McCarthy gets nod to start opening day for A’s

The Oakland Athletics have their opening day starter, and it’s
right-hander Brandon McCarthy.

Manager Bob Melvin made the announcement Tuesday, saying
McCarthy was an easy choice based on last year’s results and trades
that left the team without All-Stars Gio Gonzalez and Trevor
Cahill.

The A’s open their season in Japan on March 28. Bartolo Colon
gets the call to start the second game the following day.

”He was a natural pick after last year and with the pitchers we
ended up trading away,” Melvin said of McCarthy. ”He’s been
focused this spring knowing he has to get ready a little earlier.
He looks like he’s in midseason form.”

McCarthy had a career high in wins, starts, complete games,
innings pitched and strikeouts last season. He was 9-9 with five
complete games in 25 starts, and had 123 strikeouts in 170 2-3
innings.

McCarthy also recorded a 4.92 to 1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, the
highest by an A’s pitcher since 1901. He walked 25 batters.

”He’s so precise, so focused, that sometimes he doesn’t think
about throwing a ball for effect,” Melvin said. ”He doesn’t
change the eye level. The fewer guys you put on base, the fewer
opportunities they have to score.”

McCarthy, who signed with the A’s as a free agent after spending
2010 in the minors, did not hit a batter last season.

”I know what it takes to get ready for a season,” McCarthy
said. ”If you are mentally ready, however you work is the right
path. I feel comfortable and am what where I want to be.”

McCarthy’s wife, Amanada, also expressed her feelings in a
tweet: ”Last year fighting for a spot this year opening day guy.
So unbelievably proud of my husband! Ready to get my cheerleader
on!”

Colon, signed as a free agent in January, is a 14-year veteran
with 161 career wins.

”He’s a calm guy, a calm thinker and just goes about his
business,” Melvin said. ”His mechanics, to me, really stand out.
He may not be one of the most talkative guys but when he gets on
the mound he knows what works for him. He can read hitters
well.”

Notes: A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki on losing third baseman Scott
Sizemore (torn ACL in left knee) for the season: ”There’s nothing
you can say to make him feel better. You just try to be a good
friend and a good teammate. He was so dedicated and so excited for
the season, and such a freak accident, it sucks.” … RHP Brad
Peacock felt some back stiffness Monday and was given a day off.
He’ll throw to hitters one more time before being used in a game.
… The A’s scheduled a four-inning scrimmage for Thursday at
Phoenix Muni.