For most, the smiles and easy laughter stemmed from the prospect of finally breaking camp after six weeks in the desert. And lefty Joe Kennedy was particularly pleased, having received some very good news upon arriving in the morning.
One player did, however, have a bummer of a day.
Minutes after manager Bob Geren made a widely expected announcement by saying, "Joe Kennedy has been officially named the No. 5 starter," assistant general manager David Forst told reporters, "We're returning Rule 5 outfielder Ryan Goleski to the Indians."
And with that, Goleski's brief but somewhat strange saga with the A's came to an end that Goleski called "disappointing."
Goleski was acquired in December, when the Devil Rays agreed to pluck him from the Cleveland organization with the first pick in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 draft and send him to the A's in exchange for $100,000.
Shortly thereafter, it was learned that Goleski had recently underwent wrist surgery, and the A's weren't very pleased about having paid for damaged goods.
The Indians agreed to compensate Oakland for any time Goleski might miss while rehabbing, but Goleski showed up at camp much further along than anyone expected, and he didn't miss any time.
"As far as we're concerned, he was 100 percent healthy," Forst said. "There's not going to be any conversation [with the Indians] about [money.]"
What Goleski did miss was a lot of two-strike pitches. Through Tuesday, he was batting .152 (7-for-46) with a team-high 17 strikeouts. And with fellow outfielder Bobby Kielty expected to be fully recovered from knee surgery by Opening Day, the A's have no room on the big-league roster for Goleski, whom the Indians were happy to take back.
"We talked to them about a potential trade [that would allow Oakland to keep Goleski]," Forst said. "But we knew all along that they were going to want him back if he didn't make our team."
Meanwhile, lefty reliever Jay Marshall still has a shot at becoming the first Rule 5 keeper in Oakland since righty reliever Mike Neu made the team in 2003. Marshall made his team-high 11th appearance of the spring Wednesday against the visiting Angels and pitched a perfect sixth inning to lower his ERA to 2.94.
Marshall was taken from the White Sox organization, and when asked if the A's have discussed a deal that would allow them to keep Marshall in the event he doesn't make the 25-man roster, Forst said, with a sly smile, "It's not something we've explored."
DJ update: First baseman Dan Johnson, scratched from the lineup Tuesday because of a strained left hip flexor, didn't play Wednesday, either, and is listed as day-to-day.
Johnson hurt the hip Monday in a collision at first base that left Colorado's Yorvit Torrealba with a sprained ankle, and the timing of Johnson's injury couldn't be much worse. Only in the past two weeks had Johnson started to separate himself from non-roster invitee Erubiel Durazo in the competition for a starting job.
Game notes: Throwing more fastballs than usual, Opening Day starter Dan Haren gave up a run on six hits and a walk while striking out three over 4 1/3 innings in his sixth final Cactus League appearance. He'd allowed a total of 11 earned runs over 14 innings (7.07 ERA) in his previous three starts, and he had a hard time getting loose before his March 23 effort against the Padres. "I had no trouble getting loose before the game today, and I got looser as the game went on," Haren said. "I'm 100 percent healthy, which is the most important thing." ... Kielty saw his first defensive action of the spring -- he started in right field -- but was never really tested. One ball was hit his way over his five innings, and it was a lazy fly ball that he easily ran down. Kielty went 0-for-2 at the plate and is 3-for-9 in three games. ... Pitching for the second day in a row, closer Huston Street took over for Haren with a runner at second base and one out in the fifth and got a flyout and a strikeout to extend his spring streak of scoreless outings to 10. ... Lefty Lenny DiNardo, a long shot in the competition for that last bullpen opening but expected to open the year at Triple-A Sacramento, struck out all three batters he faced in the seventh inning before giving up an unearned run in the eighth.
Dribblers: The Angels decided not to give the A's a sneak peek at righty John Lackey on Wednesday, sending him to pitch in a Triple-A game instead. Lackey will face Haren and the A's in Anaheim a week from Sunday, but the notion of holding Haren out Wednesday against the Angels was never strongly considered. "It was about a 10-second conversation," Geren said. ... Oakland's final roster decisions will be made after Saturday's game against the Giants at AT&T Park. Opening Day rosters must be submitted Sunday morning. ... Thirty-three players survived the Arizona portion of camp. They'll all be in Sacramento Thursday night, as will up to eight additional players (two infielders, two outfielders, four pitchers) for a game against the Triple-A River Cats. ... Haren, who wants "American Idol" butcher Sanjaya Malakar to win in hopes that the resulting uproar would force a change in the system, said he voted for Malakar, who forgot the lyrics to the song he performed, 50 times Tuesday night.
Up next: No. 2 starter Esteban Loaiza will make his final start of the exhibition season Thursday against the host River Cats at Raley Field. Game time is 6:05 p.m. PT.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less