OAKLAND -- For A's reliever Michael Wuertz, the 2010 campaign has been unlike any other.
After the season Wuertz had last year, when he posted a career-best 2.63 ERA in 74 appearances, Wuertz signed a two-year, $5.25 million deal to remain with Oakland. Since then, it's been anything but smooth sailing for the right-hander.
For one, Wuertz missed the first 26 games of the season with right shoulder tendinitis, landing on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his career. But Wuertz didn't hit rock bottom until June 21, when he gave up a home run to Ramon Hernandez in the 10th inning of a 6-4 Oakland loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
"The next day, I just told myself, 'You know what? It's time to start a new season,'" Wuertz said.
In his 12 appearances before the A's June 21 loss, Wuertz had an 11.25 ERA. Entering Tuesday, he hadn't allowed a run in six outings since, a span of 4 2/3 innings.
"That stretch was tough, but that's the game of baseball," Wuertz said. "Everybody struggles. If you don't struggle in this game and find a way to get out of it, you shouldn't be here."
For Wuertz, the struggles were all mental. He didn't tweak his delivery or make any physical adjustments, but manager Bob Geren said Wuertz's slider is starting to look like its deceptive self again.
"The biggest thing for me was I wasn't having fun because I wasn't having any success," Wuertz said. "But we're winning some games now. We're playing a lot better as a team, and that helps everything out. You've just got to keep fighting and stay positive -- that's the hardest thing."