The need for a slew of arms behind them with back-to-back split-squad games Friday and Saturday over, the A’s made their first roster cuts of the spring Sunday morning, sending out five players, all pitchers.
Right-hander Arnold Leon, who was up briefly with the A’s in 2014 but didn’t pitch, was optioned to Triple-A Nashville. Right-hander Raul Alcantara, recovering from Tommy John surgery, was optioned to Double-A Midland. And right-hander Angel Castro and lefties Jim Fuller and Rudy Owens were reassigned to minor league camp.
Manager Bob Melvin said the toughest move for him was Leon, who came to camp off a sparkling winter ball season in Mexico.
Pitching for Culiacan, he went 4-2 with a 2.05 ERA in 10 starts while holding hitters to a .179 average. That would, and did, open eyes, but that work, along with five starts in the Caribbean Series got him up to 233 innings pitched for the 2014-15 calendar year, and the A’s noticed that, too.
Leon, 26, didn’t get much work this spring because of the number of innings he’d already been through, so “we took it slow with him,’’ Melvin said.
“It may look like he’s under our radar, but he’s not,’’ the manager said. “He’s still a guy we think very highly of. He can start or relieve, depending. But this spring was the effect of all those innings.’’
Leon says his arm “feels fresh, ready to go,’’ but he’ll be throwing in the minor league camp for now.
He was called up on May 7 as the 26th man when the A’s were playing a doubleheader against Seattle. He wasn’t needed, and the next day he was back at Triple-A.
These moves get the A’s down to 59 players in camp, including pitchers A.J. Griffin and Taylor Thompson on the 60-day disabled list. Of the 57 others, the A’s have 38 spots filled on the 40-man roster and 19 non-roster invitees. The complete breakdown: 27 pitchers, six catchers, 17 infielders and seven outfielders.