Sunday, December 10

A’s Adam Oller readies for major-league debut

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Adam Oller was released by the team that drafted him, a minor-league Rule 5 draft pick and a pitcher in independent ball before reaching the major leagues. The right-hander does not expect to forget that when he takes the mound Tuesday for the A’s.

“I’m sure at some point, when I’m warming up tomorrow before the game, it’ll kind of hit me a little,” Oller said Monday. “Not that I never thought I would make it here. Frankly, I’ve been throwing really well, so I felt like I definitely deserved to be here. But just from where I started – the rollercoaster to where I am now.”

Oller is slated to make his major-league debut on Tuesday against the Rays, who are also expected to start a right-hander, Tommy Romero, in his first big-league outing. It would be the 28th instance since 1901 of two starting pitchers debuting in the same game, the Rays said.

The A’s acquired Oller, 27, from the Mets in the Chris Bassitt deal and tabbed him as their fifth starter after working with him on a different approach this spring. Oller said he relied heavily on his offspeed pitches in the Mets’ system and the A’s have encouraged him to use his fastball more.

“You need to be able to throw your fastball in the zone when you want to,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “I think for him, part of that growth process is being able to command that fastball in any count, being able to locate it, and he worked hard on that this spring training.”

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Oller produced good results last year – a 3.45 ERA and a 27.7% strikeout rate at Double-A and Triple-A – but did not resist using the fastball more.

“It’s just a matter of, I have four to five pitches, and why limit myself to one when I can keep them off-balance with four to five,” Oller said. “I am being a lot more fastball-dominant this year than I was last year, but I’m still going to stick to who I am and mixing.”

Opening weekend in Philadelphia offered Oller a glimpse at major-league scale. He said after a Cactus League start in spring that he’d probably never pitched in front of a bigger crowd. The crowd Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park was upwards of 44,000. Oller termed it “surreal.”

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