MESA, Ariz. -- The A's like what they are seeing from pitchers Grant Balfour and Michael Ynoa, both of whom began camp behind schedule.
Balfour, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery just two weeks ago, is seemingly just a couple of days away from throwing off the mound for the first time since his procedure. The A's closer made 35 throws from flat ground without any issues Wednesday and was scheduled Thursday to see his doctor, who will determine when the righty will throw his bullpen.
If Balfour remains on track with his rehab, the veteran reliever may very well be in a game in under two weeks' time.
Ynoa, meanwhile, has thrown two bullpens since his arrival in camp, which was delayed by two weeks while he recovered from the chicken pox.
The Dominican right-hander, signed by the A's at age 16 in 2008 to a then-record $4.25 million bonus, is slated to throw one more bullpen before he makes the transition to live batting practice, putting him closer to game action.
But Ynoa, enjoying his first big league camp following one too many injury-plagued seasons, is already impressing, even without a batter in front of him.
"The ball just screams out of his hand," manager Bob Melvin said. "You can see why the organization invested what they invested in him. It's unfortunate that he's been injured to this point, but just as a first look you can see why. There's a lot of talent there."
Colon makes first outing since suspension
MESA, Ariz. -- Quietly, following the anticipated spring debut of A's Opening Day starter Brett Anderson, right-hander Bartolo Colon made his first Cactus League appearance Thursday.
It marked the first game action -- outside of winter ball in the Dominican -- for Colon since his Aug. 22 drug suspension.
The right-handed veteran pitched two innings against the host Cubs, giving up one earned run (three total) on five hits with four strikeouts.
"He was throwing strikes," manager Bob Melvin said. "Pretty much what we're used to seeing from him."
Colon will go about his spring on the same schedule as the other pitchers, though when the regular season begins he will be required to serve the final five games of his suspension, allowing a teammate -- most likely Dan Straily -- to keep his rotation spot warm.
• A's outfielder Chris Young, who hasn't played in a game since sustaining a right quad cramp Sunday, came out of running drills well Wednesday and was scheduled to do more Thursday morning. The team was then expected to determine his status for Friday's home game against the Giants.
• After being scratched from Wednesday's contest, outfielder Coco Crisp picked up just one at-bat (from the left side) in Thursday's game before departing in favor of a pinch-hitter. The reason? He is dealing with a minor neck issue that bothers him when he bats right-handed.
• Shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima got a hit off Cubs right-hander and friend Kyuji Fujikawa in Thursday's game. Nakajima said through his translator that he faced Fujikawa only a handful of times when the two were still playing in Japan.
The Japanese infielder was also asked about the error he was charged with on a dropped ball while he attempted a handoff from second baseman Scott Sizemore in the fourth inning. Nakajima said he believed Sizemore was going to throw the ball to first rather than attempt a double play, with the runner already closing in on second base, "so it was a little miscommunication."