Bowers' Travels Prepare Him For Life In A's Bullpen





OAKLAND—When just about anyone watches lefthander Cedrick Bowers pitch, they come away with the same question:

Why hasn't the well-traveled 32-year-old been in the big leagues for years?

"When we had him down here, a guy who had that kind of stuff, we couldn't understand why he only had 11 days in the big leagues," farm director Keith Lieppman said. "He had all the equipment.

"We were baffled that a guy with stuff that good did not have a long major league career."

Bowers, who signed a minor league deal with Oakland after spending the 2009 season with the Phillies' Triple-A club, had accumulated 17 strikeouts and five walks through 13 relief innings.

The Athletics promoted Bowers from Triple-A Sacramento in early June after he struck out 13 batters per nine innings in the minors. "Now I'm here," he said, "and I want to stay."

With a fastball that touches 93 mph and a plus curve, Bowers has the stuff to make it as a lefty reliever. "It's all about throwing strikes," Lieppman said.

When Bowers joined the A's, he worked with Sacramento pitching coach Ricky Rodriguez and roving pitching instructor Gil Patterson on tightening his curveball.

"We came up with the idea of dropping him to a lower arm angle to get more deception on the breaking ball," Patterson said.

Bowers got the call when the big league bullpen broke down. "It's a feeling that you can't really describe," he said.

It has been a long, long road for Bowers, Tampa Bay's fourth-round pick out of high school in 1996. He spent eight seasons in the Rays system, the last three at Triple-A Durham. The problem was always control, missing spots. He walked 5.1 batters per nine with the Bulls.

He was so close, yet the call never came. So Bowers accepted an offer to pitch in the Far East, three years in Japan, beginning in 2004, and another in Korea.

"Going over there helped me learn how to pitch, moving the ball in and out, up and down," Bowers said. "Over there, it's all about contact, putting the ball in play.

"You've got to vary all you're pitches. Your fastball's got to be down. (Plus) you've got turf infields, so the fields play pretty fast."

So armed with a better understanding of pitching, Bowers signed with the Rockies for 2008. He got his first big league shot in July, but he allowed 10 runs in five games before being sent down.

A's ACORNS

• First baseman Sean Doolittle could be facing further knee surgery after an initial procedure did not produce the desired result. He last played May 8, 2009, for Sacramento.

• Second baseman Jemile Weeks returned from a leg injury to rehab in the Rookie-level Arizona League in early July. He likely will participate in winter ball to make up for lost time.