Wei-Yin Chen said his right knee feels fine after undergoing surgery in October to remove bone spurs. He expects to be ready when the season opens on March 31.
“I was back in Taiwan and I took a rest for three months,” Chen said through his new interpreter. “At this point, I feel like I’m pretty good and I will be able to get into the bullpen when spring training starts. I feel very good.
Chen said the knee actually bothered him two seasons ago.
“Doctors said to take some rest and it’ll be fine, but it didn’t really get better,” he said.
“Now it’s no problem at all.”
Steve Pearce has been hitting for a month and said his wrist is fine. He’s out of minor league options and will try again to win a job as an extra outfielder and right-handed designated hitter.
“I’m ready to go,” he said.
Nolan Reimold said he’s still full-go for the start of spring training. Nothing has changed since the mini-camp last month.
Darren O’Day isn’t considered a candidate to close at this point, but he’d like to do it.
“I just pitch when they tell me to pitch. If they want me to do that, I’ll do that. If they don’t, I’ve kind of got a pretty good role figured out here and an opportunity to do that,” said O’Day, who was 5-3 with a 2.18 ERA in 68 games last season.
“Being a closer is not that hard until you fail. Really, until you fail a couple times. Then, it’s having the fortitude to come back. I did it in college, I did it in the minor leagues, I’ve done it a few times in the big leagues when guys were down. I can do it. It’s just getting three outs in the ninth inning, which is not that much different than getting three outs in the eighth inning, until you screw it up. So, yes, I can do it.
“Being a right-handed match-up guy, a sidearming guy, you’ll see a lot of team pinch-hitting lefties. It doesn’t bother me. I’m still going to get them out. We’ll see what happens. If I need to do it, I have confidence in myself to do it.”
Left-handers hit .309 against O’Day last season, compared to .154 by right-handers.
O’Day talked about losing Jim Johnson, who was traded to the Athletics for second baseman Jemile Weeks.
“He made us a better team on and off the field,” O’Day said. “He was a great teammate. I can’t say enough nice things about him. He was a strong presence in the back of the bullpen. Those are big shoes to fill.
“I think it’s still kind of up in the air right now, who’s going to earn that closer’s role. There are a lot of qualified candidates. We’ll do our best. It’s an opportunity that’s presented itself, and that’s what being a big league pitcher is all about, taking advantage of opportunities.”
“Tommy’s been a great addition to our bullpen,” O’Day said. “I was with him in Texas when he was just a starter, and I was there when he had his first minor league relief outing, throwing 99 mph, and I was like, ‘Where did that come from?’ Tommy was just a thrower back then. Through his time being in the bullpen, I think he’s learned out to pitch. You could see throughout the year last year as the year went on, he was more consistent, he wasn’t walking guys, he was striking guys out. So, Tommy’s figured out how to attack the zone and strike guys out, which is what a good closer needs to do.
“I have all the confidence in Tommy’s mentality. I don’t think you could have a better attitude for a closer. Tommy’s got all the tools to be an exceptional closer.”
When O’Day was told how Hunter seems to have matured, he quipped, “If you met his wife, you’d know why.”
“Tommy’s gone from being a bull in a china shop to having an idea and trying to use his technique,” he added. “Throwing 100 mph, you can usually get away with just blowing people away, but he’s learning how to control it and be a little more tactical with what he has.”