SACRAMENTO -- Big league success may be on hold for pitcher Dan Straily but he's staying dialed in. Like most Minor Leaguers Straily worked incredibly hard to be a successful Major League-caliber player. It appeared he had finally achieved his dream after going 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in his first three starts with the Oakland A's.For now though, he is stuck in the Minor Leagues. On Monday, Straily was optioned to Triple-A to make room on Oakland's active roster for Brett Anderson. Then on Wednesday, Bartolo Colon got suspended 50-games for violating MLB's performance-enhancing drugs policy. Straily would have been ready to take Colon's spot in the rotation but the A's couldn't call him up because of baseball's 10-day rule. He isn't eligible to return to Oakland until August 31."My agent talked to me about it and said it is one of those rules put in place to protect players," Straily said on Thursday. "Whatever happens it is out of our control."Straily leads all of professional baseball with 191 strikeouts. He started the year in Double-A. The 10-day scenario might be one of the least crazy turns of events in Straily's career after riding a wave of incredible success in 2012. As the obvious choice to return to the A's starting rotation after Colon's suspension, being highly coveted is new to Straily who was told he wasn't good enough to make it early in his collegiate career. "It's a crazy turn of events," Straily said. "You can always use other people's comments to motivate you. It happens to other people and it has been a motivator my whole life." Straily, 23, believes everything happens for a reason. He isn't sweating the details that are currently holding him back. Either way, he says he is happy to be pitching in a playoff run -- whether it be in Oakland with the A's, or Sacramento with the River Cats. No matter where he happens to be he isn't changing his approach on the mound. "I feel like you have to earn the right to belong," he said. "I feel like I've just got to keep working."Straily's most recent start came on Thursday in Sacramento. He only threw five innings and struggled a little with his fastball command. He was pitching on a full week's rest. Struggles aside, he only allowed one run on three hits. He was held to 82 pitches, a telling sign the A's organization believes he has much more important innings ahead of him."Just trying to keep his arm fresh for when the big league team calls," River Cats pitching coach Scott Emerson explained on Thursday after Straily's start. "To go out there and not have his best command and only give up one run to what I consider a pretty good hitting Triple-A team is a testament to him."Last year Straily threw 160 23 innings in the regular season for the Stockton Ports. He has thrown a total of 160 13 innings in 2012. "There's a lot of pitching left to be done," Straily said. "I just go out there whenever I'm handed the baseball and compete until they take it away from me." At this point the young righty is playing with house money. He may keep it simple and not sweat the small stuff off the mound, but his strong work ethic and character are second to none. "He's worked hard to achieve everything he's achieved," River Cats manager Darren Bush says. "It hasn't been something where all of a sudden something happens. It's a tribute to him, the pitching coaches in the organization, the pitching philosophy, he's just like a sponge.""It's one of the things you prepare for your whole professional career -- being in the big leagues," Straily said. "You have to remember that between the lines the game is the same." When the 10 days are up Straily will be ready for the call. He could be recalled even sooner if a player goes on the disabled list. Don't think Straily will be sitting by his phone waiting for it to ring. He'd rather spend time honing his game. "He's been on a wild a ride," Bush said. "He's a good guy, a good person with good character. To see those guys have success you've got to be very happy for them."
MESA, Ariz. — An unexpected opportunity came Daniel Gossett’s way Sunday, and the young right-hander took it in stride.
When the A’s adjusted their starting rotation, Kendall Graveman got bumped to Monday and Gossett learned he’d be taking the ball to start Sunday’s Cactus League home opener against the Los Angeles Angels.
“I’m here for what they need me for,” Gossett said. “So anything they need, gimme the ball.”
He spun two scoreless innings in a game Oakland lost 5-3 at Hohokam Stadium. A nice first impression for Gossett, indeed, but the truth is A’s officials were already quite familiar with him.
A second-round pick out of Clemson in 2014, Gossett impressed at three levels of the farm system in 2016, beginning the year with Single-A Stockton and finishing it with Triple-A Nashville.
This is his first big league camp, and manager Bob Melvin even mentioned Gossett as being part of the fifth starter conversation.
“He impressed everybody in the organization last year, so when talking about that fifth spot, who knows?” Melvin said before the game.
The only blemishes on Gossett’s day were the pair of walks he issued. After walking Jefrey Marte to lead off the second, he got a lift from his catcher, as Josh Phegley fired a strike to second to nail Marte trying to steal.
“A pitcher’s best friend, I guess,” Gossett said. He went 10-6 with a 2.69 ERA across 27 starts at all three levels of the minors last year, and his 151 strikeouts led the A’s farm system. Gossett’s fastball ranges anywhere from 90-95 on the gun. He throws a changeup that gets the most swings and misses, plus a slider and curve.
Grady Fuson, an A’s special assistant to the general manager, liked the adjustments he saw with Gossett over the course of last season.
“He’s a super kid, a grinder,” Fuson said over the winter. “He’s a guy that hadn’t struck many guys out and had been very hittable in the strike zone. (In 2016), he started executing to different parts of the zone that limits the hard contact.”
CAMP BATTLE: Alejandro De Aza sparked the A’s first rally in the third Sunday with a triple, then scored on Mark Canha’s double. With Jake Smolinski sidelined currently by a shoulder issue, it’s a good time for De Aza, a non-roster invitee to camp, to make his mark. The door could be open for him to make a push to make the roster as a fifth outfielder.
“He’s an interesting guy,” Melvin said of the nine-year veteran. “He knows how to play the game, he can play all three outfield spots. We’ve seen him before when he’s given us trouble, too, with the White Sox.”
Another contender for a reserve outfield spot is Jaycob Brugman, who has yet to crack the majors but is already on the 40-man roster. He singled home a run in the seventh. Like De Aza and Smolinski, Brugman can play center field, and it stands to reason the A’s will want to carry someone who can back up Rajai Davis at that position.
NOTEWORTHY: Phegley admitted to some butterflies before getting behind the plate for his first game since July, when a right knee injury wiped out the rest of his season.
But he looked good springing up to nail Marte on the second-inning steal attempt. The A’s are counting on Phegley returning to his role as the right-handed hitting platoon partner with Stephen Vogt behind the plate.
STOCK RISING: Melvin was impressed, and entertained, by the first look he got at reliever Simon Castro on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. Castro retired Kris Bryant to strand a runner at third, the only hitter he faced. But it was what happened before the at-bat that caught Melvin’s attention.
“When he came to the mound he was pretty vocal,” Melvin noted. “He was fired up, telling the guys ‘Let’s go!’ I haven’t heard that too many times out of pitchers, let alone in spring training. So he impressed me with his eagerness to pitch.”
FAMILIAR FACES: Campy Campaneris and Blue Moon Odom each threw out ceremonial first pitches before Sunday’s exhibition home opener, which drew a smallish crowd of 4,072.
Update: Axford finished the night correctly predicting 19 of 24 Oscars this year.
A's reliever John Axford is not your casual movie fan.
Axford majored in Film at Notre Dame and has a proven track record when it comes to the biggest night for movies.
The last two years, Axford correctly predicted 17 of 24 winners for the Academy Awards. In 2014, Axford went a perfect 18-of-18 with his predictions.
On Saturday, Axford offered 24 predictions for the 2017 Oscars.
Axford is a clear believer in La La Land, choosing the film for eights Oscars, after winning a record-breaking seven Golden Globes.
Will he go a perfect 24-for-24 this year?
My 2017 Oscar picks! pic.twitter.com/TanlzxJ6jw— John Axford (@JohnAxford) February 25, 2017