OAKLAND -- Years from now, after his career is over, Liam Hendriks is going to have quite a story to tell. For now, the right-hander will settle for being a key member of the A's pitching staff as they enter the home stretch in their bid for a spot in
OAKLAND -- Years from now, after his career is over, Liam Hendriks is going to have quite a story to tell. For now, the right-hander will settle for being a key member of the A's pitching staff as they enter the home stretch in their bid for a spot in the playoffs.
Hendriks career was on life support after being designated for assignment by Oakland in late July. When he cleared waivers -- a sign that no other team in baseball wanted him -- Hendriks joined Triple-A Nashville and rediscovered his fastball.
The rest, as the story goes, is history.
With the A's starting rotation depleted by a rash of injuries, Hendriks was pressed into overtime the past eight days. He started all three games when Oakland resorted to bullpenning -- starting a reliever for one inning then mixing and matching the rest of the way -- and also made a relief appearance in Saturday's 8-6 win over the Texas Rangers.
That gave the 29-year-old Australian quite the stat line: Three starts and one relief appearance in an eight-day span. It could be the first time that's happened in modern baseball history.
"You look back at that, and without any context, you'd be like, 'What's this guy doing? Did they not have anybody else?'" Hendriks said Sunday. "I'm just happy to be pitching. Happy to be getting innings. That's all I want. All I want to do is pitch. I need to prove to these guys that I'm back and healthy and I'm ready to contribute."
Hendriks is in a much different place than he was 2 1/2 months ago, when it seemed like his big league career might be over. He had missed most of April and all of May with a strained groin and when he returned, the velocity on his fastball had dipped noticeably. Three weeks after rejoining the team, he was DFA'd to make room for Edwin Jackson.
While down in the Minors, Hendriks tinkered with his mechanics but made his most progress while throwing off flat ground and playing long toss.
"He's throwing a lot harder," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. "When we DFA'd him, he was throwing 90-91, maybe 92 mph. He speaks about a new throwing program and playing long toss. That has certainly translated well for him. He's throwing like he did a couple years ago, throwing upwards of 97 mph and he's a different guy when he does that. He's doing a nice job for us."
Hendriks struggled in his first attempt at starting, when he allowed two runs in 1 2/3 innings and took the loss against Seattle on Sept. 1, though it came after Hendriks had traveled across the country on a pair of early morning flights to get to Oakland.
He was much more effective in his next two starts, throwing scoreless innings against the New York Yankees on Sept. 4 and the Texas Rangers on Sept. 7. Then came his scoreless inning of relief against Texas on Saturday.
"Opening to me is just relieving at a different point in the game," Hendriks said. "I'm not changing my mindset. I'm not changing anything. I'm just going out there and instead of it being the sixth or seventh or eighth or ninth, it's just the first. I'm going to face the same guys as I would in a relief appearance.
"I'm not changing anything up. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel. I'm going out there and I've got three guys to get and those three guys I'm going to get."
• Brett Anderson checked out well a day after throwing three 15-pitch innings in a simulated game. That clears the left-hander to rejoin the A's on their upcoming road trip. Melvin said Anderson is being considered to possibly start Wednesday or Thursday in Baltimore.
• Outfielder Nick Martini and right-hander Ryan Dull were recalled from Nashville. Martini started in left field on Sunday and was ninth in the batting order.
Michael Wagaman is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.