WSH@MIA: Abad fans LoMo to escape bases-loaded threat

PHOENIX -- Fernando Abad has given up runs in back-to-back appearances and in three of his six outings this spring, but he might already have secured a spot in the A's bullpen as the second left-hander behind Sean Doolittle.

Manager Bob Melvin has really liked what he's seen from Abad, who was acquired in a trade with the Nationals in November.

"He's been throwing 95 [mph] with a wipeout breaking ball," Melvin said. "When he's gotten in trouble a little bit is when he's tried to throw some changeups and establish that third pitch."

That third pitch likely won't be necessary in any big league role Abad would fill.

"But it's always good to work on things," Melvin said.

Abad is out of options, but Drew Pomeranz and Joe Savery still are in contention as second bullpen lefties. Pomeranz, acquired in the offseason trade that sent Brett Anderson to the Rockies, has been a starter nearly all of his short career, but he appears headed toward a relief role in the A's organization.

"We're going to shorten him up and look at him in shorter stints," Melvin said, "look at him against left-handers."

Cook progressing, set to throw bullpen session

Outlook: Solid Cook unlikely to see many save chances

PHOENIX -- Ryan Cook is progressing, but he's still uncertain for Opening Day.

Cook, who showed up to A's camp with shoulder inflammation, came out healthy from a bullpen session on Tuesday and will throw another on Thursday afternoon. Should that go well, the reliever will need to throw live batting practice, perhaps more than once, before he can pitch in a game.

With less than three weeks left in Spring Training, Cook's chances of being ready for the opener are dwindling, but manager Bob Melvin has not ruled out anything.

"Whether or not he'll be ready for the season is still undecided at this point," Melvin said on Wednesday morning before his club's 3-1 loss to the Royals. "I'm not sure how many of those [games] he'll need at this point. Certain guys, we've targeted relievers for eight games, other guys six games. So somewhere around there."

If the right-handed Cook isn't ready, he'll start the season on the disabled list. The depth the A's added to their bullpen during the offseason doesn't necessitate a quick return for Cook, who when healthy figures to be a key setup man to new closer Jim Johnson.

"Regardless, we don't want to rush it," Melvin said. "It's going to be more about how he responds each and every time."

Cook posted a 2.54 ERA in 71 games last season, after logging a 2.09 ERA and 14 saves in 71 games in 2012.

Norris returns to lineup in loss to Kansas City

LAD@OAK: Norris rips a two-run single to center field

PHOENIX -- A's catcher Derek Norris returned to the lineup on Wednesday for the first time since March 4.

"Which means he's off the injured list," Melvin joked.

Norris, who had been out with back spasms, played without restriction -- going 1-for-2 with a stolen base in a 3-1 loss to the Royals. He was lifted for defensive replacement Stephen Vogt in the seventh inning.

Worth noting

• Former A's prospect Brett Wallace was released by the Astros on Wednesday. Wallace was part of Oakland's haul in the trade that sent Matt Holliday to the Cardinals in 2009. The A's traded Wallace to Toronto for Michael Taylor later that year and the Blue Jays traded him to Houston in 2010.

• Outfielder Craig Gentry, who is dealing with a lower back strain, took 50 swings off the tee on Tuesday and participated in the team's on-field workout Wednesday morning. There is no timetable for his return to game action.