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Straily isn't worried about his status in A's rotation

Straily isn't worried about his status in A's rotation

PHOENIX -- Dan Straily is here for one reason.

The A's righty isn't too interested in talking about how he did things backward, about how he made a handful of starts in a playoff run before first stepping into big league camp.

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Nor does he really care to discuss his job status with the A's, which is presumably up in the air when Bartolo Colon officially completes his suspension five games into the regular season.

"I'm just getting ready for a long season," Straily said after his Cactus League debut on Wednesday, an 11-6 win over the Padres. "It's not up to me where I go. I'm getting ready to make however many starts I make. I'm just getting ready to pitch. That's all I'm here to do."

Should he do that well, Straily could make it a difficult decision for the A's when it's time to determine where the $3 million Colon slots into the rotation. A strong spring showing, along with a solid regular-season debut, by Straily could make the club think twice about sending him down to the Minors, where he compiled 190 strikeouts in 152 innings last year.

Between now and then, Straily will keep his focus on fastball command, something that was inconsistent in his first spring start against the Padres, who collected two runs on two hits vs. the righty. Straily also walked one and struck out a batter.

"Fastball command, that's kind of what my whole game is based on, throwing the fastball where I want, and letting everything else do its job," Straily said. "Today it was a little up at times, but other pitches were right where I wanted them, so it's just about that battle of finding consistency to take into the season."

Straily, 24, threw few breaking balls in his 34-pitch outing, as he looks to save his slider for the later stages of the spring season.

"I just don't have a feel for it yet because I've only thrown a few," he said. "Within the next week or so, I'm sure it'll be game ready. I'll start throwing it in sides more. I let my breaking balls get ready when I'm actually pitching in games. I've seen all these stories of guys getting hurt with breaking balls, with sliders and curveballs, and I don't want to be one of those guys, so I wait until I need to throw it. It might be beneficial or not, but it's worked for me up to this point, so I don't see why I should change that."

Manager Bob Melvin is very trusting of Straily, despite the fact that at this time last year the pitcher wasn't even on his radar. In fact, the right-hander was brought up to big league camp as an extra arm for just one day, before he requested to remain in Minor League camp so he could stay on schedule.

Melvin thought Straily "threw the ball pretty well" on Wednesday, and he, too, is unconcerned with the decisions that await the club -- at least not now.

"I don't think he should worry about that at all, and he's not," Melvin said. "He's come here in great shape and, really, from the first day of bullpens, has looked like a guy that's as prepared as anybody coming into camp, being ready for this opportunity. I don't think he looks at this in any way other than competing for a job and staying focused on that."

The motivation is there. Straily went 2-1 with a 3.89 ERA in his two stints with the A's last year, but he also failed to get out of the fifth inning three times in seven tries, gave up 11 homers in fewer than 40 innings and was left off the postseason roster. So he went home and logged countless hours of work, leading to Wednesday's showing.

"I had to knock the rust off, that's for sure," he said, smiling. "Having to wait your turn, it feels like it's been a long two weeks, but it felt really good to get out there and throw some pitches.

"The stuff was about right where I expected it to be. Obviously the competitor in you doesn't want to get hit at all, but you are here getting ready."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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