PHOENIX -- A's closer Grant Balfour threw 25 pitches off a mound Friday morning, his first time on the hill since his Feb. 14 surgery to remove a bit of meniscus from his right knee.

The right-hander said there was a little residual soreness in the knee but said things went about as well as he could hope. He now has a full month to get himself ready to be the Oakland ninth-inning guy come the opener against Seattle on April 1.

"The area where they cut, it hasn't quite healed up," Balfour said, rolling up his pant leg to show off the scar left from the path of the arthroscope. "There's a little swelling. But basically it's all good."

Normally, Balfour would start out throwing a diet of mostly fastballs. But given the truncated time available to him, he threw a smorgasbord of all his pitches.

"I think there's enough time to get to (where he needs to be on) opening day," he said. "But all I really know is that I've got an easy day (Saturday), and then we'll see where we are after that."

For Balfour, who was cleared to take the mound by the A's medics on Thursday, his rehab is all about the knee. He never stopped throwing and working on his shoulder to make sure he didn't get too rusty, so his arm hasn't atrophied.

  • Friday saw the A's go to a bunch of pitchers they'd been holding out of action, including starter Jarrod Parker and relievers Jerry Blevins, Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Garrett Olson.

    "This is kind of the start of the spring for a lot of guys," manager Bob Melvin said. He and pitching coach Curt Young took a look at all the innings logged by A's pitchers in the second half of the season and in the playoffs and decided to hold a total of nine pitchers back at some level.

    Asked if the holdouts had been going stir crazy, Melvin demurred.

    "I don't think so," he said. "They knew in the offseason this was the plan. And it's only March 1."

    Parker was clearly in his comfort zone, letting just one man reach base in two innings. Blevins was hit hard (three runs, two earned in two-thirds of an inning), and Cook and Doolittle both threw scoreless innings in the A's 13-9 loss to the Giants.

    After needing only 22 of his allotted 35 pitches to get two innings in, Parker asked for a third inning but was summarily denied.

    "I begged for it," Parker said of getting a third inning. "Maybe in July I'll be good for an eighth or ninth inning."

    Parker had the option, as all spring pitchers do, to get in extra throws in the bullpen, but he opted against that.

    Olson wasn't among the pitchers being held back by 2012 overwork and pressure games. Instead, his hopes to make the roster as an invited player had been hobbled by a mild hamstring injury. And while he gave up a couple runs -- and Andy Parrino saved him from worse with an unassisted double play at third base -- at least he was able to get on the mound.

    "There's always some trepidation for a pitcher getting out there with a leg issue," Melvin said, dismissing the importance of the stats Olson put up (four hits, two runs) in his first inning back.

  • Chris Young, who had been held out of four consecutive games because of a mild quad injury, was back on Friday and in center field. He singled in his first two at-bats. "Young ran fine," Melvin said.

  • Starting catcher Derek Norris came out of the game after just one at-bat, replaced by John Jaso. Melvin said he wanted each of three catchers to be behind the plate for three innings. He wanted Norris to work with Parker and Jaso to work with some of the relievers.

  • It was one miserable outing for Travis Blackley, who faced eight batters and allowed seven to score while getting just one out. "That was a lot of runs in not a lot of time," Melvin said.

  • Michael Choice had two more hits and is now hitting .583 for the spring, Melvin calling that one of the good things that came out of the game for Oakland.

  • The A's are now 2-5 a week into Cactus League games with a home game against the Angels due up Saturday. Tommy Milone is the last member of the expected starting rotation to get his turn when he pitches against the Angels.

  • Outfielder/first baseman Michael Taylor and batting coach Chili Davis stayed behind Thursday when the team went to Mesa to play the Cubs. The two worked while the rest of the team played and, according to Melvin "found some things" that might help Taylor in his bid to ultimately catch on with Oakland. He got a couple late-inning at-bats and singled.