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Oakland A’s pitching phenom Mason Miller ready to show “electric stuff” out of bullpen

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OAKLAND  –  The Oakland A’s pitching staff has a multitude of hurlers who will rely on high-speed fastballs to get outs this season.

But none generate the kind of buzz that Mason Miller’s right arm does in his second season in the major leagues.

In seven spring training games, Miller has struck out 11 in just 6.2 innings.

“He’s got electric stuff, fastball, slider, all of that,” A’s catcher Shea Langeliers said. “It’s just another year for him, and now he understands how it works.”

Miller will start the season as a relief pitcher.

His role in the bullpen, whether it be long reliever, setup man or closer, has not been defined yet.

Given Miller’s injury history, manager Mark Kotsay is wary of overworking the gifted prospect.

“We’re going to find out about the durability aspect of it once the season gets going,” Kotsay said. “We have to be conscious of the workload with Mason, but again, the stuff is there and I’m excited about giving him that chance.”

Miller referred to spring training as a “clean slate,” a fresh start after last year’s topsy-turvy professional debut.

Oakland A's pitcher Mason Miller, shown here in a file photo (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)
Oakland A’s pitcher Mason Miller, shown here in a file photo (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 

The 6-foot-5 fireballer, with a fastball that touches 102 MPH, parlayed a strong showing in the 2022 Arizona Fall League into a promotion to Double-A to begin 2023.

Miller pitched one game in Double-A before getting the call-up to Triple-A Las Vegas. His stay at the highest level of the minor leagues also lasted all of one game, after which the A’s called him up to to Oakland.

The Gardner-Webb alum started six games for Oakland before an elbow injury sidelined Miller from May 7 until September. He pitched out of the bullpen in four games during the season’s final month.

“It’s been a mental battle for sure,” Miller said. “A lot of highs, a lot of lows.”

Miller said he’s already benefiting from the A’s decision to load up on veteran arms.

Former All-Star Paul Blackburn is back for his eighth season with the team, and former San Francisco Giants Ross Stripling and Alex Wood are 30-something year-olds who bring a wealth of experience with them from across the Bay.

“Paul, being here last year, has been great,” Miller said. “And getting to know Stripling and Woody through spring training has been awesome. They’re approachable guys, and they want to be there for us as much as we want to be there for them.”

Regardless of what his final role is, the 25-year-old said he’s better-prepared for major league life than he was last year.

“It’s exciting being a part of this group and obviously be in a role where I kind of have a better idea of what the year is going to look like than last year,” Miller said. “I feel great.”

Notebook

  • Kotsay said Aledmys Diaz can do ‘limited baseball activity’ but that he is still not able to run after injuring his calf.  Kotsay noted “Calves are funny, and generally they take a little bit longer.”
  • A’s fans will have to wait a while to see outfielder Miguel Andújar. The offseason addition will have surgery to repair a torn meniscus on Wednesday. “I think there was a lot of excitement about getting him on this roster and impacting the club,”  Kotsay said.
  • Darell Hernaiz, a 22-year-old infielder, has made the opening day roster after a strong spring training in which he hit .313 with six RBIs. He’s the youngest player on an A’s opening day roster since a 22-year-old Brett Anderson in 2010. Hernaiz batted .321/.357/.418 in 131 games split between Double-A and Triple-A in the Oakland system last season.

 



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