Grant Balfour named A’s closer

The A’s roster continues to take shape … Grant Balfour will be the team’s closer, manager Bob Melvin said Tuesday. It came down to Balfour and Brian Fuentes, and Fuentes will serve as a lefty setup man. “I had a pretty good idea what we wanted to do coming in,” Melvin said. “I think it’s just based on results last year. You look at the numbers and what (Balfour) accomplished, and he deserves a chance to close.”

But Balfour never has been a regular closer in his seven-plus major league seasons. This could be a year we see a few different pitchers (think Fuentes, Fautino De Los Santos, Joey Devine) get a crack in the ninth inning.

It’s tough to predict the makeup of the A’s bullpen right now, since they can bring so many relievers to Japan. They don’t have to cut down to a seven-man ‘pen until they get back to the Bay Area. The A’s will carry at least two lefties (Fuentes and Jerry Blevins) and Melvin didn’t close the door on keeping three. Jordan Norberto has looked sharp this spring, so he’s a possibility. Bottom line, there won’t be a shortage of relievers among the 30 players the A’s take to Japan. And we may find out who the full 30 are by the end of today.

Joe Stiglich