The A’s reinstated left-handed pitcher Eric O’Flaherty to the active roster Thursday after a lengthy stint on the disabled list.
O’Flaherty was signed this offseason, while he was in the midst of recovering from surgery on his left elbow. To that end, the A’s placed him on the 60-day disabled list at the end of spring training.
He last pitched in a game May 17, 2013, as a member of the Atlanta Braves. He said he is eager to make his A’s debut.
“I couldn’t sleep last night,” O’Flaherty said before Thursday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. “It’s a big day. It feels like opening day.”
The A’s designated left-handed reliever Jeff Francis for assignment to make room for O’Flaherty on the roster. Francis had a 6.08 ERA in nine games for Oakland this season. He posted an 0-1 record and pitched 13 1/3 innings overall.
O’Flaherty, 29, is expected to replace Francis as a late-inning reliever and set-up man for closer Sean Doolittle. He is in his ninth season in the majors but first with the A’s.
For now, though, manager Bob Melvin said he intends to ease O’Flaherty back into the flow of things after such a long layoff.
“I’d like to get him in some games before we get him pitching in the seventh or eighth inning with two on,” Melvin said. “Having said that, you never know how the game’s going to play out. He’s ready for just about anything.”
O’Flaherty enjoyed sustained success for the Braves the past five seasons, and he gained a reputation as a pitcher that could get out right-handed and left-handed hitters on a consistent basis.
Adding a pitcher of O’Flaherty’s caliber to the bullpen midseason gives the A’s a nice little jolt, Melvin said. O’Flaherty said he’s just looking to carve out a niche.
“It’s cool to join a team this good and a bullpen this deep, where there’s not going to be too much pressure on me to really shoulder too much of a load,” O’Flaherty said. “I can just kind of get in where I fit in and help any way I can.”
– Melvin said third Josh Donaldson is out of the starting lineup for a second straight day because of back stiffness.
Donaldson’s availability off the bench depends upon how well he feels after taking batting practice, Melvin said.
– Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring) is back in left field tonight after being the designated hitter Wednesday.
– Right fielder Josh Reddick (right knee) was scheduled to get in some cardio work Thursday for the first time since he was placed on the disabled list, Melvin said. Reddick still hasn’t been cleared for baseball-specific drills.
– The A’s are in the midst of a daunting stretch in which they play teams leading their respective divisions.
They just finished playing the Detroit Tigers, who lead the American League Central. Tonight begins a four-game series against the Blue Jays, who sit atop the AL East. Next up are the Giants, who entered play Thursday in first in the National League West.