OAKLAND -- A's skipper Bob Melvin has never implemented a six-man starting rotation in his managerial career. But it's something he's experimenting with -- at least for one turn before the All-Star break.
Righty Rich Harden, who has been sidelined with a strained right lat muscle all season after signing a one-year, $1.5 million contract in the offseason, is making his Oakland debut in Friday's series opener with the D-backs, and right-hander Brandon McCarthy (stress reaction in right shoulder) will return from the disabled list on Monday.
That leaves the A's rotation with an unconventional six arms for the time being. For the next week the starters will go: Harden on Friday, Josh Outman on Saturday, Gio Gonzalez on Sunday, McCarthy on Monday, Trevor Cahill on Tuesday and Guillermo Moscoso on Wednesday.
Whether that rotation sticks or not will depend on a few factors, one of those being how well Harden, who will be limited in his pitch count, performs in his first start of the season.
"Certainly the outing is going to be a little shorter, but you look for sharpness right away," Melvin said of Harden. "You look for that in rehab too. He's pitched well in rehab. He's another new guy for me that I've never managed before, so as far as the intricacies of what he does, I need to learn as well as everyone else I have."
"I'm just looking for a look in his eye, and he's always been a guy that likes to compete, and I'm looking forward to watching him compete."
Another factor that will play into Melvin's decision is the performance of Moscoso, who has filled in amply in the A's rotation. With the way Moscoso (2-4, 2.51 ERA) has performed to date, Melvin is in no rush to bump the righty from the rotation.
"He's still got another start, and until that changes he's still on my board a couple times more," Melvin said. "I don't go too much farther out than that."