To the surprise of almost no one, the A’s are taking the closer’s role away from Jim Johnson for the time being.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin said Thursday morning that he would use a number of other relievers – Luke Gregerson, Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Dan Otero – in that role while the club focuses on helping Johnson find his 50-save stuff of the last two seasons.
For the third time in five appearances Wednesday Johnson struggled with his control to the point where he couldn’t hold the 4-2 lead he was given in the ninth inning. He faced five batters, got just one out, and had to be replaced by Otero, who allowed a sacrifice fly but otherwise pitched well enough to get the win when Derek Norris homered in the 11th inning.
“We’re going to give Jim a break from closing,’’ Melvin said. “There’s no timetable, and I’m not going to say that I’ll be looking to give him a soft landing. We just want to let him get straightened out. And we have plenty of guys to do this.’’
Johnson said Wednesday that he was frustrated by his own lack of performance, but Melvin said the closer understood the move when it came down.
“It’s uncomfortable, yet he makes it easy because all he wants to do is win,’’ Melvin said. “That’s what he conveyed to me. He said `I just want to win here, and if I’m not doing my job, I understand.’’
Johnson, now is 0-2 with an 18.90 ERA, could get a two-inning stint at some point, the manager said, although it was unlikely it would happen Thursday.