Trevor Cahill adjusts to the National League

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — While many of us didn't see Billy Beane's offseason pitching purge coming, Trevor Cahill says he had an idea that it was a possibility.

He just didn't think he'd be a part of it.

"It was definitely a surprise," Cahill said in the Diamondbacks' clubhouse at Salt River Fields on Wednesday morning. "I mean, I knew that Gio [Gonzalez] and [Andrew] Bailey might be gone. But I never thought I'd be gone, at least not for a couple of years.

"I definitely didn't think I'd be the first one to go."

But the 24-year-old right-hander was indeed the first one out of the Bay Area, taking his sinkerball (and teammate Craig Breslow) from the Oakland A's to Arizona. The players headed the other way were outfielder Collin Cowgill and pitchers Jarrod Parker (who Dave Brown checked in with last week) and Ryan Cook.

Cahill now finds himself as one of the key reasons why D'Backs fans believe their reinforced team will successfully defend its NL West championship. He'll slot into a rotation that already includes Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and Joe Saunders (the senior of the group at age 30) with top prospect Trevor Bauer waiting in the wings. Cahill is used to pitching in a young rotation — "It's kind of similar to Oakland," he noted — but the big difference is that he's now pitching for a division favorite.

The other changes Cahill will have to deal with, of course, are switching leagues and getting used to pitching in Chase Field, which ranked as a much friendlier hitters park in 2011 (fifth in ESPN's park factors) than Oakland Coliseum (20th). It's a cause for concern as Cahill's ERA dropped to 4.16 in 2011 from the 2.97 that he posted in 2010.

Then again, Brandon Webb threw a sinker and experienced plenty of success at Chase Field. Cahill said a big part of the challenge will come in learning how to pitch to a new set of teams and players. He noted that additional homework will come with the role, but says he can lean on his rotation mates for pointers — just as he can offer them advice when they take on American League teams this season.

"Hudson throws the same fastball I do but a little bit harder, so maybe I can see what he does," Cahill said. "I can ask Ian how he throws his changeup against certain batters."

Cahill also has to ask for directions to the bat rack these days. He went straight to work in the batting cage after reporting to camp, first facing pitches from a machine and then slowly graduating on to throws from a live arm.

"Playing in interleague [with Oakland], it was like 'don't get hurt, maybe get a bunt down, but definitely don't get hurt,'" Cahill said. "Moving over here, there are games won or lost based on bunting or moving a guy over or getting a hit here or there.

"The [National League] is a bigger adjustment because of the hitting part. Hitting, bunting and all that stuff — I have to learn how to do it."

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