DiNardo Looking To Be Ready For The Call

METAIRIE, La. -- Lenny DiNardo has spent parts of the past five seasons on a major league pitching mound, first with the Boston Red Sox and most recently with the Oakland A's. Now the left-hander is hoping a stint in Triple-A will do him some good.

For the third straight season, Lenny DiNardo began the year on a major league roster. He made four appearances with the A's, including two starts, before being optioned to Triple-A Sacramento, where he's since made three starts and posted an ERA of 5.00.

His most recent outing was not one that might cause the A's to think twice about their decision to demote him, as the southpaw allowed a season-high 12 hits and six runs in a game against the New Orleans Zephyrs on May 10.

There were still some positives to take from the game. One was that DiNardo managed to pitch six full innings to save the River Cats' bullpen for the rest of the series. That was important because Sacramento (23-16) went on to win the final three games against New Orleans to improve to a season-best seven games over .500.

This is DiNardo's first stint with Sacramento after pitching for the A's all of last season and at the start of this year.
Another positive was that DiNardo worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in one inning after allowing three straight singles.

"He made a couple of mistakes up in the zone that hurt him," River Cats manager Todd Steverson said.

"To do that and get out of a couple of jams, it was good to see."

"I made some good pitches and some bad pitches," DiNardo said of the start.

"I made it through six innings and that's a positive note. I'm getting some innings under my belt and am trying to get better every time out while working on something."

There isn't a whole lot that the veteran DiNardo, 28, is working on specifically with his pitches. Mainly, it's just about getting innings, which the big league team was unable to provide him because of how well their starters have performed this season.

Entering play Tuesday, Oakland starters had combined for a 3.54 ERA, which placed behind only the Cleveland Indians' mark of 3.16 among American League clubs.

"They said to go get some innings in down here and that's what I'm doing," DiNardo recalled.

"I was available every day up there, but the fact of the matter is they were pitching so well. The starters were going into the sixth and seventh innings, and you don't really need a long relief guy when you have that. I was sitting on the bench and kind of marinating out there in the bullpen without getting any work in."

DiNardo said he's been trying to focus on his positive points since being sent down.

"I like to cut in on righties and throw changeups away. Speed them up and slow them down, that's basically all I'm doing," he said.

"I'm not trying to change anything or get a new pitch. I'm just trying to go out and pitch to my strengths."

For now, DiNardo plans to continue starting. He's logged innings both as a starter and a reliever, and with the A's last season he made 20 starts and had a respectable 4.11 ERA.

"I've done both and have always told myself whatever gets me to the big leagues is what I want to do," DiNardo said.

"I feel I can still do both. Whatever they need, I'm available to do both."

He said going back and forth between roles still presents a challenge at times, even though it's something he's done for much of his career.

"It depends on how much time off I have," DiNardo said.

"If I have an extended period of time off and then I go in to start, that can be a little difficult. But I have three starts under my belt now and feel I'm fully capable of starting a few more."

All the while, he's happy to share any wisdom and experiences he has from pitching in big league parks to his teammates with Sacramento.

"I don't know if it's an advantage or not, but any experience that I took from being in the big leagues, I like to extend down here to the guys that have never been here so that they'll hopefully get an opportunity just like I did," DiNardo said.

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