Melvin wants Straily to improve fastball command

Melvin wants Straily to improve fastball command
May 9, 2014, 5:15 pm
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We feel the best avenue for him is to go down and work on things with less pressure than you get at the big league level. He’s still a guy we expect big things out of.
Bob Melvin on Dan Straily

Programming note: Nationals-A’s coverage starts today at 6:30 p.m. with A’s Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California (Channel locations)

OAKLAND – The A’s made the first major alteration to their starting rotation Friday, optioning Dan Straily to Triple-A Sacramento and inserting left-hander Drew Pomeranz into his starting role.

They also placed reliever Ryan Cook on the disabled list with a strained forearm and recalled relievers Fernando Rodriguez and Joe Savery from Sacramento.

[RELATED: A's option Straily, place Cook on DL, recall Rodriguez and Savery]

It’s no surprise seeing Pomeranz shift from the bullpen to the rotation. He’d impressed as the long reliever and shined in a spot start during Wednesday’s doubleheader, shutting out Seattle for five innings and allowing just two hits.

Straily was 1-2 with a 4.93 ERA in seven starts and his nine home runs allowed were tied for the most in the majors. But more troubling to the A’s were the 15 walks in 38 1/3 innings, and the struggle Straily had getting ahead of hitters.

“We’ve seen him have success here before, and it just hasn’t been as consistent,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Therefore we feel the best avenue for him is to go down and work on things with less pressure than you get at the big league level. He’s still a guy we expect big things out of …

“The velocity has been down a little bit for whatever reason, but that’s not the biggest concern. His concern is getting ahead. He has to be able to get ahead to pitch off of his breaking ball.”

Cook, who left Wednesday’s first game after hurting his forearm, had an MRI that Melvin says showed no major damage and no indication that surgery would be required.

“Everthing would suggest it’s not flexor tendon or ligament (damage),” the manager said. “It’s more just a strain right in the middle of the forearm. Hopefully that’s a good thing, but it’s enough to where we felt like we have to D.L. him.”

[RELATED: Cook getting MRI but optimistic injury is minor]

Center fielder Coco Crisp, who strained his neck while slamming into the outfield wall Wednesday, still had some stiffness Thursday and he was scheduled to get an MRI on Friday. Melvin ruled Crisp out to play Friday night against Washington and considered his leadoff man doubtful for Saturday too. Catcher John Jaso is penciled in at leadoff for Friday’s series opener.

Rodriguez can help fill the void in right-handed relief left by Cook, and it completes Rodriguez’s return from Tommy John surgery that sidelined him for all of last season. He impressed Melvin in spring training but still required more time to build up arm strength. He posted a 0.73 ERA over 11 appearances with Sacramento and didn’t surrender a run over his final eight.

Rodriguez said he never had any doubt that he’d make a full recovery from reconstructive elbow surgery. He hurt his elbow shortly after Oakland acquired him from Houston in a trade along with Jed Lowrie.

“Ever since Bob talked to me last year in spring training, a few days after I got notice (of needing surgery), I said that I’m gonna prove to everybody that I’m here for a reason,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez had yet to pitch in back-to-back games with Sacramento but he said his fastball has consistently been in the 93-95 mph range.

Savery, one of the A’s final cuts in spring training, was 4-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 10 appearances with the River Cats. He’ll give the A’s a third lefty reliever behind Sean Doolittle and Fernando Abad now that Pomeranz has moved to the rotation.