Friday, July 3, 2009

The Big `D' of the A's

I had the privilege to spend a day with Oakland A’s left-handed pitcher Dallas Braden last Sunday for a freelance article I’m doing for the next issue of A’s Magazine. I was with him from the time he left his house in Stockton that morning to go to the Oakland Coliseum to the time he left a Stockton Ports game at Banner Island Ballpark that night to go home.

I saw how generous Braden was with his time and his fans. For example, more fans were flocking to him on Sunday night than to Roger Clemens, who was sitting with his wife, Debbie, about 30 feet away watching their son, Koby, catch for Lancaster against the Ports.

I saw the softer side of Braden. I did not see the harder side.

“He’s actually a complex guy,” A’s manager Bob Geren told me. “At some points, he varies his answers to me `Yes, sir’ `No, sir.’ At other times he’s very funny or very quiet.

“I’ve seen all of the angles of him but the one thing he is when he’s in the game is as fierce of a competitor as I’ve seen and tough. I’ve never seen a guy get hit with a 106 mph line drive (off the bat of Toronto’s Vernon Wells on May 10) right in the pitching hand and just stay in the game. I’ve never seen that and I don’t think I ever will again.”

In other words, Braden deserves a big hand either way.


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