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No. 5 Starter Watch: Athletics still thinking

Count the A's among those teams that just have too many starting pitchers with a claim on the rotation. Or maybe not; we'll check back in a few months. Anyway, the Athletics are back in the chilly Bay Area, and yet the battle for the No. 5 slot still rages. Chace Bryson:

    As the battle for the final spot in the A's starting rotation goes down to its last day, Gio Gonzalez will get the first shot to impress. The A's announced Friday that the left-hander will start today's exhibition against the Giants at Oakland Coliseum.

    But don't think Gonzalez is reading anything into the starting nod.

    "Not at all," he said. "This organization is very quiet with their stuff. They just want to see the talent and get the best out of everybody with great competition."

    The competition hasn't disappointed, either.

    Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, who is also scheduled to pitch today, have each put up solid numbers over the spring. Gonzalez (1-1) has posted a 2.79 ERA over 191/3 innings while striking out 18 and walking 10. Cahill (1-1) has a 4.08 ERA with 14 strikeouts and just four walks over 17-2/3 innings.

Tough choice, as neither of them have been close to acceptable as major leaguers.

Cahill's HR/9 last season was higher than his strikeout-to-walk ratio, which is 1) really hard to do, and 2) even if you could do it, you really wouldn't want to.

Gonzalez showed the big arm he's always had, but also walked five hitters per nine innings. Which, again, is really not good.

I'd be inclined to give the job to Cahill, if only because a) he struck out a lot more hitters in Triple-A (though, granted, he walked a lot more, too), and b) Gonzalez obviously needs to fix one thing, and his performance this spring doesn't suggest that he's fixed it.

This is one of those spring-training "battles" that will probably be forgotten within a month or two. Given the injury histories of Dallas Braden, Ben Sheets, and Justin Duchscherer -- plus the youth of Brett Anderson and whoever gets the No. 5 spot next week -- there should be plenty of work to go around. Last year, 10 different Athletics started more than five games. (What? You've already forgotten Clayton Mortensen?)