Would some part of me love it if Barry Zito made an appearance on Sept. 26 as a sort of fan service to the A's (and yes, the Giants) when Tim Hudson is scheduled to pitch the penultimate game of his career? Yes, of course. So does Hudson, the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman, and scores of A's and Giants fans intrigued by Zito's story this year.
But if Zito was going to pitch for the A's this month, he would have been called up last Tuesday, when the minor league season ended. Instead, Zito has already been told he is not going to be added to the Athletics roster, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
And perhaps that's for the best. I can think of little worse fate for Barry Zito's legacy than to end this season as a sideshow of two fan bases trying to derive some meaning out of their lost seasons. The whole deal that allowed Zito to join the A's in spring training and then pitch in Triple-A was to see if Zito had a legitimate shot at returning to a big-league rotation. He told the San Francisco Chronicle last February, when he signed, "I'll let my pitching speak for itself -- or not speak for itself. Talk is cheap. We'll see what happens when it happens."
Twenty-nine other teams watched Barry Zito all summer and could have picked him up to play. By all accounts, the A's would have allowed him to leave if a major league rotation opportunity arose elsewhere. None did.
Zito's fate this season was sealed when left-hander Felix Doubront and his team control through 2017 became available on waivers. The A's snatched up Doubront initially to pitch in long relief, and then to start after a short time. Meanwhile, Zito's shoulder put him on the disabled list after August 5, where he remained until the penultimate game of the Nashville Sounds season on September 6 and tossed just one inning.
It is not impossible for Zito to be called up without affecting a younger player's career and pitch in relief. Evan Scribner or Kendall Graveman could be transferred to the 60-day disabled list to open up a spot on the 40-man roster.
But somehow I think Zito has the answers he needs about how his career has shaped up and might continue. Says Slusser, "Zito is going to complete his throwing program, though, to give himself the option to keep playing if he should decide he want to. He is pointing himself toward a career in songwriting after making numerous contacts in the Nashville music world."
Barry Zito is preparing himself for the future and not dwelling on his past. Fans of the A's (and Giants) would do well to do the same.