A's Straily Finds A New Offseason Routine

OAKLAND—When Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin get together, one topic is taboo: shoes.

And they are both glad for that. Last winter, both were selling shoes for offseason jobs. This winter, they were both preparing to contend for positions in the Athletics' big league rotation—where they finished 2012—as they head to major league spring training for the first time.

"This winter, our jobs are baseball instead of having to spend 30 to 40 hours a week doing something else," said Straily, who worked at sporting goods store in Eugene, Ore., last winter. "(We were able) to focus on working out and getting ready for the long season instead of being distracted with everything else going on."

Straily, 24, led the minor leagues with 190 strikeouts last year, as he moved from Double-A to Triple-A, then got a shot at the majors. The big difference came when he developed a lethal changeup last spring.

"I feel a lot more confident this year because I didn't go into spring training last year with the changeup that I have," Straily said. "It took me the first five or six starts at Double-A before the change came. It didn't come until May of last year, and it showed me how fast one pitch can take off, and it can take over a season for me."

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound righthander combined to go 9-7, 2.78 in 25 minor league starts, then went 2-1, 3.89 for Oakland. The change was the big difference, and he began throwing it again during workouts in Eugene in late January, at the indoor facility at the University of Oregon.

"The first one I threw went between the catcher's legs," he said with a laugh. "I think that's a pretty good sign."

He did not make the Oakland postseason roster, instead going to instructional league to work out and prepare, in case he was needed for the second round.

Straily has remained diligent and focused during the offseason. At Griffin's suggestion, he took up yoga. "I don't know if it's working, but my muscles aren't tight all the time," he said.

A's Acorns

• Shortstop Addison Russell, 19, was invited to attend big league spring training, which is something of a big deal since it was not stipulated in the contract signed by the A's first-round pick last year.

• Oakland manager Bob Melvin wouldn't commit to deciding the second base situation at the A's FanFare event. Scott Sizemore appears the top candidate, but the field will be open to Jemile Weeks, Adam Rosales and Grant Green.