Parker's mechanics improve in second spring start

Parker's mechanics improve in second spring start

MARYVALE, Ariz. -- Jarrod Parker's second Cactus League start went, and felt, a whole lot better than his first.

The A's right-hander allowed two hits -- one a solo home run to Ryan Braun -- in 3 1/3 innings Wednesday in Oakland's 7-2 loss to the Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park.

That line was much better than Parker's on Feb. 28, when he allowed six runs on five hits in 1 1/3 innings.

"Mechanically it was a lot smoother," Parker said.

It took awhile for Parker to get into a groove, as he issued both of his walks and faced five batters in the opening inning. He retired the next six batters in order before Braun blasted his second Cactus League homer -- both of which have come against the A's.

"In the second inning I felt like I was smooth, a lot more aggressive out in front, was able to make some pitches and kind of get some early outs," Parker said.

The homer to Braun -- who is 6-for-7 this spring -- was the second of consecutive changeups Parker threw to the Brewers outfielder.

"Yeah, I played with fire," Parker said. "I told him that. Probably the right pitch, just wrong location."

Parker was slated to top out at 45 pitches Wednesday, as he continues to get his arm in shape. He also spun off a couple sliders, with both he and A's manager Bob Melvin coming away pleased with the effort.

The 25-year-old Parker appears to have the inside track to get the ball on Opening Day, a distinction Melvin said Wednesday can't necessarily be won in Spring Training.

Although Parker said he'd like to start March 31 at Coliseum, it's not something he's worried about.

"I'd love it," Parker said. "[But] it's not something I'm working toward right now. I'm getting ready for the season, no matter when it is. No matter what day I'm throwing, it doesn't matter, as long as I'm healthy and ready to go.

"You're only the Opening Day starter once a year, and that's like being the leadoff guy once a game."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.