By Joe Stiglich
PHOENIX -- Outfielder Travis Buck, once a marquee prospect with the A's, said he's relishing a fresh start with the Cleveland Indians.
Non-tendered by the A's in December, Buck suffered numerous injuries that sidetracked his Oakland career. His frustration with what he perceived as a lack of opportunity with the team -- when he was healthy -- also was well known.
Buck shared Wednesday that he grew so disillusioned with the A's that he sought professional therapy last season. He had sessions with a neuropsychologist, hoping that would uncover some of his injury problems, and visited a psychotherapist to talk through mounting stress.
"It gets to a point where your mind is such a powerful thing," said Buck, who played right field and had an RBI single in Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the A's. "I had so much crap and negative energy in my mind that no matter how I tried to hide it, it wasn't going away."
Buck, 27, referred to things he put up with "both on the field and in the clubhouse" with the A's but declined to identify which individuals might have been the source of that.
"Half the time I didn't know my role, and the communication was kind of nonexistent," he said. "I was so screwed up in my head to where I wasn't able to be myself."
In the A's defense, Buck's various health setbacks -- which ranged from oblique injuries to postconcussion syndrome to shin splints -- left them with no choice but to explore other outfield options.
Buck signed a minor league deal with Cleveland and stands a good shot to make the 25-man roster. With injuries to Grady Sizemore and Trevor Crowe, Buck might platoon in left field with Austin Kearns.
"Baseball is so fun again," he said.
The left-hander is trying to develop his changeup as a third pitch. A journeyman who joined the A's last year after being discovered in the Mexican League, Cramer said he's gotten by to this point mainly on the strength of a fastball and curve.
"Basically I'm always pitching with my back against the wall, showing what I can do," he said. "I didn't have the luxury of putting a couple bad outings together while working on something."
Now he's trying to claim the A's fifth starter spot, and two of his competitors also pitched Wednesday.
Josh Outman labored through 11/3 innings, walking three. He's still knocking the rust off from being sidelined 11/2 seasons after elbow surgery.
"There's still (a struggle) with that command at game speed," Outman said. "I feel like it's something that will come with time. I'm just not there yet."