PHOENIX -- Multiple clubs have multiple players participating in this year's World Baseball Classic. Not the A's.
Oakland anticipated lefty reliever Pedro Figueroa being its lone representative in the Classic, but the pitcher's agent recently informed the club that Figueroa has decided it's in his best interest not to join Team Dominican Republic this spring but, rather, stay with the A's, leaving them with zero participants.
The 27-year-old Figueroa, who posted a 3.32 ERA in 19 appearances as a rookie last season, can now keep his focus within the confines of camp, where he's one of several relievers competing for just a couple of bullpen spots. Having more time to pitch in front of the A's ensures he will get every opportunity to earn one.
The news certainly serves as some relief to the team, allowing every player to remain on the same page.
"I don't think anybody would tell you it's not [a relief]," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "If guys really want to do it, we're all for it. We understand that you don't get to do this that often, and if you get an invite to do something like that we certainly support them. But at this point we don't have anybody, and that's fine by us."
A's closer Grant Balfour strongly considered joining the Australian team for the Classic but ultimately chose to remain with the A's and get his arm ready for the regular season, keeping in mind he'll be a free agent by year's end.
"I have to take care of myself," Balfour said.
"Not to be selfish, but you know exactly what they're doing every single day if they remain here," pitching coach Curt Young said. "It's a great opportunity, and these guys usually have the choice, and deciding not to play for their country is tough, but it's a situation where they're getting themselves ready for our season."
Carignan on the rebound from arm issues
PHOENIX -- Two Tommy John patients stood less than 20 feet apart at A's camp on Tuesday, their body of work proving that the operation does indeed do wonders.
There was lefty Brett Anderson, finally looking forward to a full season after missing most of 2012 while rehabbing, letting loose with ease. Then there was right-hander Andrew Carignan, eight months removed from the surgery, making just his third side session since that time.
Carignan threw 25 pitches and is on track to repeat these sessions twice a week for about five more weeks, as he prepares for a June return.
"He's basically on the same page that Brett was on last year, but as a reliever," pitching coach Curt Young said. "Hopefully we can get him back by late June, somewhere in there, but his rehab is going great."
The 26-year-old Carignan, who carried a 4.66 ERA through 11 games before his season ended in June last year, is no stranger to rehab, giving him better perspective than most on the process.
Taken by the A's in the fifth round in the 2007 Draft, Carignan produced fantastic numbers in his first two seasons of pro ball, but a right elbow injury wiped out all but two games of his 2009 season. Surgery on the elbow, along with a stress fracture in his foot, forced him to miss the start of the 2010 season. Then came a pair of oblique injuries and, finally, more elbow issues in '12.
He made the decision not to return to his home in Connecticut this offseason, as he normally does, but to remain in Arizona to ensure a smooth recovery under the watch of Oakland's training staff.
"I've already been through a lot," Carignan said, "so I'm just kind of taking all this in stride, knowing I can't ever get too hopeful about anything, but just stay the course and hope things keep progressing well."