Brandon Moss was playing in the Phillies organization in 2011 when the Phils promoted a struggling hitter from Double-A to Triple-A.
The hitter was Joe Savery, a former first-round draft pick who was giving hitting a try after what Savery himself describes as “three very average years’’ as a pitcher. Savery had once thrown in the mid-90s, but when he was moved, he was hitting about 86-87 on the radar gun.
Change came after the Phillies’ Triple-A team, Lehigh Valley, found itself locked in a mid-season extra inning 2011 game when they ran out of pitchers. In desperation they turned to Savery, their 6-3, 235-pound first baseman/outfielder.
“He got in there and he just lit it up,’’ Moss recalled Tuesday. “He was throwing 94, 95. That was about the end of the hitting for him.’’
Savery remembers that game clearly. It changed the course of his career. The former pitcher was a pitcher once more.
And he and Moss are teammates again after the A’s claimed Savery on waivers from the Phillies, who had to clear roster space after signing A.J. Burnett.
“I knew he would be claimed by someone pretty quickly,’’ Moss said of Savery being made available by the Phillies. “I think it’s a great addition for us. I’ve seen him thrown 97 (mph). I don’t know if he’s still doing that, though.’’
Savery said that while he was flattered by Moss’s words, he generally pitches “between 90 and 93 mph most of the time.’’
At least he’s not back throwing 86 anymore.
“Most of the pitches I throw cut a lot; it’s not all about velocity,’’ Savery said. “I’m able to keep the ball down and get some ground balls.’’
He says because of that he’s not a typical eighth- or ninth-inning pitcher, but eight of his 18 appearances last year saw him finish up for the Phillies. He was 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA.
Manager Bob Melvin said the addition of Savery will bring depth as the A’s look for a second lefty behind Sean Doolittle until another newcomer, Eric O’Flaherty, has recovered from Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery.
“Moss tells me he’s seen him dominate like Doolittle,’’ Melvin said. “We’d take another Doolittle.’’
–Fernando Abad could take offense at the addition of Savery if he wanted to, because the A’s traded a minor league outfielder, John Wooten, to Washington to bring Abad to Oakland with the hope that he’d be the short-term answer to the A’s left-handed needs in the bullpen.
Long-term the A’s think they’re OK with their left-handers, because they have Sean Doolittle and because O’Flaherty has a history of dominance in the later innings, and he’s supposed to be ready to pitch mid-season.
Abad was 0-3 with a 3.35 ERA in 39 games with the Nationals last year, allowing just 10 walks and three homers in 37.2 innings last year.
“I was surprised,’’ Abad said Tuesday. “This is a good opportunity here, and it’s my goal to show them I can do it. I thought I did a pretty good job with the Nationals, so the trade I didn’t expect.’’
And he didn’t particularly expect the added competition for the bullpen from Savery, although he shrugged it off, saying “it’s the business of baseball.’’
“It will be OK,’’ Abad said. “My goal is just to help my team.’’