Veteran Barry Zito's comeback attempt finally came full circle for the Oakland Athletics on Sunday, as he pitched the eighth inning of the A's loss to the Houston Astros.
Despite giving up a home run to Colby Rasmus on a poorly located curveball (a 'rule' he said he didn't adhere to properly given the count), Zito told MLB.com's Chandler Rome afterward that he enjoyed the experience: "So I broke that rule. Didn't get away with it today," Zito said. "Had all three pitches working for the most part, felt comfortable with all three, and it was good to go out there. I don't want to give up runs, obviously, but it's good to know it feels good out there. I'm ready to get ready for my next one, whenever that is."
This was Zito's first appearance on an MLB mound since September 29, 2013, and his first in an A's uniform since the end of the 2006 season.
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After spending the entirety of the 2015 season with the A's Triple-A affiliate Nashville Sounds, Zito told Rome he was really enjoying the chance to return to the big-league level, if just for the final few weeks of the season: "Just being in Spring Training with them was awesome," Zito said to Rome. "Obviously, being able to be a part of the team in the regular season is a huge bonus, for sure. I didn't expect it, that's an understatement."
Manager Bob Melvin was complimentary about Zito's first appearance with the A's since his promotion last week: "He's here for a reason, it's not just because he's Barry Zito," Melvin told Rome. "He pitched well this year for us and deserves to be here. But it is nice. You see him in the green and gold, he's made a nice career out of pitching in this organization and everybody's happy about being here mostly because he deserved to be here."
That much-publicized matchup between the A's and Tim Hudson's San Francisco Giants is set for this Saturday, September 26 in Oakland, and it is still within the realm of possibility that both Hudson and Zito will pitch in the game (if Hudson's balky hip complies).
In a fun wrinkle for A's fans, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle recently alluded to another possibility regarding the other third of the A's vaunted 'Big Three' of the early 2000s that could very well happen too:
That'd undoubtedly be a fun way to cap off an otherwise frustrating season for A's fans (and Giants fans, if SF is eliminated from playoff contention by then).