OAKLAND—This was to be lefthander Brad Kilby's big opportunity.
After an outstanding September callup a year ago, in which he allowed just two runs in 17 innings, Kilby entered the offseason with a real chance to win a job in the Athletics' bullpen.
So Kilby shed fat and toned muscle during his winter workouts, which were orchestrated by A's fitness coordinator Bob Alejo. "I don't want you coming in at 205, 210 (pounds). I want you coming in at 235," Alejo told Kilby. "You get a lot of power from your body."
Kilby reached that target, but his spring training reward was meager. He got knocked around for a 6.75 ERA and earned a ticket back to Triple-A Sacramento.
Back on the farm, Kilby allowed only one run in five appearances and received a quick return trip to the majors.
In retrospect, the 27-year-old wonders if he may have worked too hard. "I battled through a little fatigue in my shoulder (during spring training)," Kilby said. "I went down (to Sacramento) and got a hundred percent healthy and found that swagger that I had last year. I feel like I'm back."
A blue-collar worker who has become a favorite of coaches and fans, Kilby spent five seasons in the system after his selection in the 29th round of the 2005 draft.
The San Jose State alum has an unusual delivery, where he takes the ball far behind his back, then unleashes a 90 mph fastball at the last minute. The ball is so hard for hitters to pick up that A's broadcaster Glen Kuiper nicknamed it the "invis-o-ball."
Kilby watched video from last year and recognized another missing ingredient. "I think the big thing was that I was able to get that swagger, that confidence back," he said. "I've been told I'm kind of a (jerk) on the field. I had to get that back."
With arm strength and swagger restored, he earned a trip back to the majors.
• Dominican righthander Michael Ynoa had oral surgery to remove his wisdom teeth. The bonus baby remained on track to pitch in the Rookie-level Arizona League, his first taste of American competition.
• As May dawned, first baseman Sean Doolittle remained in physical therapy as he attempted to strengthen the muscles around his knees. Tendiniits in both joints limited him to 28 games last year. Younger brother Ryan was rehabbing from arm injuries and was expected to suit up for short-season Vancouver this summer.