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There’s a big difference between the A’s trio and other talented young pitchers, such as Ryan Dempster, A.J. Burnett and Brad Penny of the Marlins. Oakland’s triumvirate was put through some daunting challenges as the A’s won the A.L. West last season. Sometimes they were successful; sometimes they failed. But the heat of those battles has forged a set of pitchers as mentally tough as it is talented.
“You go through things and you just kind of go through them,” Mulder says. “You don’t even realize as it happens that it is important or that you are growing up a little. You realize it later, that there were all kinds of moments like that, and you’re like, `Hey, what’d I just do?'”
Take a closer look at those moments from last season, and you can see a nucleus of pitchers that has grown into the foundation for what could be the A.L.’s best starting rotation outside the Bronx. The three, …