ANAHEIM, Calif. — When Ryon Healy steps into the batter’s box Tuesday night at Angel Stadium, the Oakland Athletics third baseman will look like the same Ryon Healy who faced the Los Angeles Angels in the season-opening four-game series a few weeks back.
But looks can be deceiving.
The truth is, the Healy set to oppose Angels starting pitcher JC Ramirez on Tuesday is a completely different hitter from the one Los Angeles saw the first week in April.
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Healy went 3-for-14 in the series against the Angels, including 0-for-2 against Ramirez when the right-hander was pitching out of the bullpen. Healy is 0-for-4 against Ramirez in his career, including two at-bats last season.
Healy’s slow start wasn’t exclusive to his games against the Angels. In a loss to the Houston Astros on April 15, Healy went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. His batting average was .170, his on-base percentage was .204 and his slugging percentage was .340.
That was when A’s manager Bob Melvin gave Healy a chance to catch his breath. Healy was not in the starting lineup for the next two games, though he did get the chance to pinch-hit in both games. And it both pinch-hitting opportunities, he got hits (single, double).
Taking a step back seems to have helped Healy tremendously. Since April 16, Healy is hitting .524 (11-for-21) with four doubles, one homer and six RBIs.
Overall, he is up to a .279 average with a .319 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage.
“To get those two days to really just re-evaluate and slow things back down has helped me be more successful here recently,” Healy told MLB.com. “I swung a lot less. I spent two weeks in the cage … searching for a mechanical issue, when realistically it wasn’t. It was more mental and just (my) approach.
“So being able to slow my body down, slow my mind down and slow my eyes down has given me the ability to swing at better pitches and give myself a better opportunity.”
Ramirez, though, won’t exactly be the same pitcher who faced Healy and the A’s the first time around either. Ramirez is now in the rotation, having taken the spot of injured right-hander Garrett Richards.
He will be making his third start, and he showed improvement from the first to the second. Ramirez set career highs in his last start with 5 1/3 innings pitched and nine strikeouts against Houston.
Ramirez worked on using his curveball more in spring training, an additional pitch that can be important for a starter who faces batters multiple times in a single game. As a reliever, he could stick with his split-finger fastball and slider.
“When they told me last year that they’re going to try to (make me) be a starter in spring training, I was surprised,” Ramirez told the Orange County Register. “I still had some question marks in my mind about it. But when I threw a lot of innings in spring training, I thought, ‘Yeah, I can do that. I just need to get used to it.’ I thought about facing the lineup the second time, I think (that) was the hard part. Just make that adjustment.”
Ramirez is 2-1 with a 4.76 ERA in nine career games (all in relief) against Oakland.
Jesse Hahn, who is 1-0 with a 4.86 ERA in three career starts against the Angels, will start for the A’s. Hahn is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three games (two starts) this year. He was outstanding in his most recent outing, limiting the Texas Rangers to one run on two hits over six innings in a 9-1 win last Wednesday.