Zito's next Cactus League outing expected to come in relief

Zito's next Cactus League outing expected to come in relief

MESA, Ariz. -- Barry Zito's next Cactus League outing is expected to come in relief, but don't read too much into that.

In order for the A's to keep Zito on the same schedule as other starters, they've opted to have him next pitch Tuesday, the same day Sonny Gray is set to make his first spring start. So look for Zito to piggyback Gray and increase his workload from two innings to three.

"I'm not saying he won't get another start, but we're just trying to keep him on a good schedule, and we felt like that was the best day for him to pitch," A's manager Bob Melvin said Friday. "That doesn't preclude him from getting another start after that. We just don't know yet."

Zito impressed in his Cactus League debut Thursday against the Cubs, despite surrendering a two-run homer to Mike Olt. Pitching in a game for the first time since 2013, the lefty retired each of his first five batters and showcased good life on his fastball while also offering the same sweeping curveball with which he's so long been identified. As for the changeup, which Olt smashed to left-center field, Zito hopes to have a better feel for it the next time out.

The 36-year-old veteran plans to stick with this three-pitch repertoire -- the same one that helped make him one of the most successful pitchers in the game in the early 2000s -- and keep the cutter on the sidelines for now.

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.