Tommy Milone has been one of the Oakland A's hottest starting pitchers of late.
And that made his appearance in a Triple-A game Wednesday night, starting for Sacramento against the Fresno Grizzlies, all the more confusing.
For at least the time being, though, Milone is the odd man out after the A's completed a mega-trade with the Chicago Cubs last week to acquire starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel and then optioned Milone to the minors.
So there he was, suiting up for the River Cats at Chukchansi Park despite a 6-3 record with a 3.55 ERA in 16 starts in the majors this season.
He was on the winning side, as Sacramento beat Fresno 6-2 before an announced crowd of 5,642. Andy Parrino had the go-ahead hit -- a two-run single in the seventh.
The left-handed Milone limited the Grizzlies to one run on four hits and two walks in four innings. Milone was struck by a sharp grounder on his left shin during the fourth, which prompted an early exit.
"Just a big bruise," Milone said. "I should be fine. I don't think I'm even limping right now. It's nothing to worry about."
What remains a concern for Milone, however, is how long the 27-year-old will remain in the minors.
Milone had gone 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA in his past 11 starts with Oakland, including six scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.
There has been speculation that Milone might miss only one start and rejoin the A's after next week's All-Star break -- following the minimum 10 days required after a demotion.
Milone, however, said he received no indication of what the timetable might be.
"I was hoping the way I'd been pitching up until then would've helped," Milone said. "It didn't. You got to continue to stay ready, be ready.
"It definitely wasn't expected. To hear those words from my manager that I was getting sent down, it sucks. But there's nothing I can do. Can't control it. No sense in dwelling over it."
The Grizzlies certainly looked baffled by Milone. The only run he allowed came when Mark Minicozzi's comebacker hit off Milone's leg. It went for a hit, with Nick Noonan coming home to make it 1-0 in the fourth. Milone was checked by the trainer but finished the inning.
Just about all of the other signs showed a pitcher who long ago deserved to graduate from the minor leagues.
Milone, a 10th-round pick by the Washington Nationals in 2008, last spent the majority of a season in the minors in 2011. He went 12-6 with a 3.22 ERA and 155 strikeouts in 1481/3 innings for Triple-A Syracuse of the International League.
With the A's, he made 31 starts in 2012 and 26 a season ago.
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