TEMPE, Ariz. -- Barry Zito "absolutely" believes he can help a big league rotation.
"Based on what I saw," said A's manager Bob Melvin, "he can."
But whether he gets that opportunity remains to be seen.
The comeback hopeful, in big league camp with the A's on a Minor League deal, closed out his stay in the desert with a rough outing against the Angels on Tuesday, allowing seven runs on eight hits -- including three home runs in the third -- with one walk and two strikeouts to halt a 13-inning scoreless streak.
His timing proved slightly off, and his curveball wasn't as consistent as it's been.
"It's just a bad note to end it on, because I felt pretty good throwing the ball all spring," he said.
"It's been terrific," said Melvin. "Really, that's the only inning we saw guys put multiple good swings against him. You do have to look at the entire body of work, not just one inning."
Now Zito waits. The 36-year-old could opt out of his deal for a big league chance elsewhere or potentially accept a Minor League assignment with the A's, whose Opening Day rotation is full.
In regards to the latter scenario, Zito said, "I know that it's out there for a guy in my position, but I haven't really wrapped my head around what all the possibilities are at this point.
"Obviously I can paint pictures in my head of what could happen, but that's where this game can take you out of the present moment," he said. "So for me, just came back, business as usual tomorrow, and wait until I hear something obviously. Keep my head down, keep working."
In six weeks' time, Zito has effectively transitioned back to a three-pitch arsenal, ditching the cutter and keeping his focus on a fastball-curveball-changeup combo. The curveball has sharpened with each outing, outside of Tuesday's game, and his velocity has consistently been in the high 80s. The changeup, too, has seen better life with time.
"Things have been fairly consistent day to day, from bullpen to bullpen and into games," said Zito. "It's a shame it ended on this note, but I'm happy where I'm at right now."
Melvin said he would have no reservations using the southpaw out of the bullpen in Saturday's exhibition with the Giants at the Coliseum, where Zito pitched for the first seven years of his career. The thought excites him.
"Being on that mound in the green and gold would be really cool," said Zito.
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.