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Spring time running short for Gentry, Cook

Duo back in action at Minors camp; facing potential DL stints to open season

PHOENIX -- Even though Craig Gentry and Ryan Cook finally have health on their side, Father Time will prevent them from appearing on the A's Opening Day roster.

No decisions have been finalized, but the club is expected to be without the pair when the season opens March 31. There just aren't enough days remaining on the exhibition schedule for Gentry and Cook to be ready.

That much is clear, even though manager Bob Melvin is not ready to say as much.

"We're getting late," Melvin said Friday, "but I have nothing to report."

Friday marked the earliest day teams can backdate their players on the disabled list if the intent is to have them spend no more than six days on the DL when the season opens. If a player partakes in any game past Friday, the DL date is backdated to that day -- which is why the A's are expected to keep Cook and Gentry in Minor League games going forward.

Gentry played in his first one Thursday, going 1-for-3. Cook will pitch in a Minor League game Saturday, throwing one inning, and Gentry will get another round of at-bats in the same contest.

"I know, right now, they like having me in Minor League games because I can lead off and get as many at-bats as I want," Gentry said Friday. "I think that's the biggest thing right now, getting a bunch of at-bats.

"Whether it takes 10 at-bats or 60, feeling comfortable is the biggest thing for me. Hopefully this is one of those springs where I can feel comfortable quick. Going down to the Minor League games, hopefully that speeds the process up. If I feel like I can't go out there and use my speed and do the things I need to do, I'm no help to the team. But I'm trying everything I can to be ready for Opening Day."

The outfielder, who suffered a lower back strain on the first day of workouts, said he didn't expect the rehab process to be so lengthy, "but I definitely agree with playing it on the safe side."

"It was probably necessary and the best thing for me," Gentry added. "It's just a good thing it happened during Spring Training and not the regular season."

Though starting his first season with the A's on the DL isn't ideal for Gentry, it could actually prove beneficial in multiple ways.

First, it allows Oakland to keep Sam Fuld on its roster as the fourth outfielder, rather than risk losing him on his first opt-out date, March 26. For Gentry, the extra time not only allows him the ability to rack up more at-bats but to ensure he's with his wife, Jordan, for the birth of their first child, a girl due to arrive April 7.

Fuld is batting .304 (14-for-46) with a .373 on-base percentage in 16 spring games, impressing equally with his defense.

"I've said all spring, I don't know that I've seen a more fundamentally sound outfielder than Sam Fuld," Melvin said. "He's never fooled, at this point, by any ball in any field, whether it's slicing, whether it's hooking. Line drives in front of him, he's fearless, he gets good reads on them. If there's ever a place where you can look bad in the outfield, it's Spring Training in Arizona."

Outfielder Michael Taylor, out of options, also has enjoyed an excellent spring, but he's more likely to be traded by Opening Day.

The bullpen, meanwhile, remains the club's biggest strength, even without Cook. In his place, Oakland is expected to choose either Joe Savery or Josh Lindblom to join a relief corps that already boasts a laundry list of proven arms: Jim Johnson, Sean Doolittle, Luke Gregerson, Dan Otero, Fernando Abad and Evan Scribner.

Jane Lee is a reporter for

Oakland Athletics, Ryan Cook, Craig Gentry