MINNEAPOLIS -- Major League Baseball on Tuesday announced its plans to begin the 2014 season with two games in Sydney, Australia, giving one member of the A's a chance to offer his unique insight on the growth of the sport Down Under.
Reliever Grant Balfour is one of 48 Australians to have played in the Major Leagues, according to baseball-reference.com, and he said that he's thrilled that his home country will get to see the game played at its highest level for the first time.
"It's awesome -- they've been trying to get baseball down there for a while," Balfour said. "Obviously in Japan it's big and they get some games there in Japan, Puerto Rico and a few other countries that have had it. They love baseball down there. It's not nationally known down there like it is here, but there's a whole group of people who love baseball down there."
Balfour noted that demand for the two-game series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks on March 22-23, 2014, was off the charts.
"The tickets sold out in no time -- they were gone before you knew it," Balfour said.
The A's opened last season with a series in Tokyo, the fourth time MLB had scheduled its Opening Series in Japan. The 1999 season opened in Monterrey, Mexico, and Puerto Rico hosted the Opening Series in 2001.
Now, Australia joins the list with a series that Balfour hopes will provide a boost to a sport that's increased in popularity since he was a rugby fan growing up in Sydney, but still hasn't caught fire the way it has throughout Latin America and the Far East.
"Hopefully it gets the media on a national basis, just seeing that baseball's coming down there, and it'll open up some eyes so people can see that they play baseball down there as well," Balfour said.
"That's the tough part -- my dad's been involved in baseball the whole time down there, for a long time, and the money's not there. It's hard when they don't spend any money in marketing, so they really don't get to market the game as well as they probably should. I just think having this is going to be huge."
Reddick to work in slowly after rejoining A's
MINNEAPOLIS -- A's outfielder Josh Reddick is back in uniform, but that doesn't mean he'll have an immediate impact on the lineup.
Oakland activated Reddick from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday and he joined his teammates at Target Field for the start of a three-game series against the Twins. Reddick was hitting .213 with 10 home runs and 46 RBIs before landing on the DL on Aug. 26 with a sprained right wrist.
Now he's back, but manager Bob Melvin said he'd wait to see how Reddick felt on Wednesday after taking a full round of batting practice before Tuesday night's game.
"He's not an option for me swinging the bat," Melvin said of Reddick's availability on Tuesday. "Potentially, we could use him in the outfield or pinch-running, something like that, but I would stay away from using him at the plate unless something crazy happened."
Reddick was hitting .264 with five homers and nine RBIs over his previous 15 games before going on the DL, but he knows it's not smart to rush back into the lineup and hope to pick up where he left off.
"I don't think it'll be 100 percent until the season comes to an end and we can rest it up," Reddick said. "Right now it's the first day of full batting practice and I'm just looking to see how it feels after that. If there's no pain then it's a good sign, but if I feel anything, I'm going to let somebody know. I'm not going to try to grind through it, especially with the way this team's been playing."
Reddick also spent much of May on the shelf with a sprain of the same wrist, but he said on Tuesday that he thinks he's on track to a similar recovery.
"It's feeling good," Reddick said, "like it did the first time I came off the DL this year."
• Third baseman Josh Donaldson returned to the A's lineup on Tuesday night after missing Sunday's game against the Astros with a strained quad.
"He's good enough to play, so that's good enough for me," manager Bob Melvin said. "I don't make those calls on whether or not he's healthy or not, but he is a guy that's played a little bit dinged up before and I don't think at this time of the year you're 100 percent healthy anyway."
• Right-handed reliever Dan Otero was expected to be away from the A's due to the birth of his child, but Melvin said Otero was going to rejoin the team in Minneapolis on Tuesday as his wife, Tiffany, won't be induced until Thursday. Melvin said he expects Otero to miss Thursday's series finale against the Twins and Friday's opener at Texas.
• Lefty Brett Anderson has picked up three three-inning saves in the past two weeks, but even though it looks like he's being stretched out for a potential start, Melvin said he expects Anderson to remain in the bullpen for the rest of the season.
"He hasn't started in awhile so that plays into it," the skipper said. "The option is open, we could potentially do it, but we do like the way our starters are throwing and he does give us added depth in the bullpen, which you can never have too much of anyway."
Patrick Donnelly is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.