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Rangers’ Washington respects the strength of A’s bullpen

Jim Johnson could be closing again for A's the way Rangers' manager Ron Washington sees it.

Jim Johnson could be closing again for A’s the way Rangers’ manager Ron Washington sees it.

It’s by no means clear that the A’s want to go long term with the closer-by-committee that has marked the first month of the 2014 season.

Texas manager Ron Washington doesn’t know if Jim Johnson will reclaim his job as closer or if A’s manager Bob Melvin will have Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson (and possibly Ryan Cook) will continue to take the job on an ad hoc basis.

Washington sees no reason why the A’s can’t do it if they want to.

“They are above the norm as far as bullpens go,’’ the Rangers manager and former Athletics third base coach said. “They go 100 mph from the left side. They can go 100 mph from the right side. They can throw breaking balls from the left side. They can throw breaking balls from the right side.

“They’ve got arms.’’

Washington is a big fan of Gregerson – “he has great sink, then he’ll slider you.’’ And Cook – “he’ll eat you up with the fastball, then slider you.’’

The Texas skipper saves some of his headiest praise for the left-handed Doolittle, admiring the “way he really comes after you.’’

And he said he wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Jim Johnson, who came to the A’s from Baltimore riding the wave of back-to-back 50-save seasons, was able to assert himself once again.

“I wouldn’t count Johnson out,’’ Washington said. “He can get himself back together. If he’s got kinks, they can iron them out.’’

John Hickey

Returning to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.