Hahn trying to prove his worth in Triple-A

Hahn trying to prove his worth in Triple-A

NEW YORK -- With results comes confidence, and right-hander Jesse Hahn has discovered both in a hurry during an unexpected stay in the Minor Leagues.

The 26-year-old Hahn, demoted to Triple-A Nashville during the final week of exhibition play, has responded to the surprising move with a pair of excellent outings; his ERA has yet to budge from zero after two starts with the Sounds.

"I feel really good, just kind of being patient now and continuing to do everything that I've been doing, just working hard and pitching the way I've always pitched and waiting my turn," Hahn said Monday as he prepared to board a flight to Colorado Springs, Colo., in preparation for his next start.

"To be honest, I really haven't changed anything. I'm still pitching the same way I always have been, I'm just focused on keeping the ball down. I pitched up in the zone a little bit in Spring Training, so I'm trying to really just keep the ball down, and that's pretty much it."

Sounds simple enough, and maybe it just is. After all, Hahn wasn't the only pitcher who struggled in the dry air of the Arizona desert. This year, in particular, it proved to be a nightmarish environment for pitchers, especially those like Hahn who rely so much on their breaking ball.

Hahn has since seen his signature curveball work like it used to; he's throwing it for strikes and putting away hitters with it whenever he pleases. He's also fine-tuned a developing changeup, all the while maintaining encouraging velocity.

After posting a 3.35 ERA in 16 starts for the A's last year, the right-hander missed the second half of the season with a forearm strain. Subsequently, staying healthy became his priority when he entered camp, though Hahn now admits he may have placed too much emphasis on that and not enough on results.

"My biggest concern was being healthy, and I was so caught up with being healthy and feeling good again that maybe I put too much thinking into that and not enough into, all right, it's time to pitch, it's time to get ready for Day 1," he said. "Now that I know I'm healthy, I don't have to worry about that anymore and just worry about pitching and getting better."

Hahn has struck out 11 in 12 innings for Nashville, allowing six hits and four walks in that span, and it would make sense for him to be given another opportunity to post similar numbers for Oakland sooner rather than later, with A's starters struggling to give the club innings in the early going.

"I know I can help," Hahn said. "I'm ready to go. I want to help that team as much as I can. I just want to get back up there with those guys and win and put up zeros on the board and I'm going to do everything I can to do that.

"I was a little surprised when I went down. I knew I had a rough spring, but I was surprised I was just judged off my Spring Training. But it was definitely for the better. It wasn't easy, but it's easier to figure things out at a lower level than it is in the Major Leagues. I'm pitching with even more confidence every outing."

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