My mom is a superwoman. And has always been a force of perspective in our lives. / by Saarloosandsons

Saarloos buoyed by mom's news
Susan Slusser
Saturday, March 26, 2005


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(03-26) 04:00 PDT Phoenix -- Kirk Saarloos is starting against the Angels today, and he will be pitching with a glad heart. His mother, Linda, was released from a Santa Barbara hospital Friday after a double mastectomy the previous day, and her prognosis is excellent.

Saarloos said that the surgery lasted five hours, and no cancer was found in his mother's lymph nodes.

"It's real good news,'' he said. "There might be a chance she won't have to have chemotherapy. ... This gives me a little bounce in my step whatever I'm doing.''

Linda Saarloos beat colon cancer about 15 years ago, Kirk said, so when she first told him about the breast cancer diagnosis two weeks ago, he was confident she would come through this ordeal well.

"She's a stud, she's superwoman,'' he said.

He's still been worried, of course, thinking about her all the time except when he's on the mound. Her health has made him consider the race for the fifth-starter spot in a different light, though.

"You get that news and you think, 'There's so much more to life than trying to battle for a spot in the rotation,' " Saarloos said. "But don't get me wrong, I definitely want it.''

Saarloos, who is 1-0 with a 6.43 ERA, will throw about 80 pitches today, and another contender for the job, Seth Etherton (0-1, 4.50), will go after that and probably finish the game. Keiichi Yabu (0-2, 6.75), still another hopeful, will start a "B'' game against the Giants at 9:30 a.m. at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

"I'll go to sleep early,'' Yabu promised with a smile, adding that he'll be drinking plenty of coffee and green tea at that early hour.

Zito's night: Barry Zito allowed five hits, five walks and five runs (four earned) in four innings in a 6-1 loss to the Padres on Friday night.

"I was just too excited out there,'' Zito said. "Night game, it feels crispier, kind of cool. I was rushing my delivery. ... The extra six hours (before game time) kind of feels different, muscles have had blood pumping through them longer. I felt too good.''

Told this response from his starting pitcher, manager Ken Macha said, "It's a full moon, too.''

Zito was reasonably happy with his stuff, saying his curveball was up too much early but it had good bite. Macha said Zito threw eight curves, only one for a strike. He threw 88 pitches in all.

Briefly: With Opening Day starter Zito on the mound, the A's had what looked like a potential Opening Day lineup on the field. Keith Ginter was at second base, which could be the case quite a lot when Zito is on the mound this season, because Zito is a flyball pitcher. Mark Ellis, an outstanding defensive second basemen, could get the bulk of the starts, however. ... The A's made two errors behind Zito and three in all. ... Bobby Crosby was back at shortstop after being scratched with bruised ribs the day before. Crosby was hit in the back in a game against Texas at Surprise, Ariz., on Monday, but X- rays were negative. ... Nick Swisher made two fine catches of low liners in right and also tripled (complete with plunging head-first slide) and scored a run. ... Juan Cruz threw three scoreless innings but walked three.