OAKLAND – A's right-hander Dan Straily was still smarting from allowing six runs in five innings to the Mariners in his last start when pitching coach Curt Young had him relive it – on video.
Young wanted Straily to view the start and rate his performance – pitch location and selection. Young saw that while Straily's strike percentage with his fastball was lower than preferred, in the mid-50s, he mostly moved the pitch well to both sides of the plate.
Straily was not so generous with his evaluation.
"He was pretty hard on himself," Young said.
Straily, the 24-year-old who has filled Brett Anderson's spot in the rotation as the A's Opening Day starter recovers from a sprained ankle, agreed his coach "found way more positives than I did."
It may have had something to do with the outing raising his ERA to 7.06 in four starts, with the fifth slated for today against the Texas Rangers.
"It's just something that showed maybe I was being too hard on myself," Straily said of later comparing his evaluation with Young's. "But at the same time, I was still frustrated with myself for giving up six runs the night before and losing a ballgame.
"That's something that should never sit well with anyone. Even balls where I got guys out, I didn't nail my spots, so (on the rating system) I was like, minus. Even if it was a positive in the game."
That pursuit of flawlessness in a game governed by failure is perhaps only natural for a player in Straily's position. Effectively the sixth starter in the A's organization, Straily is already in his second stint with the A's this season, but he may be headed back to Triple A when Anderson returns, which could be as early as this weekend against Kansas City.
It's a situation Straily believes "can relate to any job. I come up here and make the best of my opportunities. I'm going to make the most of every one and make sure I learn something from every chance I get out there."
His current call-up lesson: "To be humble."
Straily overmatched minor-league hitters last season, striking out more than 11 batters every nine innings, and is 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA in three Sacramento starts this year. Consistent success has not followed him to Oakland.
He went 2-1 with a 3.89 ERA in seven starts last year for the A's but is 1-1 with that above-7.00 ERA this season – though the A's have won three of his four starts.
"I feel like I've pitched a lot better than my ERA, but at the end of the day, numbers is what we play for – wins and numbers," Straily said. "We've won two of the three starts (since he was recalled May 1), but not necessarily because the team hopped on my shoulders, you know?"
Young and manager Bob Melvin said the key for Straily in good outings, as with many pitchers, is his ability to command his fastball, especially early in counts. "When he's throwing strikes and he's ahead, you're seeing a lot of swings and misses, you're seeing strikeouts," Melvin said. "So it's important for him to get ahead, be a little less predictable."
On reflection, Straily said his Seattle start probably wasn't as bad as his line – or first evaluation – indicated. He induced a lot of ground balls, some of which found holes for singles. The damaging blow was a changeup Raul Ibanez hit for a three-run homer. As he watched that on video, Straily said, A's hitting coach Chili Davis popped his head in.
"He goes, 'You throw that same pitch, he could've taken it, rolled it over, swung and missed, popped it up,' " Straily said. "Anything can happen. We don't want to have the results we did with that pitch anymore."
Injury updates – Anderson threw a bullpen session and took part in fielding practice Tuesday. Melvin said he wants to see how Anderson feels today before deciding what day to slot Anderson back into the rotation.
While center fielder Coco Crisp (hamstring) is on track to return from the disabled list today, Melvin said, Chris Young (quad) might still be a couple days away.