales last year. "It has that Rosey feel to it," Melvin said.

    For more on the A's, see John Hickey's Inside the A's blog at ibabuzz.com/athletics. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JHickey3.

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