Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Jared Lansford, P

Like many of the Oakland A's top prospects, Jared Lansford experienced a lost season in 2007. Limited by a mysterious arm injury, Lansford made only one start in 2007. Now healthy, Lansford has transformed himself from a starter into one of the Stockton Ports' best relievers. We spoke to Lansford about being in the bullpen, his experience in Hawaii this fall and more inside…

Selected in the second round of the 2005 draft, Jared Lansford quickly established himself as a promising prospect. During his first pro season in 2005, Lansford allowed only three runs in 21 innings and struck-out 20 for the Arizona Rookie League A's squad. He followed up that performance with a strong showing with Low-A Kane County in 2006. The right-hander went 11-6 with a 2.86 ERA in 104 innings. He threw a seven-inning no-hitter and was named to the Midwest League All-Star game.

Lansford threw a no-hitter in 2006.
Lansford hit his first career speed bump at the end of the 2006 season when he struggled during a brief stint with the High-A Stockton Ports. He allowed 18 runs in 11.1 innings for the Ports. Despite those struggles, there were high expectations surrounding Lansford as he entered the 2007 season.

The 2007 campaign ended practically before it began for Lansford. He was injured four innings into his Opening Night outing. For much of the next few months, doctors were unable to determine exactly what was causing Lansford pain in his right shoulder. Eventually, a correct diagnosis was made and Lansford was able to rehab his shoulder in time to participate in the Hawaiian Winter Baseball league after the 2007 regular season was over.

After a successful stint in the HWB, Lansford entered the 2008 season healthy. He returned to High-A Stockton. At the start of the season, Lansford was a starter, but after two starts during which he allowed eight runs in 8.1 innings, he was converted into a reliever. The new role has suited Lansford well. Through Tuesday, Lansford had a 2.06 ERA and three saves in 35 innings as a reliever. He has a 40:9 K:BB ratio out of the bullpen.

Lansford comes from a baseball family. His father Carney and his uncle Joe were both big league baseball players and his older brother Josh is a prospect for the Chicago Cubs. His father, a former American League batting champion, was a popular member of the Oakland A's from 1983 to 1992. He was an important part of the A's last World Championship team in 1989. Carney is in his first year as a batting coach for the San Francisco Giants.

We spoke to Jared Lansford last weekend in Stockton about his injury struggles in 2007, his conversion to the bullpen, his experiences in Hawaii, seeing his father in a Giants' uniform and more…

OaklandClubhouse: How has the transition to the bullpen been going for you? You have been pitching really well out of the ‘pen.

Jared Lansford: It is totally a difference experience from starting. Knowing that you have the possibility of pitching everyday is pretty cool. Trying to go out there and pick-up the starting pitcher – as a former starter, I know how important that is to have someone come in after you and get guys out – so it's nice to be out there and be dependable.

Lansford's father Carney played for the A's for 10 seasons. He retired from baseball with a .290 career major league average.
OC: Do you have a different approach as a pitcher when you know that you are going to throw maybe two or three innings at most instead of starting a game?

JL: It's definitely a different approach. As a starter, you have to save your stamina to go six, seven or eight innings. As a reliever, coming in for only a couple of innings, you can really let it go. You really have a chance to go after it and see who is better: the pitcher or the hitter.

OC: You had to come back from a pretty serious injury last season. What was that rehab process like?

JL: It was bad. We didn't really know what was going on. It took us a couple of months to find out the actual problem. It took about five months to rehab it and finally get back on the hill. They sent me to Hawaii [for the Hawaiian Winter Baseball league] and that was a lot of fun. I was finally able to get some innings in there. Being back healthy this season is definitely better. [laughs]

OC: Did it give you more confidence coming into spring training having thrown those innings in Hawaii?

JL: Yeah, it's definitely better coming back with that experience rather than having that whole season wasted. To at least get some innings under my belt was nice.

OC: What was the Hawaii baseball experience like?

JL: It was great. There were some of the best players in the minor leagues on those teams. Being able to face that caliber of competition was awesome. Especially after not pitching at all during the season, it was great to be challenged. It was a good time over there.

OC: There were some prospects from the Japanese Professional League there, as well, right?

JL: Oh, yeah. They were great guys. They don't speak any English at all, but their translator was pretty much with them all day, so we were able to bond with those players. Those are probably some of the best pitchers I have ever seen. It was fun having those guys on the field with you.

OC: Do you feel like you have a pitch that is working best for you this season?

JL: Coming out of the bullpen, I have been throwing a lot of fastballs. I've been just working to get my velocity back up to where it was before.

OC: I know your dad [former A's third baseman Carney Lansford] is back in the Bay Area again with the San Francisco Giants. Has it been nice to have him close by?

JL: It's nice. On a day when we have a day game, I might head out there and visit him at night. So it is nice to be living close to him for the first time in awhile.

OC: Are there mixed feelings [during the A's-Giants inter-league series]?

JL: To see him in that black-and-orange uniform definitely takes some getting used to. [laughs]

OC: How is your brother [Josh Lansford, a prospect in the Cubs organization] doing?

JL: Good. He's over in Florida playing in the Florida State League.

OC: Do you guys keep in touch during the season?

JL: Definitely. We are in touch pretty much every day or every other day.

OC: The Ports got to go out to the Coliseum for a Tuesday A's game and be introduced to the fans. Was that fun for the team?

JL: Yeah. I actually have played with a couple of guys on that team [the A's]. It's good to see some of the guys over there doing well and to be able to see the coaches and manager of the team was good.

OC: What has the pennant race with San Jose been like these past few weeks [the Ports and Giants finished the first half separated by a game in the standings]?

JL: It's good. It keeps us into the games. Pretty much every game means something. We are just trying to come out here and win every game we can.

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