By John Hickey
Sunday, March 24th, 2013 at 12:20 pm in 2013 spring training.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin says he’s determined to get Hideki Okajima into Sunday’s A’s game against the Dodgers.
That does not bode well for Okajima, who has not pitched in the last few games.
When the manager has trouble getting a relief pitcher an inning here or there, it’s a sign that the pitcher isn’t likely to make the roster.
And so it is for Okajima, who freely admits that not only is this Oakland bullpen as strong as any he’s ever seen, it’s stocked to the gills with lefties. Some of them, including Okajima, are not likely to make the roster.
Sean Doolittle and Jerry Blevins are solid choices to make the roster as lefties, and Travis Blackley is a decent bet to be a third lefty as the long man, even though his spring numbers (0-1, 14.34 ERA) don’t show much promise.
That leaves two other lefty relievers on the 40-man roster, Pedro Figueroa and Jordan Norberto unlikely to make it, and it leaves Okajima (0-0, 5.87), the only non-roster lefty reliever remaining in camp, with little chance of breaking through.
When he signed his contract, however, Okajima told the A’s he would accept a minor league assignment if he didn’t make the opening day roster, so he’ll probably start in Sacramento.
He won’t stay there forever, however. If he isn’t in the big leagues by June, his contract gives him the right to opt for free agency.