Staying positive a key for Wuertz
Reliever shows signs of improving after iconsistent stretch
OAKLAND -- For A's reliever Michael Wuertz, the 2010 campaign has been unlike any other.
After the season Wuertz had last year, when he posted a career-best 2.63 ERA in 74 appearances, Wuertz signed a two-year, $5.25 million deal to remain with Oakland. Since then, it's been anything but smooth sailing for the right-hander.
For one, Wuertz missed the first 26 games of the season with right shoulder tendinitis, landing on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his career. But Wuertz didn't hit rock bottom until June 21, when he gave up a home run to Ramon Hernandez in the 10th inning of a 6-4 Oakland loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
"The next day, I just told myself, 'You know what? It's time to start a new season,'" Wuertz said.
In his 12 appearances before the A's June 21 loss, Wuertz had an 11.25 ERA. Entering Tuesday, he hadn't allowed a run in six outings since, a span of 4 2/3 innings.
"That stretch was tough, but that's the game of baseball," Wuertz said. "Everybody struggles. If you don't struggle in this game and find a way to get out of it, you shouldn't be here."
For Wuertz, the struggles were all mental. He didn't tweak his delivery or make any physical adjustments, but manager Bob Geren said Wuertz's slider is starting to look like its deceptive self again.
"The biggest thing for me was I wasn't having fun because I wasn't having any success," Wuertz said. "But we're winning some games now. We're playing a lot better as a team, and that helps everything out. You've just got to keep fighting and stay positive -- that's the hardest thing."
Hot-hitting Pennington gets night off
OAKLAND -- With All-Star southpaw CC Sabathia on the hill for the Yankees on Tuesday night, A's manager Bob Geren filled his lineup with right-handed hitters. Daric Barton and Jack Cust were the only lefty batters in the order.
Though he is a switch-hitter, shortstop Cliff Pennington was notably absent from the lineup, replaced by utility man Adam Rosales. Pennington, who entered Tuesday batting .432 in his past 22 contests, was simply given the night off.
"He's been playing a lot," Geren said before Tuesday's game. "He'll be ready tonight if I need him."
Matt Carson, who was called up from Triple-A Sacramento on Monday, got the start in right field in place of the left-handed-hitting Ryan Sweeney. Carson, who played his initial seven professional seasons with the Yankees, said facing his former franchise didn't add anything special to the occasion.
"Seeing a lot of the same guys is cool, but you just come out and play baseball," Carson said. "You can't think about that stuff too much, because if you do, you'll drive yourself nuts."
Geren also elected to go with right-handed hitter Rajai Davis, starting him in left field over left-handed options like Gabe Gross and Matt Watson.
A's await Anderson, Braden after break
OAKLAND -- For now, it looks like lefties Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden will be rejoining the A's rotation shortly after next week's All-Star break.
Braden, who hasn't pitched since June 22 due to left elbow stiffness, tested out his arm on Tuesday for the first time since throwing a 25-pitch bullpen session on Thursday. Braden played catch before Tuesday's game against the Yankees and didn't report any setbacks, but he didn't throw any pitches off a mound. A's manager Bob Geren said the plan is for Braden to return during the first few games after the break.
Anderson, meanwhile, is scheduled to throw in an Arizona Rookie League game on Friday. Geren said that Anderson's arsenal will still be limited on Friday and that the left-hander will try to throw all of his pitches in the following start.
The 22-year-old Anderson could return as early as July 19, and Geren said that he expects the southpaw to be able to throw 75-85 pitches by the time he returns to Oakland's rotation.
Alex Espinoza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.