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A's: Stephen Piscotty was “lost last year.” Why he feels better than ever

Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News on

Published in Baseball

"It looks like they came straight from spring training to the season," utility player Chad Pinder said. "They both look awesome."

"He came back and looks really, really good," assistant hitting coach Eric Martins said of Piscotty. "Better than in years past."

A's right-handed pitcher Daniel Mengden showed up to Mesa in February with his throwing arm wrapped up in a sling. Arthroscopic surgery and a 60-day IL transfer would give the A's some time to make a decision on Mengden, who is out of minor league options and without a known, everyday role on the big league squad.

This short season's 30-man roster provides Mengden a clearer path to big league outings -- and the A's a chance to see him there, healthy. He'll still need to be moved from the 60-day IL before rosters are due.

Mengden is throwing all his pitches and is a "full-go," manager Bob Melvin said.

"From what I've seen he's ready to go," he said. "I didn't expect him to be far along, but I wouldn't say there's any restrictions on him."

A healthy Mengden could operate in the pitching staff as a possible tandem or piggybacking option. Even though Mengden is a starter by trade -- he has two complete games with the A's, a 4.78 ERA in 16 starts squeezed between injuries and options -- he's expected to follow Chris Bassitt's lead as a swingman, of sorts.

"Daniel will have to go through that, and you have to accept that if you want to excel," Melvin said. "He's at a point where he realizes, when you're asked to pitch, just pitch and have a routine for when you're coming in for relief. Have a routine when you're starting, and look forward to the opportunity to be on the mound. That's a tough thing to acclimate to, but he's getting close to that."

Matt Olson struck out against him in Sunday's simulated game, and praised his "whip-y" arm action.

 

"I haven't faced Mengden too much, but the all was jumping out of his hand," Olson said. "He threw me a really sharp curveball. It looked like he was commanding well... Something that you don't think will be on you is on you real quick."

Smith -- the man from the rare A's, San Francisco Giants trade completed this February -- is making his mark as a key reliever.

Pitching coach Scott Emerson lauded Smith's fastball spin rate -- which is in the 54th percentile among the league, per Statcast. In Sunday's simulated game, Smith struck out the side: Barreto, catcher Austin Allen and infielder Eric Campbell before a Ramon Laureano fly out.

"He's been really solid," Olson said. "He's putting it where he wants and executing all his pitches."

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