After stellar spring, Graveman endures rough outings

Righty allows six runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings in loss to Astros

After stellar spring, Graveman endures rough outings

OAKLAND -- Kendall Graveman endured yet another rough outing Saturday afternoon against the Astros in a 9-3 A's loss. The right-hander, who allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings, will continue to work through ongoing struggles, but it remains unclear how much longer he'll be able to do so at the big league level.

Graveman has allowed 15 earned runs in 16 1/3 innings over his first four starts and has completed five innings in just one of them. In Spring Training, he yielded one earned run in 25 1/3 innings.

"He's a command guy that usually isn't in the middle of the plate, usually on the corners with subtle movement, and he's having a tough time finding that in the fashion we saw in Spring Training at this point," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "So, it's a little bit of a concern now."

Melvin didn't say whether Graveman's next outing would come with the A's, who could look to give Jesse Chavez another start in his place. Either way, there's work to be done leading up to it.

"I'm getting on the side of the baseball again, not getting on top of it. Throwing the ball out front," said Graveman. "I've been working hard the past two weeks to get that movement back. It's just not showing up. It's here one pitch, not there the next, and just early movement out of the hand instead of late. I'm really fighting to find that again. It's one of those things, I felt good all Spring Training, and we talk about it over and over and over, but just fighting trying to get back to the consistency."

"He's just a tick off," said catcher Stephen Vogt. "You saw it today. He made so many quality pitches, and all of a sudden, one mistake and he gets hit. Quality pitch, quality pitch, mistake, gets hit.

"Right now, he's not getting the downward movement that he was getting and has been getting when he's on. There are a lot of guys on this team that have contact fastballs that aren't getting contact on them right now, and that shows you that they're not getting the depth on them, and Kendall's one of them."

Graveman was touched for four runs in the first two innings, the big blow Jose Altuve's three-run home run to left field on a 1-0 cutter. Graveman retired nine of his next 10 batters, before finding trouble again, offering up three consecutive hits ahead of his departure.

Altuve's three-run homer

He gave up nine hits, the majority in the air. Even most of the sinkerballer's outs came in the air, with just three groundball outs.

Afterward, he said: "That game's on me."

"You try to make an adjustment, and then you do too much, and then you overcorrect. There's a little bit of that going on, but he still has unbelievable stuff," said Vogt. "He's a great pitcher. He's going to turn it around."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.