Melvin: McCarthy favorite for nod in Opener

Melvin: McCarthy favorite for nod in Opener

OAKLAND -- Plenty of questions face the A's pitching staff, which is set to report to camp in less than three weeks.

Who will fill the back end of the rotation? Who will assume the closer's role?

Time will only tell, but Bob Melvin didn't necessarily need much of it to make another decision. Though nothing is set in stone, the A's manager hinted at FanFest on Sunday that Brandon McCarthy will start the club's Opening Series contest against the Mariners on March 28 in Japan, with fellow righty Bartolo Colon to follow in the second game.

Left-hander Dallas Braden, expected to return by mid-April, will ultimately join that crew. And, beyond that, "all of the other guys have the opportunity." Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock, Tom Milone, Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey are among those vying for a chance.

McCarthy, coincidentally, was among the fifth-starter mix just last year. Now, following an offseason that brought about the trades of All-Stars Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, he's standing at the front of the line.

"It would be a lot of fun," McCarthy said of potentially starting Opening Day. "I think it's one of those notches any guy wants to have at some point. It's certainly something you'd love to be able to do on a yearly basis -- where you're a lockdown guy and everyone refers to you as that, so that's an ultimate career goal. But to be able to do it would be great. And if I earn that honor, I'd be thrilled to have it."

McCarthy went 9-9 with a 3.32 ERA in 25 starts last year, compiling 123 strikeouts in 170 2/3 innings.

"If there's one mainstay in that rotation, right now, it's going to be [McCarthy]," Braden said. "The way he pitched in the second half of last year, he was near unhittable, in my opinion."