SAN FRANCISCO – Santiago Casilla stepped on the mound at AT&T Park Friday night two dozen times. Each time was special.
The A’s reliever spent seven seasons with the Giants, most of them as their closer, and he couldn’t leave that behind just because he was in a new uniform.
“When you are pitching on a mound like that, you are reminded of your moments there,” Casilla said through an interpreter. “Every time I stepped on the mound I reminded myself of those times.”
Casilla got a huge reaction Thursday when he was in the A’s dugout and was shown on the big screen. The reaction when he was actually pitching against the home time Friday was more mixed.
“I felt great, I liked the reaction,” he said.
At least one of his former Giants’ pals had a different reaction. Brandon Belt said he saw Casilla before the game and Casilla promised him a fastball down the middle.
“He lied,” Belt said, laughing after the game. “He never threw one.”
The one concern for the A’s was that Casilla felt some discomfort in his left leg. It wasn’t much, but the A’s are counting on Casilla to solidify their bullpen, and his pain is their pain.
“There was a little leg tightness,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We had to go and check, but he was OK.”
Casilla agreed, saying it was just the difference between pitching in the heat of Arizona and coming back to the cool of Northern California.
“I tried to do a little too much,” he said. “But it’s not a big deal.”
Casilla and virtually all of the other A’s main relievers will get Saturday’s game off, the better to be ready for Monday’s opener against the Angels in Oakland.
“This was the best we’ve seen him throw,” Melvin said of Casilla’s 25 pitches. The right-hander allowed one hit and struck out two. “He had good movement.”
Casilla agreed, saying he liked the way both his slider and sinker, saying he was able to locate the fastball as well as his two off-speed pitches.