Outlook: Colon should be mid-rotation starter for A's

OAKLAND -- The A's have opted to bring back right-hander Bartolo Colon as soon as they can, electing to start the veteran on the first day he's eligible to return from his 50-game performance-enhancing drug suspension.

That's Saturday in Houston, where the A's will be in the middle of a three-game set with their new division foes.

"You want to get him started sooner than later," manager Bob Melvin said. "We would've had to find another place for him to go pitch, and we just want to get him in there. We had targeted this all along."

It will mark Colon's first start in the Majors since Aug. 18. It was four days later when he was slapped with the 50-game ban after testing positive for testosterone, leaving the A's to continue their surprise run into the postseason without him.

Colon was enjoying a resurgent year with the A's, having gathered 10 wins and a 3.43 ERA up to that point. The club is hopeful that he's just as effective post-suspension in an otherwise young rotation that features Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin -- all 26 years old or younger. Colon will be 40 in May.

Once Colon is officially back on the 25-man roster, right-hander Dan Straily -- scheduled to start Friday -- is expected to be optioned to Triple-A Sacramento. Anderson will follow him in the rotation on Sunday and, with an off-day on Monday, the A's are able to give Parker, Milone and Griffin two extra days of rest.

"We think that's the right thing to do based on their workloads last year," Melvin said. "As long as no one's really struggling that we need to skip, I think that will be our theme all year, to give these guys an extra day when we can."

Young to make first start for A's on Wednesday

CWS@OAK: Young slides to make a nice catch in center

OAKLAND -- A's manager Bob Melvin was well aware just how rare it was for him to be writing out the same lineup on consecutive days Tuesday.

"My pen was shaking today," he joked.

Melvin utilized identical lineups on back-to-back days just three times last season, and now he's already done it once just two days into the season, having posted the same batting order in the first two games against Seattle.

Game 3, however, will have a different flavor, with Chris Young expected to make his first start with the A's. Second baseman Scott Sizemore, catcher Derek Norris and first baseman Nate Freiman, who bat from the right side like Young, are expected to join him in the lineup against Mariners lefty Joe Saunders.

"You want them to get involved, don't want them sitting around too long," Melvin said. "Guys are used to playing every day coming out of spring. Especially for the role guys, guys that aren't starting all the time, whether it's just against righties or just against lefties, they need to get in there soon after spring's done."

Monday marked the first time since 2006 Young did not appear in an Opening Day starting lineup. He called it "weird, definitely different," but is on board with whatever plan Melvin has for him.

"I'm still kind of getting a feel for what my role here is," Young said Tuesday. "I can't even say for sure what that is. In Spring Training, I felt like there were four outfielders pretty much, and we were all rotating through, but now I'm not really sure how it's going to go.

"But Melvin and I talk a lot. He's really good about communicating with me and letting me know if I'm going to be in the lineup. This has definitely been a challenge, but I'm trying to make the best out of it, stay locked in."

Melvin remained mum on where Young would play Wednesday. Young wasn't even sure where that might be, but was simply happy knowing it wouldn't be near the bench.

"Normally the only time I'd be sitting on the bench is if I'm injured," Young said, "but it's a new year, so it's just about making the necessary adjustments and doing whatever I can to help this team."

Nakajima, Rosales on comeback trail

OAK@SF: Rosales' two-run homer extends the A's lead

OAKLAND -- The sight of infielders Hiro Nakajima and Adam Rosales doing work on the field Tuesday signaled progress in their respective rehabs.

Nakajima, though, lasted not much more than 10 minutes before returning to the clubhouse, while Rosales got some light throwing and running in, which would seem to indicate that his strained intercostal muscle might not keep him out much longer than his 15-day disabled list stint requires.

"I don't know yet," Melvin said. "Those injuries are really tough to predict until [Rosales] really starts swinging."

Rosales is eligible to return as soon as April 10. Nakajima can be reinstated the next day, though the A's likely won't rush his return as long as shortstop Jed Lowrie remains healthy.

"The first step is to get him on the field and get him moving around," Melvin said, "and then we'll have a better indication of how he's feeling."

The A's leave Oakland on Thursday evening for a six-game road swing through Houston and Anaheim, and it's unclear whether Nakajima will join them on the trip. There's a good chance he remains in the Bay Area to continue his rehab and prepare for a stint with one of the A's nearby Minor League affiliates.

"It depends on how close we think he is," Melvin said. "If we feel like he's close enough to where we want to watch him doing game activities, then we'll take him on the road."

Worth noting

• A's reliever Fernando Rodriguez, who underwent Tommy John surgery last week, will remain with the team in the Bay Area throughout the season as he begins what's expected to be a year-long rehab process.

Though limited in activity at the ballpark right now, the right-handed Rodriguez is keeping busy at home in nearby Walnut Creek thanks to his four-month-old son. "That really helps," he said.