PHOENIX -- Grant Balfour is already ahead of schedule.
Nevermind that the A's closer is less than 24 hours removed from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. The right-hander spent all of Friday morning rehabbing, outside of a quick break to meet with the media for 10 minutes -- without the help of crutches.
Typically patients recovering from this type of surgery need about four or five days before they can fully bend their knee. Balfour can already do that.
"I'm good, I feel great," he said. "It couldn't have gone any better. I'm happy that it's done and that it's fixed and that I'm on the mend. I'm just looking forward to getting back as quick as possible now. I hope to put in the time and be out there for Game 1. That's the plan. I'm not looking at it in any other way."
Balfour hasn't had any swelling, and hopes he can avoid it by not pushing it too hard in the early stages of rehab. He said he doesn't want to predict a specific return date, but did mention that he thinks he can be ready on the early side of the expected 4-6 week recovery plan.
Those around him wouldn't be surprised if that's the case.
"He walked in like he never had surgery," manager Bob Melvin said. "I know he's got a smile on his face because the surgery went well and he's walking around, so hopefully we're looking at the shorter end of the spectrum than the longer end."
Balfour wasn't scheduled to appear in a Cactus League game for another two and a half weeks, so he shouldn't be too far behind other pitchers should his rehab continue to move along seamlessly. In the meantime, he said he'll find a way to keep throwing so as not to lose arm strength.
"I'm not too pretty to watch in Spring Training, anyway," said a smiling Balfour, whose spring numbers are traditionally ugly.
The veteran reliever had no prior knee injuries, and even this one is minor, considering he said he could pitch right now. It's the running and the sharp lateral movements that had been giving him difficulty.
"Luckily for me it was just a little cleanup," he said.
Melvin sees major leadership potential in Reddick
PHOENIX -- Josh Reddick was just one of the many new faces that blended together in the A's clubhouse last spring. This year, it's hard not to notice him -- or, rather, his beard, which is past the two-inch mark.
"We'll see how long it'll go," he said.
Reddick was the latest player to arrive at camp on Friday, one day prior to the official reporting date for all A's position players. He looked to be right at home, as he should, following a breakout 2012 campaign that saw him compile a team-leading 32 home runs and 85 RBIs.
The A's right fielder, who turns 26 next week, stopped setting goals for personal numbers a long time ago. This year is no different, but that doesn't mean Reddick doesn't have other ambitions in mind, particularly with veteran leaders Jonny Gomes and Brandon Inge no longer around.
"If need be, I'll definitely step it up and be a leader," he said. "But I'm not going in with the mindset that I have to be that guy right now. If it is needed, I'll do whatever it takes. Obviously it would be something good for me to learn, but we have plenty guys in here who can teach me the ropes."
Names like Chris Young and Coco Crisp come to his mind. It also helps that he played shadow to one of the best in Gomes last year, soaking in as much as he could from the clubhouse ringleader, who doubled as his locker neighbor.
Reddick doesn't expect to fill the big shoes left by Gomes, but he'll keep them by his locker just in case.
"I think he prides himself in being one of those guys down the road but really knows not to overdo it when you're younger because it sometimes rubs guys a little bit wrong," manager Bob Melvin said. "But he learned from a guy that was very good at it, and I think he definitely has the ability to be a leader."
Melvin naturally has high hopes for the Gold Glove-winning Reddick following the season he produced last year.
"A guy like him who is young like that, had a great season -- you just want to see him try to get better," he said. "As great as his year was, there are some things he can work on to do that. He's one of those guys that's got the total ability, a hard worker. He prepares hard and expects good things to happen and expects to get better, and that's the type of guy you want on your team."
Earlier in the week, before he flew to Arizona, Reddick attended a special ceremony at alma mater South Effingham High School in Guyton, Ga., where his No. 24 was retired -- marking the first time the school had retired a number from any sport.
Now he's ready to get to work donning No. 16.
"One main goal is to win," he said. "That's our focus right now. It starts here."