Aug. 2, 2012
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON - Dan Straily's Major League dreams became a reality Thursday.
Straily, the former Marshall University right-hander who leads all of professional baseball in strikeouts this season, was recalled today by the Oakland Athletics from the Class AAA Sacramento River Cats.
Straily is scheduled for his first big league start tomorrow night at 7:05 (PDT) against Toronto.
The Blue Jays are managed by John Farrell, the father of Shane Farrell, a former Marshall teammate of Straily ... and the Thundering Herd pitcher who taught Straily the grip on his slider, which has become part of his five-pitch repertoire that was featured in a "Prospects" story on MiLB.com earlier this week.
Straily had been scheduled for a Thursday start for Sacramento before he got the call to the bigs. He learned of his promotion late Wednesday night, and "didn't sleep at all" into this morning.
"I've been spending a few hours packing and thinking about it and getting ready," Straily said this morning from Sacramento. "I'm sure when I get down there to Oakland I'll feel some nerves, especially (Friday) night.
"But this is what I've been working toward every day since I played at Marshall. You go through this and you wonder if or when you get there what it will feel like. Well, after (Friday) night, I'll finally know."
Straily is Marshall's first Major League player since right-hander Rick Reed finished a 15-year career in 2003. Reed last pitched on Sept. 30, 2003 when he threw 2/3 innings of relief in the American League Division Series for Minnesota, against the New York Yankees.
That's 3,230 days, figured Thundering Herd/IMG Sports Network play-by-play voice Steve Cotton.
Straily, 23, becomes the 12th Major Leaguer who has played for the Thundering Herd, and only the third since 1974, joining fellow pitchers Reed and Jeff Montgomery.
He is the first of current Herd Coach Jeff Waggoner's players to reach the Majors.
"This is a huge day for Marshall University baseball to get our first player called up to the big leagues," said Waggoner, who is flying to Oakland on Friday to witness Straily's first start and against the father of his former teammate and good friend. "I'm very, very excited for Dan and really proud of him, and everything he's accomplished.
"Getting to see Dan's first start is going to be very special for me. When I first found out he was called up, I had chills down my spine. This is really special for Dan and our program."
Waggoner had been scheduled to take his family to the Ohio State Fair on Saturday.
Straily changed that.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Straily is 8-6 in two minor league stops for the A's this season, first with Midland in the Class AA Texas League and then Sacramento. He has struck out 175 in 138 1/3 innings, over 22 starts. He has walked only 37 walks and allowed 97 hits.
The right-hander from Springfield, Ore., a 24th-round draft pick from Marshall in 2009, was 3-4 with a 3.38 ERA in Double A with 108 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings. He was selected for the Texas League All-Star Game, but was promoted to Triple A before the game was played.
At Sacramento, Straily was 5-2 with a 1.36 ERA and fanned 67 in 53 innings over eight starts.
Opponents are batting only .197 against the former Herd hurler this season -- .149 in Class AAA.
In two seasons at Marshall after transferring from Western Oregon, Straily was 9-7 with a 4.27 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 153 2/3 innings. He also dropped about 40 pounds, and changes that the Oakland farm system staff made in his delivery also have enhanced his fastball and slider, he said.
In June, when he moved from Double A to Triple A, Straily said he was surprised because he had spent full seasons in each of his previous minor league stops. He was surprised again Wednesday night, he said.
"It's one of those deals when you are first drafted, you think you're going to make it (to the Majors)," Straily said. "Everybody thinks that. Then you get into it and reality sets in and you see how hard it is.
"I didn't think for sure that I had a chance to make it until this season. Last year, I was a guy in high (Class) A ball just trying to figure out what a strike was. Now, I'm going to start in the Majors. It's a dream come true."