February 29, 2016

MESA, Ariz. (AP) Eric Surkamp is getting a chance to make a good impression right away in spring training.

The 28-year-old left-hander who has shuttled between the majors and Triple-A for the past three seasons with three different organizations was named the Oakland Athletics' starting pitcher for the first game of spring training on Thursday. He had one inning of effective work in an intrasquad game on Monday.

Surkamp struck out leadoff batter Billy Burns and retired the side on 10 pitches, throwing mainly fastballs.

''I'll take any opportunity I can get,'' Surkamp said. ''It's definitely nice having it the first game. But whether it was the first or the fifth, whenever, I'm just excited to have the opportunity to compete for a job up here.''

Surkamp was signed to a minor league contract in the offseason. He chose to sign with the A's because he felt it was a good fit with where he is in his career.

''They seem to be an organization that they're going to let the best guy go out there, whoever's pitching the best. If they need somebody, they're going to give that guy an opportunity,'' Surkamp said. ''For guys like myself, that's something you look for. Any opportunity you can get at this point to establish yourself out there, you'll take.''

Manager Bob Melvin said Surkamp showed some movement on his pitches and kept the ball off the barrel of the bat.

''It's nice to ... get a quick inning and feel good about it going into your next outing, which will be during the regular spring training games,'' Melvin said.

NOTES: RHP Henderson Alvarez threw 21 pitches off a bullpen mound Monday morning, the first time he's thrown off a mound since before shoulder surgery last July. Alvarez, an All-Star in 2014 with the Miami Marlins, looked comfortable and worked quickly, saying he felt good as he jogged from the bullpen to his next drill with the other pitchers. ''He's one of those guys you have to hold back,'' Melvin said. ''Got a little bit tired at the end and that's what we want to push him to do.''... Oakland will go with top rookie prospect Sean Manaea as Friday's starter in the spring training home opener against a Colorado Rockies split squad. ... Ace Sonny Gray pitched to hitters in live batting practice for the first time this spring.

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