Arnold Leon completes long journey to the A's

Arnold Leon completes long journey to the A's
May 6, 2014, 6:30 pm
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Two years rehabbing, it was tough. I think everything I went through, all the discipline, the hard work, is reflecting right now being here in the big leagues.
Arnold Leon

Programming note: Watch the entire doubleheader between the Mariners and A’s today on Comcast SportsNet California with A’s Pregame Live starting at 12 p.m. and A’s Postgame Live following each game (Channel Locations)

UPDATE (9 a.m.) -- The A's officially recalled right-handed pitcher Arnold Leon from Triple-A, the team announced on Wednesday morning.

Leon, 25, is set to make his major league debut after going 2-1 with a 4.34 ERA in six starts at Triple-A Sacramento.  

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OAKLAND -- Arnold Leon had been to the Coliseum twice as a fan, but Tuesday’s experience was a little different.

The right-hander joined the A’s from Triple-A Sacramento and will be added to the roster for Wednesday’s doubleheader as the 26th player Oakland will be granted for the twin bill. Manager Bob Melvin will wait to see how Tuesday night’s game against Seattle plays out before deciding whether Leon or left-hander Drew Pomeranz will start the second game Wednesday. If Pomeranz is needed in relief Tuesday, it would seem to point toward Leon starting Wednesday.

[RELATED: A's still undecided on Wednesday's second starter]

Melvin said he probably won’t announce until Wednesday morning who will start the second game. Dan Straily will take the mound in the 12:35 p.m. opener, with the second game to follow 30 minutes after. The 26th player can be used for either game but not both.

If Leon doesn’t start, he’ll be available in relief – and quite eager to potentially make his major league debut.

“It’s gonna be a surprise tomorrow,” said Leon, 25. “I’m not preparing mentally to get a start or relieve. I’m prepared for anything. It doesn’t matter.”

[Rewind: A's losses in Boston highlight major rotation issues]

Leon sat in the stands on a team trip to the Coliseum while he was with Single-A Stockton a few years ago. He returned in 2012 with a teammate to watch lefty Pedro Figueroa, who was then in the A’s bullpen.

But wearing an Oakland A’s uniform completes quite a journey for Leon, who made his professional debut in 2006 at age 17 for Saltillo of the Mexican League. The A’s purchased the rights to his contract in November 2007, and he began pitching with Stockton in 2008. He underwent Tommy John surgery that sidelined him for nearly all of the 2010 and 2011 seasons. But he’s developed nicely since then.

He didn’t become a full-time starter until last season, when he went 9-8 with a 4.13 ERA split between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. This season he is 2-1 with a 4.34 ERA in six starts with Sacramento, with 22 strikeouts and 10 walks in 29 innings.

Leon gained some unwanted attention in March 2013 while pitching for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. In a game against Canada that featured building tensions throughout the contest, Leon hit a Canadian batter and touched off a wild brawl.

But he has impressed the A’s front office not only with his resiliency in coming back from surgery, but his development on the mound.

“We've seen his progression the last two springs,” Melvin said. “He really seemed like, this spring, he looked like he belonged. He was more confident throwing to big league hitters. I told him that at the end of spring and I said, ‘You've put yourself in position to be a viable option for us this year,’ and here he is and it’s well deserved.”

Leon’s parents, Xico and Maricela, are making the trip from his hometown of Culiacan, Mexico for the doubleheader. Leon’s wife, Cynthia, and son, Nayar Alexander, will be at the Coliseum too.

“It’s been tough. Two years rehabbing, it was tough,” Leon said. “I think everything I went through, all the discipline, the hard work, is reflecting right now being here in the big leagues.”

NOTES: Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, who has been hampered by a strained left hamstring, is back in the lineup Tuesday. Right fielder Josh Reddick, nursing a sprained left ankle, remains out but Melvin said Reddick has improved greatly and is an option off the bench.

 

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