Starting for the A's when they open a two-game set with the Mets on Tuesday at 710 p.m. ET will be lefty Scott Kazmir, who was selected by the Amazin's in the first round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft and dealt to the Rays in 2004. Kazmir has faced the Mets once in his career, but Tuesday's start will be his first against the Mets in New York.
After bouncing around for several years and playing in an independent league in 2012, Kazmir has been sensational in 2014. He's 9-2 with a 2.08 ERA, .0947 WHIP and 4.00 K/BB ratio.
"Really, I can't say enough about what he's done -- not only his performance, but he's been a clubhouse leader," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said after Kazmir's most recent start. "He's a veteran presence for so many of the younger pitchers. He's been absolutely terrific."
If there's anyone who can slow the Athletics, who have the best record in the Majors, maybe it's a guy who spent the past two seasons playing for them.
Now with the Mets, right-hander Bartolo Colon has surrendered two earned runs or fewer in his last six starts and will look to keep that going when he takes on his former team on Tuesday at Citi Field.
Colon, after several rough starts in early May, has settled in during June. He stymied the Cardinals on Wednesday, allowing just one run on four hits over eight innings in a 3-2 win, and he did it with just one strikeout.
"Bartolo is a workhorse," said outfielder Eric Young Jr. "It's a testament to him, still able to do it at his age."
Although the A's may not be looking forward to facing Colon on the mound, they are eagerly anticipating seeing him at the plate.
"I'm looking forward to watching him hit, not necessarily looking forward to facing him," Melvin said. "I did [see his double recently]. I've seen some of his hacks here before, too.
"We may walk Bartolo intentionally a couple of times just to get him on the basepaths, see him run around a little bit."
Athletics: Rotation shuffle gives Gray extra rest
Sonny Gray hasn't spent a full season in the big leagues, and he leads the A's in innings pitched, with 99. To curb his workload, Oakland pulled him from his planned start on Tuesday; his next turn in the rotation will come on Saturday, in Miami.
Following Kazmir, Brad Mills will start on Wednesday against the Mets; Jesse Chavez, Gray and Tommy Milone are lined up to face the Marlins.
The 24-year-old Gray has struggled a bit lately, posting a 4.94 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in his last five starts.
On the season, though, he is 7-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 15 starts. He made 10 starts in the second half of the 2013 season.
Mets: Lagares could return this week
Outfielder Juan Lagares, 25, is now with Double-A Binghamton as he continues his rehab from a strained right intercostal. He went 0-for-8 in two games with the Gulf Coast League Mets on Friday and Saturday.
Lagares will play for Binghamton on Monday and be re-evaluated in the following days; it's possible he could return to the big league club later this week.
Lagares has been a bright spot this season for a struggling Mets offense, posting a .295/.337/.429 slash line in 42 games. He hasn't played since June 1.
• Dillon Gee is scheduled to make a rehab start with the GCL Mets on Tuesday. He's been on the disabled list since May 14 with a strained lat.
• The A's are 3-0 in Interleague Play this season, having swept the Nationals in Oakland in May. The Mets are 3-4 against the American League, splitting a four-game set with the Yankees and losing two of three to the Angels.
Steven Petrella and Michael Lananna are associate reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.