PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Bartolo Colon wasn't having the best spring. He had to face the media for the first time following his 50-game suspension and had a 7.36 ERA in his first four games.
On Monday against the Brewers, the veteran pitcher got off to a strong start. He only allowed one hit in the first three innings, but ran into trouble in the fourth frame when he gave up four consecutive hits and allowed three runs. He bounced back by pitching a scoreless fifth inning.
"He threw all of his pitches," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He was actually working on some off-speed stuff. There was probably a check swing on a ball that probably effects that one inning where he ended up giving up a couple of runs. He threw the ball well."
Colon has been tagged for 30 hits in 16 innings this spring. At 39, Colon hasn't been missing many bats, but he's only issued one free pass all spring. This will be Colon's 16th season in the big leagues. He knows what it takes to get ready.
According to the A's, Colon's velocity has been in the low 90s just like last season. If he can keep his fastball velocity where he needs it, he should be fine. Last season Colon threw his fastball 89.2 percent of the time, and the pitch averaged 90.2 MPH.
Up-and-comer Dan Straily will be keeping Colon's spot warm through the first turn of the rotation. There are five games left until Colon is eligible to return. Straily entered the game in the sixth inning and allowed four runs on eight hits in three innings.
"He got off to a decent start and then he had some base runners out there and couldn't stop the bleeding," Melvin said. "We would have loved to see him finish the game but at that point it just didn't look like it was going to happen."
Straily threw 64 pitches and then threw in the bullpen after the game. He didn't pinpoint one particular type of pitch as problematic.
"Now we're just pitching and the fact is I just didn't get them out," Straily said. "You go back to work and just get better from here."
Pitchers are creatures of habit, but the young righty refused to blame the fact that he entered in the middle of the game for his struggles on Monday. He admitted that the routine is different, but says it's all the same once on the mound.
Straily is stuck in an odd situation. He is one of most talented arms in the A's organization and he is fighting for a job, but he'll have to take a backseat to the veteran pitcher and bide his time.
"It's something that's there but it would be just a waste of time to think about that kind of stuff," Straily said. "I'm just getting ready, today was just a frustrating day but moving forward from here I just have to learn from it and keep getting better."
Bringer of Rain:
Josh Donaldson joined the A's hit parade on Monday with a 4-for-4 day. He hit two doubles and his third home run of the spring. He also hit two homers in a rain shortened game in which the stats were wiped out. Donaldson is considered the everyday starter at third base after hitting .290 with 11 doubles, eight home runs and 26 RBI over the final 47 games of the 2012 season.
Donaldson converted from catcher to third base prior to the 2012 season. He has been playing slick defense at third base.
He may not have called bank, but Chris Young launched a fourth-inning grand slam that banked off a billboard behind the left field wall. Young's second homer of the spring gave the A's a 6-3 lead. The career center fielder also looked pretty natural in left field. He is growing quite accustomed to the corner outfield spots. He made a nice running catch on a deep fly ball hit his way.
"I haven't seen him have a problem with any corner," Melvin said. "That play he made in left field there was a very good play. Over the shoulder, running, sun, all of the above. He's just a good outfielder."
Hiro Nakajima got the day off on Monday. At the moment, he isn't in the lineup on Tuesday either. Eric Sogard is currently penciled in at second base and Jed Lowrie is scheduled to get the start at shortstop. Melvin hinted that there could be some changes.
"We've got some other things going on too that might effect tomorrow's lineup," Melvin said.