ANAHEIM – In advance of A’s pitchers stepping in the batter’s box for a two-game interleague series at San Diego, Scott Kazmir is heaping praise on rotation mate Jesse Hahn.
Both draw the starting assignments at Petco Park the next two days, so they’ve been taking extra hacks in the batting cage lately. In some light-hearted gamesmanship, Kazmir is talking up Hahn’s hitting abilities to take a bit of pressure off himself.
“He’s a National League guy,” Kazmir said. “The pressure is on him, for sure.”
It’ll be a return to familiar territory for Hahn, who starts Monday night and will be opposed by former Athletic Tyson Ross. He went 7-4 in 14 games (12 starts) for the Padres last season in his first taste of the majors, then got traded to Oakland over the winter with reliever R.J. Alvarez in exchange for catcher Derek Norris, pitcher Seth Streich and international bonus money.
Hahn went just 2-for-22 with one RBI last season while batting in the National League. He’s looking forward to the chance to hit again though. Petco Park is notorious for being rough on hitters, but as Hahn noted with a smile: “They moved the fences in. I’ve been watching on TV.”
Funny enough, Kazmir’s career hitting numbers are identical to Hahn’s – 2-for-22 with one RBI. But those stats are stretched over parts of 11 major league seasons.
[RELATED: Phegley making most of his playing time]
A’s reliever Drew Pomeranz was asked which starter has looked better in the cage.
“I’d say (Hahn), but Kaz won’t tell you that.”
When it comes to the pitching staff, Pomeranz is one guy the A’s might want walking up to the plate. He was 7-for-34 (.206) over three seasons with the Colorado Rockies, and in May 2012 he actually homered off Edinson Volquez at Petco Park.
It was an odd, and memorable, sequence. In the second inning of that game, Volquez hit a line drive that struck Pomeranz on the right knee. By the fourth inning Pomeranz had to leave the game, but not before he used his right-handed swing to get payback on Volquez, driving a ball off the façade of the second deck in left field.
“I kind of limped around the bases a little bit,” Pomeranz recalled.
Pomeranz began 2012 with three hits in his first five at-bats, including a single off Clayton Kershaw. Apparently he’s shared these credentials with manager Bob Melvin.
“I’ve been lobbying Bob,” Pomeranz said. “With Tommy (Milone) gone, I’m the only pitcher with a homer.”
Designated hitter Billy Butler, hitting .244 overall and currently in a 2-for-26 slump, is out of the lineup for the second time in four games. Melvin emphasized that the decision Sunday was partly to get Ben Zobrist a half-day off as the DH. But asked about Butler, he added: “He’ll hit a ball hard … and then not as quality of at-bats as you’re used to seeing from him consistently throughout the game.”
Melvin said first baseman Ike Davis (strained left quad) will likely come off the disabled list on the upcoming homestand.