Camp Notes: Saarloos Embraces New Role
Saarloos' sinker will come in handy out of the pen
Saarloos' sinker will come in handy out of the pen
Scout
Posted Mar 6, 2006


When the A's signed Esteban Loaiza in the offseason, it pushed Kirk Saarloos from the starting rotation to the bullpen. Saarloos didn't complain about the move and embraced his new role by cutting his hair and growing a beard to look meaner.

The role isn't new. Kirk Saarloos was a closer for three years at Cal State Fullerton, saving 22 games. He made 32 relief appearances with the Astros in 2003, taking part in a six-pitcher no-hitter at Yankee Stadium, and also pitched twice in relief a year ago.

Considering he's a sinkerball pitcher adept at getting ground balls, Saarloos could be used often with runners on base to try getting a double play.

"If I execute and do what I'm supposed to do, it's going to be on the ground," Saarloos said. "It's not going to be a popup or strikeout."

Saarloos gave himself practice Sunday, getting out of jams in two of his three innings, giving up just one run in the A's 8-5 win over the Angels at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

One was a 3-6-1 double play in which Saarloos scooped a low throw. He even struck out two batters.

Saarloos' 2.99 strikeouts per nine innings last year was the lowest in Oakland history. Saarloos joked to general manager Billy Beane that he's going to be a different pitcher this year.

"I'm throwing hard and striking guys out," Saarloos said. "You don't have to pace yourself or worry about pitch counts. I'm throwing eight pitches to each hitter, trying to strike them out -- especially with that yakker I'm throwing this year."

Notebook

--SS Bobby Crosby, the designated hitter for a third game because of a minor case of shoulder tendinitis, had two hits and a walk on Sunday. Manager Ken Macha said he'll give Crosby a couple days off and have the medical staff re-evaluate Crosby's shoulder. He could be ready to play in the field by Thursday. Crosby has been red-hot at the plate this spring and leads the team in RBI.

--INF Andrew Beattie, one of the minor-leaguers getting more playing time with Crosby not cleared to play the field, made two fine defensive plays Sunday and added a single.

--LHP Joe Kennedy pitched two scoreless innings and has only allowed one baserunner in 3 1/3 innings this spring.

--RHP Huston Street allowed one hit in a scoreless inning for Team USA against the Giants.

--INF Scott McClain, who played four years in Japan before returning to the States last year, hit a two-run homer Sunday. The A's signed McClain before acquiring Antonio Perez in a trade, viewing McClain as a possible backup infielder with power. McClain has hit 25 or more homers six different years, including 39 in 2001 with Japan and 30 last season with AAA-Iowa.

--INF Freddie Bynum hit a two-run homer, singled and scored two runs Sunday. He did make an error that led to three unearned runs. Bynum is a long shot to make the team, but his speed and ability to play the infield or outfield gives him some value.

--LHP Randy Keisler, who is one of three candidates to be a second lefty out of the bullpen, pitched a scoreless final inning. The A's will only keep 12 pitchers (and two lefty relievers) if Frank Thomas isn't ready by Opening Day.

Did You Know? 66 -- Errorless game streak by backup catcher Adam Melhuse, the ninth-longest in Oakland history, which dates back to June 5, 2004.



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