Zito proving he belongs back in bigs, if not with A's

Veteran lefty extends scoreless-innings streak to 11 in spring

Zito proving he belongs back in bigs, if not with A's

MESA, Ariz. -- Though the A's likely won't have the room to carry Barry Zito when the regular season opens, the lefty continues to prove that he belongs on a big league roster somewhere.

All he did in the A's 14-2 win over the Cubs on Tuesday was pitch four more scoreless frames, extending his scoreless streak to 11 innings.

"What are you going to say?" said A's manager Bob Melvin. "He's been terrific. He had a couple innings early on this spring where he gave up some runs, but since then he's been spotless, using all his pitches, spotting all his pitches.

"Curveball's gotten a lot better. Changeup's gotten better. He just continues to get outs and perform."

Zito got up to 65 pitches on Tuesday, allowing the Cubs just one hit with three walks and two strikeouts while lowering his spring ERA to 2.30.

"I felt pretty good," he said. "I don't want to be walking guys like that, but it was a little timing thing, a hiccup here or there."

The veteran lefty, back in the game following a year-long layoff, continued mixing his pitches effectively and inducing weak contact -- which, for him, is "the most important thing," he said.

It's hard to imagine these early stages of this comeback journey going any better for him. Still, it seems the pitching-rich A's would have to lose one or two guys to injury ahead of the regular season before putting Zito on the roster.

Meantime, scouts from other teams are keeping close watch on him.

"For me, I can't get caught up in that whole game," Zito said. "I can essentially just control throwing the ball the way I can when I have the opportunity."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.