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Maxwell struck by bat, escapes concussion

MLB.com @JaneMLB

MESA, Ariz. -- A's catcher Bruce Maxwell was OK after being struck in the head by Angels hitter Jefry Marte's backswing in the second inning of Friday's 9-8 A's win at Hohokam Stadium.

Maxwell remained on his back in the dirt behind home plate for several moments before he was helped to his feet and removed from the game to undergo concussion protocol.

MESA, Ariz. -- A's catcher Bruce Maxwell was OK after being struck in the head by Angels hitter Jefry Marte's backswing in the second inning of Friday's 9-8 A's win at Hohokam Stadium.

Maxwell remained on his back in the dirt behind home plate for several moments before he was helped to his feet and removed from the game to undergo concussion protocol.

Thankfully, it was not as bad as it seemed. When passing reporters in the clubhouse, Maxwell said, "Don't worry guys, I'm not dead. I'm fine."

After the game, Oakland manager Bob Melvin confirmed Maxwell does not have a concussion, "just a big knot on the top of his head."

Considering Maxwell took a series of such hits to the head on multiple occasions last season, Melvin said, "He scared the hell out of me right there."

Maxwell is next scheduled to play Monday.

Starting battles begin
Friday's spring opener offered a glimpse at two of the A's starting candidates: right-handers Daniel Mengden and Paul Blackburn, who produced different results.

Mengden started the game and needed 33 pitches to record two outs, and Blackburn made it through his scheduled two innings in the team's win over an Angels squad featuring just one regular in the starting lineup: backup catcher Rene Rivera.

But only so much can be gleaned from a spring debut.

"It's about throwing quality strikes, feeling good and progressing from there," said Mengden, a favorite to land the No. 3 spot in the rotation behind Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea after posting a 1.54 ERA in five starts upon being recalled in September.

Mengden was on the hook for two runs and five hits, many of them sharp grounders finding holes, "but it happens," he said. "Not the results you want to see, but I felt good and my pitches looked good."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Blackburn's chances of making the team are also strong. He compiled a 3.22 ERA during an impressive 10-start stretch as a rookie last year before going down to injury. Friday marked his first appearance in a game since Aug. 22.

Blackburn responded by keeping the ball down, retiring the side in quick fashion in the third and using an inning-ending double play in the fourth to keep the Angels off the board, despite yielding two walks and a double in the frame.

"It's good to be out there again," said Blackburn, who is working to increase his usage of the changeup and curveball. "There are some little things to work on, but all in all I felt like it was good."

Fowler could be in lineup soon
Center fielder Dustin Fowler was in Chicago on Friday for his scheduled checkup appointment with Dr. Charles Bush-Joseph, who was expected to clear him for game action.

Fowler underwent surgery on an open rupture of his right patellar tendon just seven months ago.

"From the time he started rehabbing this knee, he's been passing all the markers beautifully, exactly how they lay it out, and he's a hard-working guy, and usually those guys do recover the way he has," Melvin said. "We're on the verge of getting him in some games."

Quotable
"I don't think anyone was shocked. You shake your head and say, 'Really?' It's only Spring Training, but when you have the type of year he did and you come out and hit a home run, it kind of makes you feel like, I can do this again."
-- Melvin, on Matt Olson homering in his first spring at-bat after totaling 24 homers in 59 games as a rookie last year

Up next
Another pair of rotation candidates will be in action when the A's return to Hohokam Stadium on Saturday for a 12:05 p.m. PT matchup with the Padres that will be broadcast live on Gameday Audio. Right-hander Andrew Triggs gets the start, and right-hander Jharel Cotton is also scheduled to pitch in the game. Elsewhere, sluggers Khris Davis and Brandon Moss will make their spring debuts.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

Oakland Athletics, Bruce Maxwell