09/01/10 8:13 PM ET
September callup excites A's James
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
But the right-handed reliever never got the nod to warm up. Instead, he got a different type of call.
"After the game, [manager] Tony DeFrancesco was giving us a pep talk, saying how everyone was playing well," James said. "He said there were a few guys doing so well that they were going to the big leagues. And then he said my name.
"I was definitely surprised. I don't look too far into the future, especially with the way things have gone. I try to just worry about the present."
It was a moment that had the 28-year-old James still smiling ear-to-ear Wednesday, when he and fellow reliever Ross Wolf joined the A's in New York as the club's first pair of September callups. It was also one he wasted no time in sharing with his brother, Chad, a Marlins 2009 first-round Draft pick who is currently playing Class A ball.
"He's my best friend," James said. "There were a lot of emotions. He was pumped up for me and we were both tearing up a bit."
His brother happens to be responsible for keeping James in the game. James was originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the fifth round of the 2003 Draft and spent five seasons in their organization before being traded to Cincinnati following the 2007 season. The next season brought about elbow problems, leading to limited playing time and a subsequent release -- all of which had James seriously considering his future.
"You never want to take the jersey off your back," James said, "but I was going through a rough time."
He took time out of his offseason to visit with his brother's trainer, who discovered that, despite negative MRI results on his sore arm, the right-handed pitcher had no mobility in his shoulder. Thus, James was able to use that knowledge to work his way back to the mound.
"That was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life, going there," he said. "It really changed my life around. My brother kept telling me to hang in there and keep going, and I did."
James was playing in the independent Northern League at the time the A's signed him to a Minor League contract on June 19, when he was appointed to Double-A Midland. With the Rockhounds, he posted a 2.29 ERA in 12 relief appearances before being promoted to Sacramento, where he did even better with a 1.37 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings.
"The last thing I want to do is walk people," he said. "Just stay with what I've been doing and keep pounding the zone, that's what I want to do."
"It's nice to see a guy like that get a chance to succeed here," Wolf said of James. "He has a good, live arm. He goes after hitters and isn't scared to throw hard. He's a good story."
Wolf, who enjoyed listening to James say, "This is awesome" every five minutes on their Wednesday flight to New York, is hoping to make a lasting impression on the A's after appearing in just four games over a span of six weeks.
"That's the goal," said Wolf, who compiled a 2.45 ERA in those four games. "When I first came up with the Marlins in 2007, I didn't do a good job of that, of proving what I was really capable of. I was only 24 at the time, and I think I've learned a lot since then."
Wolf's return and James' selection was met with the news lefty Cedrick Bowers was outrighted to Sacramento, thus leaving one spot open on the club's 40-man roster.
Braden welcomes what Bronx has in store
NEW YORK -- Dallas Braden is well aware that his Thursday start will likely be met with a rowdy New York bunch, but the A's lefty isn't about to shy away from any of it.
In fact, he's looking forward to it.
Braden's Thursday outing marks the first time he'll face New York since "Get Off My Mound" T-shirts -- inspired by his April run-in with Alex Rodriguez -- made their way into gift shops at the Oakland Coliseum.
Braden insists both he and A-Rod (who is currently on the disabled list) are well past any negative feelings that resulted from their feud, but he's pretty sure Yankees fans will do their best to offer a healthy diet of boos.
"I'm sure they'll be their normal New York selves," Braden said this week. "I wouldn't expect anything else -- should be interesting to see what they come up with."
Braden, tied for seventh in the American League in wins since the All-Star break, is 1-1 with a 5.87 ERA in five career appearances -- two of them starts -- against New York. He came out of April's dramatic start against A-Rod and Co. a winner, allowing two runs on six hits and a walk with two strikeouts in six innings.
The A's lefty plans on bringing his normal approach against a Yankees team that has dominated Oakland starting pitchers this year. Entering Wednesday's game, A's hurlers had compiled a 3.47 season ERA -- second best in the Majors -- but a 7.41 mark when facing New York.
"They're a patient bunch," Braden said. "I don't need any motivation to throw strikes, though. That's what I always set out to do. That's the key in my game."
Lefty Craig Breslow said he raised about $12,000 at Wednesday's charity luncheon in the confines of Yankee Stadium's NYY Steak restaurant for his Strike 3 Foundation, which supports and raises funds for childhood cancer research. Nearly a dozen A's players, along with the Yankees' Joba Chamberlain and Curtis Granderson, were on hand for the event. ... The A's allowed a combined 20 runs on Monday and Tuesday, marking the most they've allowed in consecutive games since July 3-4, 2009. ... Both the A's and Rangers finished the month of August with a 13-15 record, thus marking no loss or gain for Oakland in the American League West. ... Daric Barton entered Wednesday's contest having reached base safely via hit or walk in each of his last 16 games. He has walked twice in each of his last four games, matching the longest streak of consecutive multiwalk games in Oakland history.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.