Oakland A's Spring Notes: Slow-Pitch Practice

Kaz Tadano displayed his eepheus pitch in practice; Mike Mitchell has looked sharp; and more...

--RHP Kazuhito Tadano created quite a buzz during batting practice over the weekend. He threw a number of eepheus pitches during batting practice. The eepheus pitch is a looping soft toss that comes in at 50 MPH or slower. The pitch is considered the ultimate "junk" pitch and is thrown by very few pitchers in the big leagues. Tadano got to show his off to A's hitters for the first time this weekend. He spent last spring at the Cleveland Indians' camp, as he was acquired at the end of spring training last year. He then spent all of last season in Sacramento. Tadano struggled with a knee injury last season, but is 100 percent healthy thus far this spring.

-- RHP Mike Mitchell has displayed impressive velocity thus far this spring. Mitchell missed nearly two seasons with arm injuries early in his career, but he was healthy throughout the 2006 season. He was an All-Star closer for Stockton during the first half of the season and pitched well as a set-up man for Midland during the second half of the season. Mitchell was impressive during the AFL season this past fall and he is throwing in the mid-90s with sink this spring. He could start the season in Triple-A Sacramento.

--RHP Rich Harden, who is expected to take over Barry Zito's role as staff ace, looked sharp in his early bullpen sessions. He's shown no ill effects from a strained right elbow ligament that caused him to miss much of last season.

--RHP Dan Haren, another right-hander needed to step up in the rotation, also has looked good. He is mixing in a cut-fastball in hopes of cutting down the number of homeruns allowed this season.

--RHP Huston Street arrived in Phoenix looking much bulkier than last year. He credits his physique to a strict workout and diet regimen during the winter. His slider, which is typically slow to develop, has looked sharp early this spring.

--1B Dan Johnson, after being diagnosed with double vision, has been undergoing eye therapy and hopes to improve on last year's .234 average.

--3B Eric Chavez is optimistic that frequent visits to an Oakland-based chiropractor during the season will lessen his injury problems.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3.91 to 1 -- RHP Dan Haren's franchise-record strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2006. He had 176 strikeouts and allowed 45 walks.


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