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A’s go all right-handed in rotation with Doubront in bullpen

Right-hander Aaron Brooks's first start for A's was good enough to keep him in the rotation.

Right-hander Aaron Brooks’s first start for A’s was good enough to keep him in the rotation.

Felix Doubront joined the A’s Sunday, a couple of days after the A’s picked him up from Toronto in a cash deal and was immediately put into  the Oakland bullpen.

There had been thought of putting the left-handed Doubront into the rotation, with 77 of his 107 career games over the last six years for the Red Sox, Cubs and Blue Jays have been as a starter.

The A’s have traded one left-handed starter, Scott Kazmir, and have moved another into the bullpen, Drew Pomeranz. With Doubront moving into relief duty, the A’s will have an all-right-handed rotation for the first time this season.

  Oakland had Sonny Gray starting Sunday, which was the ninth consecutive game started by an A’s right-hander. That’s the club’s longest stretch of the season and the longest for the A’s as a franchise since the first two weeks of August in 2013 when Tommy Milone was optioned to Triple-A. He wasn’t gone long; the A’s went 13 days without starting a lefty then.

Bob Melvin is one of many big league managers who likes being able to get the opponents out of their comfort zone by crossing them up by being able to throw a lefty at them. That was one of the reasons the A’s struck a cash deal with the Blue Jays after they’d run into a roster crunch and put Doubront on the designated for assignment list, giving them 10 days to trade him or release him.

The wild card turned out to be right-hander Aaron Brooks, picked up from the Royals in the deal that sent Ben Zobrist to Kansas City. He started Saturday, threw 94 pitches and carried the A’s into the eighth inning of what proved to be a 5-1 Oakland win over Cleveland.

“Brooks exceeded expectations,’’ Melvin said. “He showed enough to keep him in the rotation. We knew he was a strike-thrower. His changeup led to some bad swings.’’

Doubront has a much better ERA as a starter (4.47) than as a reliever (8.29), but with just 30 big league appearances out of the bullpen covering 38 innings, it doesn’t take many bad days coming on in relief to skew the numbers. He said upon his arrival at the Coliseum Sunday that he was ready when Melvin told him he’d be working out of the bullpen.

The A’s will mostly use him in long relief, at least to start.

“Whenever you are pitching more than one inning (of relief), it’s nice to have it’s nice to have a little bit more of a repertoire, and he has,’’ the manager said. “Any time you have starter stuff, it’s an easy transition into pitching for length in the bullpen.’’

The A’s do have a left-handed option at Triple-A in former Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito, but he’s not on the 40-man roster, and it’s unclear if the A’s would be willing to risk losing a player on waivers to open a spot for Zito to be promoted.

 

–Coco Crisp was back with the A’s Sunday after spending much of the last week with Class-A Stockton on an injury rehabilitation assignment. Crisp said he didn’t know when he’d be activated, and Melvin only said it would be soon, but it’s a good bet that he’ll be brought onto the active roster Monday.

Crisp still has neck issues, but he’s been able to use the time off since May to get his cervical strain under control, and he said he wasn’t feeling pain when he was playing for the Ports.

When he does return, Crisp will not be the leadoff hitter, his primary role with the A’s over the last five-plus seasons. With rookie Billy Burns averaging .299 with a .335 on-base percentage and 45 runs scored in 77 games, the A’s don’t want to move him. Crisp, like Burns a switch-hitter, will move into the No. 2 slot.

“The plan all along was to make sure he was healthy enough to come back and play multiple games in a row,’’ Melvin said. “I talked to Coco (about the change). I do like the dynamic of potentially the two of them at the top.

“Coco second might help him, too. If Billy’s on base, that might help him, too. Coco’s a pretty good situational guy. He’d see more fastball. Sitting here right now, that’s probably where we’ll go.’’

The A’s will likely have to choose between outfielder Jake Smolinski and first baseman/third baseman Max Muncy in making the roster move.

 

NOTES

–Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte threw back-to-back Friday and Saturday with Triple-A Nashville, then was to fly back to join the A’s. It’s likely that he will be activated Monday. Dan Otero, as the only man in the bullpen with an option, could go down. If not, the A’s would have to take a chance of losing Evan Scribner on waivers.

–Sean Doolittle (left shoulder) will throw in a simulated game in the next few days as he continues to try to make it all the way back with Oakland and having been able to pitch in just one game for the A’s this year. If all goes well, a rehab assignment likely would be the next step.

–Stephen Vogt got a rare day off against a right-handed pitcher, but grounded out as a pinch-hitter. Vogt is in the midst of his worst slump of the season. The left-handed hitting catcher is hitless in his last 26 at-bats, which is the second-longest streak of his career. He broke into the Major Leagues with an 0-for-32 performance.

 

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.