MESA, Ariz. — A’s pitcher Sean Manaea’s slider has improved this spring, but Sunday’s start against the Cubs showed the pitch is definitely still a work in progress.
Facing Kyle Schwarber in the second inning, Manaea hung a slider in the zone that was crushed over the right field wall by Schwarber. It was the first of back-to-back home runs allowed in the inning.
Despite getting beat by Schwarber with it, Manaea continued to throw the slider for strikes and finished his outing by giving up two runs on four hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
“Sliders, I thought I threw some really good ones,” Manaea said. “They just kept getting better and better as the game went on. Fastball was working on both sides of the plate. I was really happy with all four pitches.”
Manaea said he’d like develop the slider into a potential “go-to” pitch in strikeout situations. It could get there at some point, but for now manager Bob Melvin said Manaea has some work to do for the pitch to catch up with his fastball and changeup.
“He’s out there working on stuff to get better. If this is a regular season game, maybe he doesn’t throw that slider to Schwarber,” Melvin said. “But I though he was a lot more efficient today and threw more strikes. He’s trying out a third pitch in a slider, which will make him that much more effective.”
TRIGGS IMPRESSES MELVIN
Andrew Triggs was dominant on Sunday, closing out the game with three perfect innings to earn the save.
Initially considered in the mix for spot in the rotation at the start of camp, Triggs has been used mostly as a reliever this spring. But with performances like the one against the Cubs, Melvin said the door for a rotation spot could still be open.
“For a guy coming back form surgery, he seems to be more comfortable every time he’s out there,” Melvin said. “As far as pitch count for him, he probably could have gone five today. He’s pitched really well, and that’s one of those starter guys that we haven’t talked about a whole lot. Whether it’s long relief or a starting role, he was really effective today.”
JOYCE REVEALS ELBOW ISSUES
Matt Joyce had not played the outfield since March 1, and it turned out there was a reason for it.
Since a tear in his right elbow that forced him to miss half the season with with the Rays in 2010, Joyce has dealt with elbow soreness that flares up from time to time. Having felt the soreness creep up a couple of weeks ago while throwing, the A’s decided to send Joyce in for an MRI.
The results revealed no damage, but the A’s have remained cautious not to play Joyce in the outfield until he feels fully healthy. Joyce has no worries about being ready for the regular season. In fact, Joyce said he envisions himself returning to play in the outfield possibly at the end of the next week.
“They’re very cautious with stuff like that,” Joyce said. “Make sure I can throw to the point where, if I have to throw in a game, it’ll be fine. I would imagine three or four days of the throwing program, then maybe in the outfield hopefully.”