All-Stars Street, Ross share mutual admiration
Pitchers share respect for each other's out pitch -- the slider
MINNEAPOLIS -- Tyson Ross always wanted to copy Huston Street's slider.
"It's disgusting," said Ross. "If the coaches in high school had let me, I would've probably started on the third-base side and taken a big step over to the first-base side just like Huston."
"That's crazy," responded Street. "Well, you know what? I wish I had Tyson's slider. I think kids, they put you on a pedestal. Now he's here, and I'm putting him on a pedestal. He's a pretty special player."
Street, 30, was just a kid himself when he made his big league debut with the A's in 2005 and took home American League Rookie of the Year honors. Ross, a lifelong A's fan, watched on from his own backyard in Oakland.
On Monday, they sat merely 20 feet apart while addressing media as San Diego's All-Star representatives in Minnesota.
"It's just funny the way baseball is," said Ross, traded by the A's to the Padres at the end of 2012. "Not to date Huston at all, but growing up and watching him in high school, it's truly neat that a guy I watched and kind of modeled myself after is now a teammate and a fellow All-Star."
Street is technically Ross' replacement on the National League All-Star roster, since Ross was deemed ineligible to pitch in the game after starting against the Dodgers on Sunday.
The veteran opened the season with 23 consecutive saves before blowing his first one July 5 against the Giants. Six days later, in his first appearance since that game, he worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning vs. the Dodgers for save No. 24, fifth most in the National League, to go along with a 1.09 ERA and 0.76 WHIP.
Since the start of 2012, he's converted 80 of 84 saves for the highest save percentage of any big league closer (95.2) over that stretch.
His presence has been just as significant off the field.
"I don't have enough time to talk about Huston as a person," said Ross. "He's incredible, a great, great person and family man. I think just his wisdom he brings to the park every day is something I admire. He's one of the best in the game, and he's gone about his business the same way for a long time. I'm sure people say he doesn't throw hard enough to be a closer or that he's not big enough, but he doesn't care. I love just watching him play catch, seeing how professional he is with everything he does.
"Huston's been one of the best teammates I've ever had. For a guy like me who grew up watching him play in Oakland, people always said I had a Huston Street-like slider. It means all the world to me to be able to be in the same clubhouse as him and learn from him on a daily basis and pick his brain."
Street, naturally, tried to one-up Ross in handing out compliments.
"He's one of the most diligent, hard-working, passionate people and he's made marked improvement every single year," said Street. "He's just now kind of getting to the next layer of the onion and is going to be a magnificent, magnificent pitcher to watch for a long time to come. I really am just a huge fan, and his slider is one of the best pitches I think I've ever seen."
Ross has thrown it 40 percent of the time this year, a breakout season of sorts after getting through a dose of growing pains in 2013. The righty has a 2.85 ERA and is averaging 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings over his first 20 starts -- already a career high -- while permanently establishing himself in the rotation.
"When he was announced as the All-Star initially, there may have been some disappointed people," said Street, "but in our clubhouse, everyone couldn't have been happier for him, and for me to get to come here and share this with him, it's special for me."