San Francisco Chronicle

Martínez tweaks delivery to aid control

- By Matt Kawahara Reach Matt Kawahara: mkawahara@sfchronicl­

MESA, Ariz. — When Adrián Martínez watched video of his starts for the Oakland Athletics last season, the righthande­r saw the same thing the team did: As he delivered a pitch and followed through, he often “fell off” the mound toward first base.

Doing so affected Martínez's command, particular­ly of his tailing fastball. So for Martínez, who posted a 6.24 ERA in 12 outings as a rookie in 2022, adjusting his mechanics to be more direct toward home plate was an offseason assignment.

The A's got an up-close look at the results Saturday morning as Martínez faced hitters in a live batting practice, the first of Oakland's camp, on the main field at Hohokam Stadium. Afterward, manager Mark Kotsay and pitching coach Scott Emerson gave favorable reviews.

“Anytime he was going to the glove-side a lot (last season), the ball came back” toward the hitter, said Emerson. He said Martínez focused on “staying on-line (toward home) a little bit longer, using the ground to stay behind his fastball better, which hopefully makes his slider and changeup that much more appealing to the hitter as everything tunnels down the same lane.”

Martínez threw two simulated innings totaling about 40 pitches and said it was his second time facing hitters this spring. He is ramping up earlier than other A's starters as he prepares for next month's World Baseball Classic. He's slated to join Team Mexico, whose rotation includes Julio Urías (Dodgers), Patrick Sandoval (Angels) and José Urquidy (Astros).

“I am very proud of being part of that team and selected,” Martínez, who is from Mexicali, said through interprete­r Ramón Hernández. “For me, it's a big happiness to represent my country.”

Martínez, acquired from the Padres in the Sean Manaea trade last April, is one of a number of young starters who could compete for rotation spots in A's camp. But general manager David Forst has said WBC absences will not affect the A's evaluation of Martínez or Jordan Diaz, an infield candidate, for roster spots.

“I think if I pitch the best way in the WBC, they're going to be looking at that and take account of that,” Martínez said.

The A's aren't sure if Martínez will be a starter or reliever for Mexico but plan to build him up to three innings and 55 pitches before he leaves camp, Kotsay said.

They're also keeping an eye on Martínez's tempo this spring. Called up to make his MLB debut last May in Detroit, Martínez worked quickly for 5 1⁄3 scoreless innings in a spotstart. He seemed to have a more deliberate pace in later call-ups, a potential issue now with MLB adding a pitch timer. The A's timed Martínez on Saturday and clocked just one violation, Kotsay said.

 ?? Scott Strazzante/The Chronicle ?? On Saturday, Adrian Martínez became the first A’s pitcher to throw live batting practice in spring training.
Scott Strazzante/The Chronicle On Saturday, Adrian Martínez became the first A’s pitcher to throw live batting practice in spring training.

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