Triggs' strong outing helps his chance to start for A's

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Oakland Athletics right-hander Andrew Triggs needed a solid performance Wednesday and he delivered.

Triggs gave up two runs on three hits over five-plus innings in a 5-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox. He struck out four and walked none.

Triggs limited the White Sox to one single until two out in the fifth, when Yolmer Sanchez homered. With two vacancies in the Oakland rotation, the outing certainly enhanced Triggs' chance to claim one of them.

''I felt like I had a pretty good feel for most everything in the arsenal,'' Triggs said. ''I made a concerted effort to get the changeup rocking and rolling. It's on its way. I think it's around serviceable right now, but I'd like it to be a little bit better. I was happy with a few of the changeups, save the home run.

''I feel good about everything. The body is bouncing back well. Stuff, I feel like I'm right on schedule,'' he said.

A's manager Bob Melvin called it an ''impressive'' performance.

''He got tested with a bunch of (seven) lefties, too,'' A's manager Bob Melvin said. ''He used both sides of the plate. This was his best outing, so far, his best command, his sharpest breaking ball and good movement on his fastball. He pitched really well.''

Melvin said it is more meaningful coming late in spring training.

''Once you're getting out there to 75 to 80 pitches, you've got a chance to not only evaluate the performance, but there is endurance involved,'' Melvin said.

In Triggs' previous outing he allowed six runs on five hits and two walks over 3 2/3 innings in a loss to Cleveland.

''In my last start, I felt pretty good about my breaking ball, but it was just my fastball command that wasn't great,'' Triggs said. ''That's par for the course in spring. You're going to have at least one of those. I wasn't concerned that it wasn't going to be there the next time out.''

While Triggs started at Southern California, he had been primarily a reliever in the minors. Oakland gave him seven starts as a rookie and he responded with a 1-1 record and a 2.70 ERA, while striking out 23 and walking one over 26 2/3 innings.

Triggs, Jesse Hahn and Rick Alcantara are competing for the final two rotation slots. Hahn, however, yielded seven runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings in his previous start. Alcantara went 1-3 with a 7.25 ERA in five starts last season.

The A's rotation has more questions than answers heading into April.

Staff ace Sonny Gray will begin the season on the disabled list with a lat strain after throwing only two innings March 7 against Arizona. The lefty made 40 throws Wednesday.

''They're like half-speed fastballs, not really pitches at all,'' Gray said.

He said it is more to get the feel of throwing again.

The A's do not want to rush back Gray, who was limited to 22 starts last year because of two injuries. He threw only one inning after Aug. 6 because of a forearm strain.

''What it comes down to is what's an extra two weeks on the front end if you're wind up losing two months on the back end,'' said Gray, who went 14-7 with a 2.73 ERA in 2014. ''When I'm back I want to stay healthy.''

Daniel Mengden, who made 14 starts last year, removed himself from rotation consideration the week before spring training when he fractured his right foot while throwing off the mound in Houston. Mengden, like Gray, will start the season on the disabled list.

Minus Gray, the A's will likely start the season with Kendall Graveman the opening day starter, followed by Sean Manaea and rookie Jharel Cotton.

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