"They know this is a great opportunity," says Steve McCatty, the lone active holdover from Martin's starting staff, who's coming back from arm trouble. "The whole team is happy for them."
Schueler has stressed aggressiveness to his young charges—make sure the first pitch is a strike and don't be afraid to throw inside. But that hard line is softened by a patience that begins with Boros, who was hired to succeed Martin largely because of his low-pressure, professorial manner. "I want everybody to feel loose within a framework of learning," Boros says. "If someone doesn't succeed, we give them a pat on the back and talk about it."
That approach has been particularly successful with Conroy, the fastballer whom Charlie Finley brought to the big club directly out of high school in 1978. In his only two big league appearances that year, Conroy walked nine and allowed four earned runs in five innings. Five years in the minors followed. "It took me a long time to get my confidence back," he says, "but I've matured and I really like the coaching staff." Both Atherton, a fireballing reliever, and Heimueller, a screwballer, were summoned from Tacoma in July. "I'm having too much fun to feel any pressure," says Heimueller. Righthander Mike Warren (1-3) also left Tacoma to rejoin the A's in mid-August.
"The toughest part is learning to succeed, and our young pitchers have done that," says Boros. "A pennant race would be fun. I just hope we get a chance to find out." Maybe next year, Steve.