Don’t look now, but there’s space for new faces in what a month ago was a relatively closed A’s bullpen.
The A’s won’t have Jesse Chavez in the bullpen now that he’s been moved into the rotation. There was a 50-50 chance that Tommy Milone was going to be the long man in the pen, but he’s in the rotation, too.
So what had been a set seven-man staff now has a couple of openings, with at least one of them likely to go to a left-hander. Closer Jim Johnson, right-handed setup men Ryan Cook, Luke Gregerson and Dan Otero are set, as in lefty Sean Doolittle, although even there, Cook might not be ready to start the season in the bullpen because of shoulder issues.
The non-left-handed slot is likely to go to Evan Scribner, who has been on top of his game since the start of spring training and who has put up good numbers in five of his six appearances.
“Scribner has to be at the forefront of that list,’’ manager Bob Melvin said after Monday’s 6-2 A’s win over the Chicago Cubs, a game in which only reliever pitched for Oakland after lefty starter Scott Kazmir was scratched because of a bit of left triceps stiffness.
Scribner, who was not one of those who pitched Monday, has gotten nothing from praise from Melvin this spring.
The tougher call is going to be the other slot. Oakland got another scoreless inning lefty Fernando Abad Monday and two more scoreless from Joe Savery, who wound up having to start a game for the first time since 2010. Then there’s Drew Pomeranz, a lefty who can pitch long relief as well as start, if needed, and Josh Lindblom, who can do much the same from the right side.
If I had to guess right now, I’d say they A’s would go with Abad, but I wouldn’t bet the mortgage on it. He throws hard and isn’t just a lefty-on-lefty guy.
Savery perhaps said it best when he summed up his shot at making the bullpen, even with the changes the A’s pitching staff is undergoing now.
“Nothing’s really changed for me,’’ he said. “I know coming in I would have to be pretty close to perfect to be in the big leagues with this team. It’s a supremely talented team. I need to be at my best to stay in the organization, much less be on the big club.’’
This is from a pitcher who has yet to give up a run in six appearances (6.2 innings) this spring