As advertised: Puk, Cotton impress Melvin

As advertised: Puk, Cotton impress Melvin

MESA, Ariz. -- A's starter Jharel Cotton started a trend Tuesday afternoon when he struck out the side in the opening frame. Andrew Triggs followed suit in the fourth, and top pitching prospect A.J. Puk managed to do the same in the sixth in his first outing in green and gold.

The pitching-rich A's compiled 14 strikeouts in all to dispatch the defending American League champion Indians, who looked silly against some of Oakland's hyped young arms in a 5-4 victory.

Cotton's easy first inning featured strikeouts of Cleveland regulars Jose Ramirez, Roberto Perez and Lonnie Chisenhall. The right-hander, readying to enter the season as the A's fourth starter, attempted to duplicate the performance in the second but lost his location ever-so slightly.

His fourth consecutive strikeout got past catcher Josh Phegley for a wild pitch that put Abraham Almonte on second base. Cotton proceeded to walk his next batter and hit another, but a run-scoring double play helped him through the inning with little harm done.

"I got in some trouble," Cotton said, "but I got out of it and was able to limit the damage, so I was happy about that."

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Phegley, who missed much of the 2016 season following right knee surgery, had not caught Cotton in a game before Tuesday. The righty's changeup, he said, was as advertised.

"It was there," Phegley said. "I got to see it first-hand. His fastball was also harder than I guess I kind of expected. I was pretty impressed. I don't think he's happy with the location, but that's what Spring Training is for."

Triggs, competing for the final rotation spot, allowed one unearned run and two hits in two strong innings -- "I still don't know how people make contact with his pitches," Phegley said -- in advance of Puk's arrival.

The 6-foot-7 lefty, snagged by the A's with the No. 6 overall Draft pick last year, made quick work of Erik Kratz, Chisenhall and Almonte, utilizing a four-pitch mix to set them down on strikes.

"As impressive as anything was his changeup," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He had good life on his fastball, but something we've been talking about is using his changeup and using it effectively, and every changeup he threw ended up being a good one. You take the mound for the first time in a Spring Training game, expect to have some nerves and so forth, and he didn't. Nice little start for him."

Said Puk: "I felt really good. I was kinda hanging around the bullpen, anxious to get out there, but once I started warming up and throwing out there, I kinda calmed down and felt good. Just trying to throw strikes."

Worth Noting

• Pitchers Ryan Madson, John Axford and Frankie Montas are scheduled to make their Cactus League debuts Thursday against the Rangers.

• Tommy John rehab partners Chris Bassitt and Felix Doubront threw 25-pitch bullpen sessions Tuesday and continue to progress with no issues.

• Non-roster catcher Ryan Lavarnway departed camp to join Team Israel ahead of the World Baseball Classic on Monday, prompting the A's to bring in Minor League catcher Jose Santiago Chavez for additional help behind the plate, even awarding him his own locker.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.