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Joey Devine to begin season on DL; Daric Barton won’t go to Japan; reliever Erick Threets sent down

There is A’s roster news this morning as the team prepares to leave for Tokyo on Thursday …

Reliever Joey Devine will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list with a right biceps injury, meaning he will not go to Japan for the team’s season-opening series. Manager Bob Melvin also said Sunday that first baseman Daric Barton will not travel to Japan but that he remains on the roster and will rejoin the team for four Bay Area exhibitions to continue competing for the first base job. Barton was delayed this spring by complications as he returned from shoulder surgery. He played first base for the first time Saturday against the Giants, and Melvin has made it clear that Barton remains a legitimate contender to start at first base along with Brandon Allen and Kila Ka’aihue.

Devine hasn’t pitched since March 8 because of inflammation in his biceps. Because the A’s begin their season with an early March 28 opener, they are allowed to backdate Devine’s DL transaction to March 24. That means he could be activated as early as April 8. If that’s the case, he would miss just four regular-season games – two in Tokyo against Seattle and two more in Oakland on April 6-7 against the Mariners.
In his absence, Fautino De Los Santos figures to assume a more prominent late-inning relief role along with Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes. Either Balfour or Fuentes will serve as closer. With Devine to miss early games, the A’s could turn to right-handed relievers Andrew Carignan, Ryan Cook or Travis Schlichting to assume the innings Devine would have had. Left-handed relievers Pedro Figueroa or Jordan Norberto could have a better shot of making the roster as well.

Erick Threets, another lefty reliever, was sent down Sunday. Melvin said he was impressed with Threets, who is from Livermore, and said he could help the team at some point this season.

The A’s roster situation is a bit tricky to figure out for the Japan series. They are allowed to take 30 players on the trip, because they also play two exhibitions in Tokyo and need the extra manpower. They must get their official roster down to 28, and for the regular-season games against the Mariners, they must designate a 25-man roster of players eligible for those games. Confusing? You bet. The three extra players who make up the group of 28 have not been demoted to the minors. They remain in competition for the true 25-man roster once the team returns to the Bay Area and prepares to begin the regular season full bore on April 6. Barton, for instance, is one of those 28 players, even though he won’t even travel to Japan.

Another Japan roster tidbit: The 25-man roster that the A’s declare for the March 28 opener must stay the same for the March 29 game unless there is an injury and someone needs to be replaced.

–As for simpler baseball news, the A’s-Diamondbacks game in Scottsdale should begin at 1:05 p.m. as scheduled. We got some rain overnight and it’s supposed to come back again later in the afternoon. Who knows if they’ll get the entire game in, but at least A’s starter Tyson Ross should get his work in.

A’s lineup:
Weeks 2B, Pennington SS, Smith RF, Cespedes CF, Ka’aihue 1B, Gomes LF, Barton DH, Suzuki C, Sogard 3B; Ross RHP.

Joe Stiglich