PHOENIX — Despite getting hurt late last season, A.J. Griffin has already shown he can handle a heavy workload for the Oakland Athletics.
Now, he wants to keep pitching deep into October.
The 26-year-old right-hander threw 200 innings in 2013, his first full season in the majors. He went 14-10 with a 3.83 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 32 starts as Oakland won its second straight AL West title.
Griffin was durable until late in the season, when he was unable to pitch in the playoffs against Detroit due to tendinitis in his right elbow. Had the A’s reached the AL championship series, he thinks he would have recovered sufficiently to be added to the active roster.
“We were really close. I thought for sure we were going to get there,” Griffin said.
This year, Griffin again has a firm grip on a spot in manager Bob Melvin’s rotation. He threw his second bullpen of the spring Monday and said he feels no discomfort.
“I felt really good today. I’m optimistic,” said Griffin, a 13th-round draft pick by the A’s in 2010 out of the University of San Diego. “It’s a gradual buildup. You raise your pitch count. It’s a process.”
He would like to reach 200 innings again.
“That’s pretty much every starter’s goal, to pitch as many innings as they can and have a quality outing,” he said. “Last year was pretty nice, my first full season, to pitch as many innings as I did. I felt fortunate.”
Griffin has four quality pitches: a four-seam fastball, curve, changeup and cutter.
“I’m a guy who adds and subtracts, hits his spots, pounds the zone. You want to try to force the early contact, let your defense work for you,” he said.
But not too much contact. Griffin gave up 36 home runs last season, tops in the majors.
“There’s always room for improvement, things you can work on,” he said. “Everybody has stuff they can work on, except for maybe Clayton Kershaw. His numbers were ridiculous.”
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Griffin grew up in San Diego and has long, surfer-type locks — but doesn’t spend much time at the beach. He does listen to some modern beach culture rock bands like Slightly Stoopid, and plays the guitar.
But when he’s on the mound, he is more intense.
“I’ve worked a lot on staying focused, not letting the game get to me,” he said.
Melvin likes Griffin’s attitude and thinks the right-hander has the potential to pile up innings for his staff.
“He’s looked that way since he’s been here,” Melvin said. “He has that mindset of, I want to be the only guy with the ball today.”
NOTES: Oakland claimed LHP Joe Savery off waivers from Philadelphia. To make room on the 40-man roster, the A’s moved LHP Eric O’Flaherty to the 60-day disabled list. The 28-year-old Savery was 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA and two saves in 18 relief appearances for the Phillies last season. … The A’s tweaked their roster this offseason, and Melvin noticed other teams in the AL West have added significant pieces in an effort to keep up. “They have tried to match what we do,” he said. “First it was Albert Pujols and then Josh Hamilton (signed by the Angels). Now it’s Robinson Cano (Mariners).” … The A’s use yoga exercises to stretch each day during the spring. “A lot of guys have benefited from it. Hopefully, they stay loose and develop good habits,” Melvin said.