GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Ryan Dull rarely draws attention to himself in the A’s clubhouse, so from that standpoint things haven’t really changed since September.
The reliever came up from the minors when rosters expanded last fall, a soft-spoken personality whose youthful looks at first had some teammates thinking he was a batboy. Only when he took the mound did Dull command the spotlight, rattling off an 11-inning scoreless streak over his first eight outings.
Little has changed this spring. Dull is still one of the quieter players on the roster, but his numbers speak loudly. The right-hander hasn’t allowed a run in his first four outings (3 2/3 innings), giving up two hits with five strikeouts and one walk.
As things shape up in Oakland’s bullpen, Dull could still get squeezed out of a 25-man roster spot, particularly if the A’s were to keep Felix Doubront as a long reliever. Regardless, Dull is a pitcher who’s continuing to make good for himself as far as the A’s bullpen picture moving forward.
He’s impressed manager Bob Melvin with his ability to enter a tough situation and keep runs off the board.
“You’re always trying to identify guys you can bring into the game with guys on base, and he established that last year and has continued to do that now,” Melvin said.
Dull posted a 4.24 ERA in 13 appearances throughout September, his numbers inflated by a stretch where he gave up six runs over two outings. Overall, the 26-year-old showed good stuff and impressed his bullpen mates with his poise in his first major league exposure.
“There was never that panic,” reliever Fernando Rodriguez said. “It was like he’d been there before, or he had a plan in his mind of what he was gonna do. He didn’t shy away from hitters.”
Dull found success with good fastball command, which allowed him to get ahead of hitters before he went to his slider for his put-away pitch. This spring, he said he’s trying to sharpen his changeup to make sure it’s a reliable third pitch.
“Having a feel for it and being able to throw it in any count” is the goal, Dull said. “I didn’t use it that much in September. It’ll help me against lefties a little bit, to neutralize them.”
Melvin believes Dull’s temperament is as big a key for him as his stuff.
“You can’t tell if he’s had a good day or a bad day,” Melvin said. “He is very level in what he does. There’s really no emotion, whether he’s given something up or he’s striking out the side.”