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Cahill fine-tuning cutter as spring rolls on

@RhettBollinger
March 9, 2019

TEMPE, Ariz. -- In his 21 starts with the A's last season, Trevor Cahill never allowed two homers in a game and only served up eight all season. So it was a rare occurrence on Saturday when Cahill opened the game with back-to-back homers, to Eric Thames and Christian Yelich,

TEMPE, Ariz. -- In his 21 starts with the A's last season, Trevor Cahill never allowed two homers in a game and only served up eight all season. So it was a rare occurrence on Saturday when Cahill opened the game with back-to-back homers, to Eric Thames and Christian Yelich, during a 5-1 loss to the Brewers.

But Cahill settled down from there, as those were the only two hits he allowed over 3 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked one.

“I felt pretty good, but those two pitches I wish I had back,” Cahill said. “But other than that, I felt good. I mixed in all my pitches and threw some cutters, which is something I’ve been working on.”

As Cahill noted, he's trying to incorporate a cutter into his arsenal that already includes a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. But he was candid in his assessment of the pitch, as it's been a work in progress.

“I throw one good one and then 10 bad ones,” Cahill said. “It’s just about getting it ready for a game. At first, throwing it on flat ground, I felt like I got a pretty good idea of how to use it and what it was doing. But off the mound, it was not as good. But it’s been better in bullpens, and the next step is for it to be better in games. You have that next level and next gear and you have to learn to throw it with all that adrenaline and stuff.”

Ohtani not expected to return early
With Shohei Ohtani beginning his throwing program this week, Angels manager Brad Ausmus said Ohtani will not be ready to return before May. Ohtani, who had Tommy John surgery Oct. 1, has been hitting in soft-toss drills and needs to advance to batting practice and live batting practice before he’s ready to return as a designated hitter.

The Angels have targeted a May return for Ohtani. There was speculation he could be ready to return early, but Ausmus confirmed Ohtani’s throwing program will keep him on track to make his debut in May. Ohtani’s current program has him throwing every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“That won’t happen,” Ausmus said of Ohtani potentially returning early. “I just don’t see that happening. There’s a program in place to get him ready by sometime in May. You have to get at-bats to start DHing for a Major League club.”

Suarez dealing with shoulder soreness
Left-handed pitching prospect Jose Suarez has been dealing with shoulder soreness, but Ausmus said the injury is considered minor. Suarez, ranked as the club’s No. 5 prospect by MLB Pipeline, has appeared in just one game this spring, throwing a scoreless inning against the Rockies on Feb. 27.

Suarez, 21, is considered close to being Major League ready but will open the season at Triple-A Salt Lake. He posted a 3.92 ERA with 142 strikeouts, 44 walks and five homers allowed in 117 innings across three levels last season, including Triple-A.

“We’re in a situation where there’s no rush to get him ready,” Ausmus said. “So we’re holding him off from throwing until he’s symptom-free.”

Up next
Left-hander Tyler Skaggs (1-1, 9.64 ERA) will make his third start of the spring on Sunday, when the Angels host the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium at 12:10 p.m. PT. Skaggs was solid last time out, allowing one earned run over three innings against the Cubs and settled down after a rocky first inning. Mike Leake starts for Seattle.

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.