Notes: Dinardo relishes being in rotation

Notes: Dinardo relishes starting

ARLINGTON -- A's lefty Lenny DiNardo was picked up the day before pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training this February, so he didn't even make it into Oakland's media guide.

But he made the team as a reliever against considerable odds, and since being given a look-see as a starter after a series of injuries, he's been making a case for himself as a member of the 2008 rotation.

"When I went into the rotation, obviously it was a fill-in situation," DiNardo said Tuesday before the second game of a three-game series at Rangers Ballpark. "But I think I've made the most of it so far."

A's manager Bob Geren thinks so, too. DiNardo, who will make his 13th start of the season in Wednesday's series finale, has pitched better in relief (1-1, 1.38 ERA in 12 appearances) than he has as a starter (4-5, 3.96 ERA), but Geren likes him in both roles.

"He has a nice mix in either," Geren said. "He has game versus lefties and righties, he throws strikes, and he has nice movement."

DiNardo, who was claimed off waivers from the Boston Red Sox on Valentine's Day and is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, would love to get a look as a starter next spring.

"When I was picked up, I just didn't want to go to Triple-A," he said. "Whether it was the bullpen or starting, I just wanted to make the club. I'm having a lot of fun. It'd be nice to go to Spring Training and get stretched [out as a starter]; this spring I was getting one, two innings at a time.

"All I'm asking for is a shot."

Said Geren: "He's done a nice job, and he'd be considered, yeah. He's starting right now. What better shot is there?"

Ramping it up: Righty Esteban Loaiza gave up two runs on seven hits Monday while striking out two over four innings in his second rehab start for Triple-A Sacramento, and Geren received positive reports on the 78-pitch outing from Sacramento pitching coach Rick Rodriguez.

"I talked to Ricky Rod today, and he said Esteban's velocity was up a couple miles an hour," Geren said. "He definitely looked better from last time, and his control was good."

Though the A's aren't an organization obsessed with radar-gun readings, they'd like to see Loaiza's fastball in the high 80s before activating him. He hovered at about 84 in his first outing and was at 86 on Monday.

Geren said Loaiza's high pitch count for the number of innings he worked was the result of a high number of foul balls hit off him. Loaiza is scheduled to make one more start for the River Cats, on Saturday in Las Vegas, and the A's would like to see him throw between 90-100 pitches.

"We'll see where he's at after Saturday and make a decision from there," Geren said.

More than likely, Loaiza's return will bump rookie lefty Dallas Braden from the rotation. Loaiza and Braden have been working on the same schedule for the past two weeks, so Loaiza could made his 2007 debut Aug. 16 at home against the White Sox.

Dribblers: The weather here Tuesday was particularly hot and muggy, so the A's took batting practice indoors. ... As impressive as the A's pitching staff's 21 strikeouts were on Monday, Geren was equally pleased that only two unintentional walks were issued, and only one home run was allowed in a ballpark known as a launching pad. "That's a good combination," said the skipper. ... The Rangers weren't pleased with plate umpire Bill Miller's strike zone Monday, and eventually shortstop Michael Young and manager Ron Washington got tossed for arguing in the 11th inning. Washington went nose-to-nose with Miller for several minutes before exiting, and Geren, who worked with Washington on the A's coaching staff for four years, said he's never seen Washington that mad. "But he's sticking up for his players," Geren noted, "and that's the right thing to do." ... Center fielder Mark Kotsay, who entered the series batting .303 (10-for-33) over his past 10 games, was not in the starting lineup for the second day in a row. The Rangers started a lefty both nights, and Kotsay entered the series batting .116 (5-for-43) against southpaws this season.

Up next: DiNardo (5-6, 3.19 ERA) takes on Rangers righty Kevin Millwood (7-9, 5.98 ERA) in the series finale Wednesday. The first pitch is set for 5:35 p.m. PT.

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.