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Ryan Cook removed from Oakland A’s closer role for time being

The A’s are back to a closer-by-committee approach for the time being, and that really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Rookie Ryan Cook has struggled over his past several outings, and A’s manager Bob Melvin said he would like to get Cook an outing or two without the pressure of a save situation. “Whether we’re up by a couple in the seventh or whether we’re down by a couple in the eighth, we’d like to get him a nice clean inning where it’s not of the magnitude of closing,” Melvin said. “That doesn’t mean he’s lost his job, it means maybe we’re targeting a spot for him that’s not closing at this point.”

Who will handle the ninth tonight if the A’s have a lead? Good question, and Melvin said before the game he didn’t know yet. “It might have something to do with how we feel at the time and how we get there.” That means that some relievers might be needed in a crucial seventh or eighth inning situation, and therefore wouldn’t be available for a save. But Melvin did say that Sean Doolittle probably isn’t available after throwing two innings last night. Figure that Grant Balfour will be the first choice to close tonight.

Thinking more long term, I don’t think the A’s have a natural alternative to Cook in the closer’s role, and it’s really an issue of concern for this team down the stretch. Balfour is streaky, and he just doesn’t seem to perform his best in a closing role. Doolittle? He’s got the stuff, but I think his inexperience would expose him fairly quickly, as it has Cook. Jordan Norberto? He’s not a long-term solution either. Suffice it to say, the ninth inning won’t be boring in the coming days if you’re an A’s fan …

–Melvin said Brett Anderson is likely to make one more start for Triple-A Sacramento so he can get his pitch count to 100. But Melvin stopped short of guaranteeing that, and you have to think that Brandon McCarthy’s health ties into this. Melvin says the team is waiting until Sunday to decide whether McCarthy will start Wednesday or Thursday. The A’s have to take McCarthy’s health on a start-by-start basis right now, and were he not able to go for some reason, Anderson is on the same turn as McCarthy and could slide into the rotation. Anderson threw six shutout innings for the River Cats on FRiday night.

Tonight’s lineups:
A’s — Crisp CF, Gomes DH, Reddick RF, Cespedes LF, Carter 1B, Inge 3B, Norris C, Rosales SS, Weeks 2B; Blackley LHP.

White Sox — De Aza CF, Youkilis 3B, Dunn 1B, Rios RF, Pierzynski DH, Ramirez SS, Viciedo LF, Flowers C, Beckham 2B; Liriano LHP.

Joe Stiglich