Athletics

Daniel Mengden ready to prove himself after starting season in minors

Daniel Mengden ready to prove himself after starting season in minors

OAKLAND — No one wants to start the season in the minor leagues. Especially not someone like Daniel Mengden, who has already achieved some success at the major league level.

Unfortunately, that's the situation the A's 26-year-old right-handed pitcher found himself in back in March. Oakland optioned Mengden to Triple-A Las Vegas and named Aaron Brooks as the No. 5 starter to begin the season.

"I wasn't too happy about it, but it's one of those things where you kind of just suck it up and deal with it," Mengden told NBC Sports California. "I knew I was going to be back eventually. My mindset going down was, what can I do to get better and how can I work on whatever I need to get back up here?"

Mengden performed well in Las Vegas, going 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. He was rewarded with a call-up earlier this month and will make his fourth start Wednesday afternoon against the Angels.

"He pitched really well (in Triple-A)," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He pitched well last year. He pitched really well at times the year before. He has the ability to go deep in games. ... It's just about consistency for him because, when he's on, he's really good. He's a younger pitcher still but we like him a lot.

"Hopefully, he pitches well enough to stay because, when he's pitching well, he's about as good as anybody we have."

Last season, Mengden went 7-6 with a 4.05 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 22 games, including 17 starts. He put up even better numbers in seven starts the year before, going 3-2 with a 3.14 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.

Mengden's first three outings this year have been a bit of a mixed bag. He struggled with his control in two of the games, walking a combined nine hitters in 9 1/3 innings. Still, he has maintained an ERA of 3.31.

"It's a great opportunity that I have," Mengden said. "I know what I have to do to be successful. It's all about just going out there, getting strike one, and going from there, and having a good plan and executing it."

When Mengden is on his game, you could make the argument that he's the A's best starter, as Melvin noted. In back-to-back starts against Toronto and Arizona last season, Mengden tossed 16 shutout innings, allowing just four hits and one walk. The key for him, as Melvin also pointed out, is consistency.

For now, Mengden is glad to be back in Oakland, and for more than just the obvious reason of being in the majors. The Pacific Coast League in Triple-A is notorious for its hitter-friendly ballparks.

[RELATED: Buchter's a new pitcher following demotion to minors]

"There's nothing better than a good pitcher's park and Oakland might be one of the best, if not the best," Mengden smiled. "Some of the parks (in the PCL) are a little smaller and the ball flies pretty well. We saw some pretty cheap homers down there in Vegas but that's all part of the game. It's part of the ballpark and you have to deal with it."

Now back in the A's rotation, Mengden hopes to avoid those PCL ballparks for the remainder of his career.

Why A's Lou Trivino feels bad for minor league players during MLB halt

Why A's Lou Trivino feels bad for minor league players during MLB halt

Editor's Note: NBC Sports California spoke with Lou Trivino on Friday, May 22, four days before the A's announced they would stop paying $400 weekly stipends to their minor league players for the remainder of the season, and other teams released players.

For reasons of sanity and economy, the return of Major League Baseball this summer is the primary focus of the league and the players' association.

But A’s reliever Lou Trivino also realizes the entire minor league ecosystem would suffer in a multitude of ways, potentially going dormant.

At this point, there are no imminent plans for 242 farm teams and its players across the continent.

“You feel bad for those guys,” Trivino said. “Especially the ones that need the development, that need the reps.”

Most big league players have the advantages of time and accessibility to personal training facilities. They can stay conditioned during shutdowns, without much setback.

But it’s not the same for everyone.

“Some of these minor league guys, they’ve been stuck inside all day and not maybe able to do stuff,” Trivino said. “That really hinders their ability to perform on the field next year.”

Another lesser-discussed aspect to keep an eye on is MLB’s annual amateur draft, which has been reduced from 40 rounds to five rounds.

[RELATED: Braden opposes MLB's proposal]

“You’re not going to see the 11th round guy like myself maybe make it,” Trivino said. “You’re not going to see the late-round guys potentially get that chance and that’s heartbreaking. I’m that guy.”

Trivino started his minor league career in 2013, appearing in 170 games as a starter and reliever at every level, until getting his first chance at the major leagues with Oakland in 2019.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Roy Steele, A's 'Voice of God' and legendary PA announcer, dies at Auburn home

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Roy Steele, A's 'Voice of God' and legendary PA announcer, dies at Auburn home

One does not easily earn the "Voice of God" moniker, but when it came to Roy Steele, nothing else would do. 

The long-time public address announcer for the A's passed away Thursday at his home in Auburn, leaving behind a tremendous legacy as one of the most recognizable voices in the history of the game. The A's released a team statement acknowledging his vast contributions to the history of the franchise.

"As the PA voice of the A’s for nearly four decades, his booming baritone filled the Coliseum from the Mustache Gang to Billy Ball, the Bash Brothers and Moneyball," the statement said. "Beloved by all, he touched the lives of generations of A’s fans. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones."

Steele began his tenure as the A's PA announcer starting in 1968 and remained in the position through 2005, though he did make occasional appearances during the 2007-08 season. He covered over 3,000 A's games, including six World Series and an All-Star Game. Throughout his 38 years at the helm, he only missed five days of work.

[RELATED: A's might have to delay targeted 2023 ballpark opening]

His death comes during a sad week for the Oakland franchise. On Sunday, Chester Farrow, who operated the scoreboard at the Coliseum for over 50 years, passed away at the age of 77.

Whenever MLB resumes, one would imagine both longtime employees will be honored.