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Fiers: 'I could start the season in my next start'

A's right-hander ready to roll after another solid spring outing
@MartinJGallegos
March 10, 2020

MESA, Ariz. -- There are still a couple of weeks to go until Opening Day. But the way Mike Fiers is feeling on the mound, he’s ready for the regular season to begin now. Making his fourth Cactus League start, Fiers came out attacking the Royals early and often in

MESA, Ariz. -- There are still a couple of weeks to go until Opening Day. But the way Mike Fiers is feeling on the mound, he’s ready for the regular season to begin now.

Making his fourth Cactus League start, Fiers came out attacking the Royals early and often in Tuesday’s 4-2 loss at Hohokam Stadium. While the strategy backfired a bit as Nicky Lopez took him deep for a solo shot just two pitches in, Fiers settled in to complete five innings, striking out three with three runs (two earned) allowed on five hits and a walk.

“I feel good at this point,” Fiers said. “I could start the season in my next start and feel like I would be fine.”

The final line may look rather pedestrian on the surface compared to his previous outing of four scoreless innings against the Dodgers, but what has Fiers feeling confident about his stuff right now is his ability to throw strikes with all his pitches. Of his 74 offerings on Tuesday, 57 went for strikes, including first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 22 batters he faced.

Fiers put a cherry on top of his outing by ending it with a strikeout of reigning American League home run king Jorge Soler. The right-hander put Soler away with a fastball up in the zone, getting a bit of revenge after the slugger collected a pair of doubles against him earlier in the day.

“A lot of strikes with all his pitches and that’s what you want to see right now,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s getting a better feel at this point in time. He threw his curveball for a strike, his cutter, his changeup. Pretty similar to his last time out.”

Fiers will take the mound again on Sunday against the Padres and likely get his workload upped to around 90 pitches. After getting the Opening Day honors last year, Fiers has done nothing to deter the A’s from giving him the nod again, though Frankie Montas has also made his case, having yet to allow a run over three outings this spring.

Whether Fiers starts the Opening Day matinee against the Twins on March 26 is of little importance to him.

“Whoever gets it, we all have to pitch and do our job come our day,” Fiers said. “I’m gonna be ready whenever they tell me. Opening Day is another game that we have to win. It’s just like any other day. You want to try to keep the nerves out of it and the excitement down. Just play your game no matter what day it is.”

Machin makes most of opportunity
Battling for one of the final spots on the roster, Vimael Machin’s playing time has mostly been limited, but he continues to hit. His lone at-bat on Tuesday resulted in an eighth-inning single, bringing his Cactus League batting average to .333.

Machin is showing an ability to stay productive even with limited at-bats, a trait that would be necessary were he to make the Opening Day roster in a reserve role.

“We’re finding out that he’s got an advanced bat and good idea of the strike zone,” Melvin said. “If he’s on the team, there won’t be a ton of at-bats, at least to start. Are you able to come off the bench, pinch-hit, swing the bat without consistent at-bats? He’s showing us he can do exactly that.”

Up next
Left-hander Sean Manaea will make his fourth Cactus League start in a 1:10 p.m. PT tilt with the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Wednesday. Manaea continues to work on improving his slider before the start of the regular season. Jose Suarez is scheduled to start for Los Angeles. Fans can watch the game on MLB.TV or MLB Network or listen via A's Cast.

Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.