Inside Pitch: Street For Set-Up?

The 2005 season has been a long struggle for most of the Oakland A's, but rookie Huston Street has been a bright spot. Less than a year after he was drafted, Street is in the major leagues and is mowing down hitters at a veteran pace. With his recent success, will Street be put into a more permanent role in the late innings for Oakland?

The sterling effort by reliever Huston Street on May 10 in Fenway Park ago impressed A's manager Ken Macha, but he's not prepared to anoint Street the setup man now that Kiko Calero is on the disabled list.

In fact, Macha doesn't want to give anybody the setup title, noting that Ricardo Rincon, Justin Duchscherer, Keiichi Yabu and Street either can or have pitched the eighth inning.

"That brings a certain sense that I can show everybody in the bullpen that I have confidence in them regardless of the situation," Macha said. "We'll see who is available and where we are in the lineup."

By design, Street won't be available every day. The A's don't want to overuse Street, since he pitched so much last year in college and the minors, and he's performed better with at least one day rest.

The sample size is small, but Street's retired just four of the nine batters he's faced on zero days rest. His ERA is 1.04 in the seven games (8.2 innings) with at least a day's rest.

"My observation is when he gets rest, he can bring it in there at 93 (mph) and his stuff is great," Macha said. "When we pitch him back-to-back, he's down a few ticks. He always says he's ready to go though."

When Street is used, it's likely for multiple innings, like the 2.1 innings he threw against the Red Sox.

"That was a good test for him," Macha said. "We took the lead and that was a big inning for him, a hurdle so to speak."

Struggling A's Not Hiding From Failures

1B Scott Hatteberg was the first A's player to make himself available for interviews at his locker Monday night, like a relief pitcher who had given up a game-winning home run.

The A's haven't hidden from the press after making a costly mistake this season, and Hatteberg continued it.

"A horrible feeling," Hatteberg said. "Maybe we got out of the inning with limited damage or no runs. I feel horrible that I'm the goat. But I am. It happens. We have to move on."

The A's were leading 2-1 in the fourth inning at the time, bases loaded, none out.

Bill Mueller hit a grounder to Hatteberg, and the first baseman's plan was throwing home. He fielded it cleanly but bobbled it in the transfer to his throwing hand. Hatteberg then flipped errantly to first base, the ball got away from pitcher Dan Haren, and two runs scored.

Haren struck out the next two hitters, but then a wild pitch on ball four scored a third run and a two-run double by Trot Nixon made it 6-2 and chased Haren. All five runs in the inning were unearned.

Another theme this year is A's pitchers not blaming the struggling offense. It was no consolation to Haren that all five runs were unearned.

 "I'm struggling and the team is struggling," Haren said. "I still have to make pitches and pick up the team. I could care less about unearned runs. I just want to win. I feel bad because I wanted to go 6-7 innings."

Chavez Hitting Rock Bottom

3B Eric Chavez showed signs of coming out of his season-long funk on the A's most recent homestand.

But after going 1-for-16 from May 5-9, the only hit an infield single, Chavez admitted he was just as lost at the plate -- if not more -- than he's been all season.

"For me, anybody throwing a ball is tough (to hit)," said Chavez, whose average was down to .190 at week's end. "I have no clue (at the plate). I really don't."

In previous seasons, Chavez has gone to A's manager Ken Macha and told him he would understand if he was going to lower him in the order.

Chavez said that again to Macha last week.

"I told him, 'if you want to move me out, move me out,'" Chavez said. "It would be good to shake things up. The way things are going, it really wouldn't matter."

Macha appreciates the sentiment from the always-honest Chavez, but said he doesn't plan to move Chavez down.

"I want guys to know that I have confidence in them," Macha said. "I'm not giving up on them after 100 at-bats. ... If I move him anywhere in the lineup, I might drop him to fourth. Eric won't hit seventh or eighth or be leading off. He's still a key RBI guy. He'll get it going."

 

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