MESA, Ariz. –- Jesse Hahn was a little over-amped for Monday’s start against the Kansas City Royals, but the adrenaline rush was justified.
Pitching in his first game in eight months, the A’s right-hander allowed a two-run homer but otherwise took nothing but positives from his two-inning spring debut. His fastball touched 95 miles per hour and he came away feeling good in his first outing since a strained forearm sidelined him in early July.
“Just to be in front of a crowd again, competing in a real game felt good," Hahn said after Oakland’s 6-4 victory. “It felt like two years ago, but really it was only like (eight) months. So it was an awesome feeling to get back out there.”
Hahn found himself overthrowing at times, and he regretted throwing a changeup that Mike Moustakas bashed for a two-run homer in the first. But he passed his biggest test yet -- taking the mound in a competitive environment, with opposing hitters digging in at the plate, and getting through it OK.
“Just because I felt so good, I think I was trying to let it go,” Hahn said. “I need to calm myself down, stop rushing to the plate and get the ball down.”
Moustakas’ homer was the only hit Hahn allowed. He walked one and didn’t record a strikeout, but A’s manager Bob Melvin liked what he saw. In a rotation that has some question marks beyond ace Sonny Gray, Hahn is being counted on as a crucial piece.
“I think he felt really good about it, as did we,” Melvin said. “You could kind of sense and see that out of him. He was pretty happy. Just the fact he felt great about it. Everything was there that he needed. It was a nice start for him, mentally and physically.”
NOTEWORTHY: Another encouraging sight for the A’s was Coco Crisp motoring around to score from first on Josh Reddick’s third-inning single. Crisp broke with the full-count pitch, and when Reddick’s liner bounced away from a diving Travis Snider in right field, Crisp scored easily. It was one of the best bursts of speed Crisp has shown in the past two seasons, as various injuries have limited his availability.
“He looks much different than we saw him last year,” Melvin said. “He’s running better.”
Crisp has seen substantial time in center field in the early going of Cactus League play. If healthy, Melvin and general manager David Forst say he will see time there backing up Billy Burns, as well as log some time at DH and left field. Melvin liked the way Crisp got a quick read and break on a line drive hit his way Monday. The switch hitter also is showing power from the left side in batting practice.
NEW GUYS: Relievers Ryan Madson and John Axford made their first appearances for the A’s, pitching back-to-back innings.
Madson was sharp in a 1-2-3 frame, notching a strikeout. His Oakland debut also came against the team with which he won a World Series last season. But Madson, slated to be the setup guy in front of Sean Doolittle, said the emotions were stirring inside him simply because it was his first outing of the season. He was especially happy that his cutter worked so well, complementing his fastball and changeup, and said that he would gladly take the stuff he showed Monday on any day of the regular season.
“When I’ve got three pitches, that makes it easier for me,” Madson said.
Axford issued a pair of walks but finished his inning with a strikeout of Balbino Fuenmayor. Like Madson, Axford also said he took some butterflies into his spring debut.
“I was definitely nervous, I think I always get nervous in the spring,” he said. “Once I get it out of the way, my emotions are fine and in check the rest of the way.”
HEALTH UPDATES: Mark Canha (back soreness) took a couple rounds of batting practice. He might get into a game by the end of this week. It remains to be seen what position Canha will get most of his at-bats at. But Melvin said Canha could get work at first base, left field, right field and … center field??
“We’re fairly well covered at this point (in center), but maybe if we get a little later on, give him some time to work out and prepare in center field, it could be an option for him. He’s willing to do anything. We can DH him some too.”
ODDS AND ENDS: Jarrod Parker will face hitters for the first time Thursday, though there’s no word yet on when he will get in a game. … Henderson Alvarez – expected back from shoulder surgery sometime around May – will throw a bullpen session Tuesday.