Straily struggles, could be headed to River Cats early

Published: Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2013 - 7:46 am

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Although the A's won't have Bartolo Colon in their rotation the first week of the season, he'll almost certainly be there after serving the final five days of his 2012 suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Manager Bob Melvin said one of his young starters likely will be sent to the River Cats to make room for Colon once Colon becomes eligible. Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin appear to be the pitchers on the bubble.

"We're getting one of them ready to start at Triple A," Melvin said.

That one may be Straily, who gave up three first-inning runs in a 7-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday. He is 1-2 with a 6.59 ERA this spring.

Straily was encouraged by his performance, saying he traditionally has bad springs.

"I've always made teams based on what I did the year before, not on what I do in spring training," he said.

Last year at Double-A Midland and Sacramento, Straily went 9-7 with a 2.78 ERA and 190 strikeouts in 152 innings. The A's called him up in August, and he went 2-1 with a 3.89 ERA in seven starts in Oakland.

Melvin, however, didn't share Straily's assessment of his outing.

"I'm tired of saying he recovered after a slow start," Melvin said. "You can't give up three in the first. You can't get two quick outs, then walk the next guy on four pitches. You can't do that. You want to see progress."

Meanwhile, Hiroyuki Nakajima's grip on the shortstop job is getting more tenuous.

Nakajima, batting ninth for the first time this spring, went 0 for 3, dropping his average to .176. He also dropped a fly ball, his fourth error of the spring.

Melvin, who has been moving Nakajima all around the order, said he likes to have speed in the No. 9 spot, so he was giving him a look there. But if Nakajima's hitting troubles continue, he's going to have trouble securing a starting job.

"He hit a ball hard to shortstop and one not so hard to shortstop," Melvin said. "We're starting to see better (results in) batting practice. There is some progression there."

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