A's keep starting pitchers away from AL West foes

A's keep starting pitchers away from AL West foes

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- A's pitchers are being held out of games against division foes this week, with Dan Straily and Sonny Gray both getting their work in Minor League contests instead.

Straily, as well as relievers Jim Johnson and Luke Gregerson and Sean Doolittle, pitched in a Minor League game at Papago Park while the A's played the Rangers on Monday. And on Wednesday, Gray will start in a Minor League game so he doesn't have to face the Angels for the same reason.

Straily allowed seven runs on 10 hits -- including two homers -- with two walks and two strikeouts on 89 pitches in 5 2/3 innings, but just one run and four hits through the first four frames. Doolittle and Gregerson threw scoreless innings, while Johnson allowed two unearned runs and two hits in his inning of work.

"They're stretched out so much," explained manager Bob Melvin. "You're getting where you want them to get 80-90 pitches, and not only that, but you want to start using your repertoire more so like you would when you're in the regular season.

"With some of the starters early on, they're probably working on some things and aren't pitching certain guys the way they would during the season, where now they have to get after it in the fashion where it's a regular-season game."

Melvin still made the trek to Surprise for his club's meeting with the Rangers, bringing along few lineup regulars. Road games, in particular, allow him to see some of the division's best.

Elvis Andrus, Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre were all in Texas' starting lineup Monday. The day before, Melvin opted to go on the road for split-squad action, rather than remain at home, to get a peek at a handful of Seattle's regulars, including newcomers Robinson Cano and Logan Morrison.

"You know you're going to get their full lineup," he said. "I'm not looking for any particular thing, just a sense of how they're doing things."

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.