04/14/07 9:52 PM ET
Notes: Gaudin finds comfort zone
A's right-hander using changeup more as starting pitcher
By Ryan Quinn / Special to MLB.com
But Gaudin has no intention of hiding behind a Lazy-Boy in the clubhouse and firing a paint ball gun at fellow hunting partner Alan Embree.
The right-handed pitcher from Harahan, La., started wearing the gear about two years ago to relieve some pressure he was feeling during his early twenties.
"I did it because I love to hunt and I was kind of messed up in the head from getting traded and getting taken off waivers," said the 24-year-old Gaudin. "I was just going through a whole bunch of different things at a young age. I just couldn't understand why."
Gaudin came into the big leagues on Aug. 1, 2003, as the youngest player in Devils Rays history at age 20. He made the Opening Day roster in 2004, but as things sometimes go with young hurlers, he was sent to Triple-A Durham after 14 games and a 3.00 ERA.
Gaudin was then traded to Toronto at the end of 2004 and split time between the Blue Jays and Triple-A Syracuse. Gaudin needed a way to keep his mind on an even keel, and camouflage ended up being his crutch.
"I told myself, 'You know what? I'm just going to play ball,'" Gaudin said. "I finally came to that point where [he told himself,] don't worry about what I can't change.
"When I wear camo, it keeps me grounded. It brings me back home in a sense. It told me that this is a game and to not put so much pressure on myself."
Since being traded to the A's at the end of 2005, Gaudin has pitched just four games with Triple-A Sacramento. He went 3-0 with a 0.37 ERA. After coming out of the bullpen for 55 games last season, he was given the chance to start again when Esteban Loaiza when down late in Spring Training with a bulging disk in his back.
Gaudin has definitely excelled in his role with a 2.53 ERA in two starts against the Angels and White Sox. He was rewarded on Friday when A's manager Bob Geren named him Tuesday's starter against the Angels over Joe Kennedy. The change was made because of the days off on Thursday and Monday and wanting to keep starters Dan Haren, Joe Blanton and Rich Harden on normal rest.
Gaudin said the key to his success early this year is a changeup that he didn't have when he started in Toronto and Tampa Bay and used sparingly in relief last year.
"I was always a great starter in Triple-A," Gaudin said. "But when I got called up, I never had a pitch to keep left-handers off balance. I had to rely on two pitches to start, and that's tough to do. I finally learned a changeup and it's kind of working for me. It allows me to keep the hitters honest."
Lefties hit .253 against him in 2006 and .261 this year, compared to .403 in 2004.
"He's been tough," said catcher Jason Kendall. "He's made the adjustment, things have been going well. You definitely need [a third pitch] when starting. He's doing a good job keeping the ball down."
Injury updates: Second baseman Mark Ellis was out of the lineup on Saturday with a bruised trapezius muscle. Ellis was hit in the upper back on a fastball from Yankees reliever Brian Bruney on Friday in the 11th inning.
Geren said he is hoping that Ellis will be back in the lineup for Sunday's game, but isn't sure because it is a day game after a night game.
Milton Bradley, who tweaked his hamstring on Tuesday, was not in the lineup either and is still listed as day-to-day. Geren anticipated that Bradley would be ready by Tuesday after the off-day on Monday, but didn't rule out Sunday, which happens to be Bradley's birthday.
This and that: During Geren's daily meeting with the media, he was asked whether he thought the cold weather around the nation had contributed to the lack of offense around the league. "In general, when it's cold, it favors the pitcher a lot more," Geren said. "It's not fun hitting when it's 10 degrees. It's a chore. You have to hit the ball perfectly, and you feel bumblebees in your wrist. The ball doesn't carry as much either." ... Rookie Travis Buck's swing has often been compared to that of former A's Jason Giambi's, and Geren mistakenly referred to his right fielder as Jason Buck before Saturday's game. ... Triple-A Sacramento won on Friday, 6-1, as righty Colby Lewis held Tacoma to one run over six innings. Hiram Bocachica had an RBI double and extended his hit streak to nine games.
Up next: The A's will close out their three-game series with the Yankees on Sunday as Harden gets the ball against Andy Pettitte. The first pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. PT.
Ryan Quinn is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.