MESA, Ariz. — Jesse Hahn threw three scoreless innings Thursday in a 5-1 A’s victory over the Texas Rangers, a strong early statement in his bid for Oakland’s fifth starter spot.
The right-hander became the first A’s starter to complete three innings in the early going of the Cactus League schedule. After giving up Delino DeShields’ single to lead off the game, Hahn struck out three in a row to end the first and followed up with a 1-2-3 second. He stranded a runner on third in his final inning and finished with three hits allowed and zero walks. “I’m just going out there to compete,” Hahn said. “That’s my goal this spring is to get a spot in the rotation, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to try to achieve that.”
Catcher Stephen Vogt liked the four-pitch mix Hahn had going with his fastball, curve, changeup and slider, and manager Bob Melvin was pleased with Hahn’s work out of the stretch, noting the right-hander utilized his slide step occasionally without any signal from the dugout.
“He did some really good things today in the stretch, was quicker to the plate,” Melvin said. “He threw his breaking pitches out of the stretch for strikes. I thought he threw the ball really well.”
But the No. 5 starter battle is no runaway. Raul Alcantara, who is out of minor league options, pitched in relief and gave up one run over three innings, striking out two and walking one.
If those two remain on the same turn pitching, Melvin said he’ll probably flip-flop them at some point so Alcantara gets a chance to make a start. Andrew Triggs is another primary contender to be the fifth starter.
NOTEWORTHY: Two veteran relievers were slated to make their exhibition debuts Thursday, but only one did.
John Axford looked rusty with his command, walking two in his inning of work but emerging unscored upon with help from a double-play grounder. That will be his only outing before he leaves Sunday to join Team Canada for the World Baseball Classic.
Ryan Madson’s debut was pushed back because he’s experiencing some “general arm soreness” according to Melvin, who didn’t sound overly concerned.
The A’s still don’t have a firm read on when Santiago Casilla will arrive, due to a prolonged visa process in the Dominican Republic.
If you’re wondering where Thursday’s good news was regarding the A’s four options for closer, it came with Sean Doolittle, who felt very encouraged after a 30-pitch bullpen session in which he threw his slider and changeup for the first time in camp. He said he’ll throw at least one more time off the mound before possibly getting into a game.
PROSPECT WATCH: Reliever Frankie Montas also made his Cactus League debut, throwing two scoreless innings and hitting 97 and 98 on the radar gun, according to Melvin. Montas has been brought along slowly this spring coming off an injury-plagued season. The A’s plan to get a look at him as a starter, though his pitch count is unlikely to be built up enough to where he draws a spring training start.
ICYMI: Axford recalled in vivid detail the chaos of being in the middle of the Canada-Mexico brawl in the 2013 WBC. Also, check out this feature on catcher Bruce Maxwell, who has enjoyed his stint as a volunteer coach for a Phoenix-area high school team.
ODDS AND ENDS: The A’s got all the offense they would need in a two-run first against the Rangers. Rajai Davis lined a single and scored on Marcus Semien’s RBI double. Ryon Healy’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0. … Jaycob Brugman started in left field and had a two-run single in the sixth.