Dallas Braden is eyes of A’s young pitching staff
PHOENIX (AP) – Dallas Braden has found a whole new role to play for the Oakland Athletics’ young pitching staff. He’s become a second set of eyes to many of the younger hurlers.
Braden, at age 26, is older than all but Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscherer among possible A’s starters. But after an offseason in which he helped the University of Pacific pitchers, he’s discovered a taste for instruction.
“They come to me with some little stuff,” Braden said. “I like to think I do a good job of letting anyone know they can be comfortable with me and I will give them the answer they’re looking for, good, bad, or indifferent.”
The left-hander acts like a teacher’s aide to Oakland pitching coach Curt Young and willingly offers up observations.
“You can put me in a bus terminal at 3 o’clock in the morning and if someone there wants to talk about baseball, I’m in,” Braden said. “I’m still a huge fan of baseball, the game itself. If the young guys think they can talk to me, that’s a huge compliment to me.”
He talked about his newfound interest Thursday after allowing two runs on three hits in three innings of work against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Trevor Cahill, the A’s 21-year-old right-hander, often consults Braden.
“I like talking to Dallas because he’s seen me pitch,” Cahill said. “I’ll talk to Sheets and Duch too, try to pick their brains. I don’t take anything for granted.”
Like Braden, Cahill spent a lot of his offseason working out at Cal State San Marcos, an NAIA school where two of his high school friends are pitchers.
At UOP, coached by former major-leaguer Ed Sprague, the outgoing Braden held seminars with the Tigers’ pitchers.
“I’d take guys under my wing and actually show them video and what little things to look for,” Braden said. “I even had a hand in shaping the pitching rotation. I’ve stayed in touch with those guys and know how they’re doing. I had to be careful about NCAA rules though. I found out you can give them a bagel, but you can’t give them cream cheese because it’s considered extra.”
Pacific had a team ERA of 5.05 entering play Thursday. Junior Marcus Pointer is 4-0 with a 1.91 ERA.
“Any time someone wants to sit and talk about the game, I’m all about it,” Braden said. “I have gone through things and situations that might benefit them.”
NOTES: Duchscherer is expected to throw live batting practice Friday. … LHP Gio Gonzalez will make his first start of the spring when an A’s split-squad team travels to Scottsdale to face the San Francisco Giants on Saturday. RHP Clayton Mortensen is the probable starter in the other game. … Braden threw 12 pitches in the first inning, 11 for strikes. … Michael Duca, co-author of the just-released book “The Baseball Codes” is an official scorer for the A’s.