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Bob Melvin talks pitcher/catcher relationship, and the search for a closer

On the first day that pitchers and catchers worked out, A’s manager Bob Melvin had a predictable topic in his team meeting Sunday. “The message today was about the pitcher/catcher relationship, we’re trying to cultivate that,” said Melvin, a former catcher with the Giants. “The catchers are an extension of the pitchers. We want our guys to feel like when the pitcher gives up a run, that’s their run. That’s their ERA.”

The A’s had an opportunity to begin camp about a week earlier than they did, due to their early season opener against Seattle on March 28 in Tokyo. The Mariners opted to take advantage of that time and report earlier. Melvin defended the A’s decision not to, saying there’s sufficient time to get everyone ready. “You can do all the work like this to get their arms ready and so forth, but it’s when you get into games that you really start to find out about people,” he said. “We didn’t feel like we needed to go too early. We’re talking about two regular-season games (in Japan).”

And Melvin was asked again about the closer’s position, which is sure to be a hot topic in coming weeks. The A’s need to identify a ninth-inning man since Andrew Bailey was traded in the winter. “The obvious choices are (Grant) Balfour and (Brian) Fuentes,” Melvin said. “Those are guys in the past that we’ve used to get key outs in earlier innings, too. We do have talented guys like (Joey) Devine and (Fautino) De Los Santos. We have several guys capable of doing it, but we’ll take our time choosing that guy.”

Joe Stiglich