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Lindblom, Pomeranz get second shot at A’s bullpen

The A’s have talked plenty in the last 36 hours about the depth of their pitching.

And while it’s true that they can promote someone like Jesse Chavez to fill in as a member of the rotation to start the season, that kind of move necessarily weakens them in the bullpen.

Chavez has only made two big league starts in 191 career games. The A’s have never seen him go more than 5.2 innings, and that was in relief in an 18-inning game. He was terrific in that one, throwing scoreless relief and getting the win.

Chavez, at least early on, can’t be expected to go more than five innings in starts because he doesn’t have the track record. If it was any other pitcher, the A’s could weather that, because they’d have Chavez in the bullpen to come in the game in the fifth or sixth inning.

With Chavez in the rotation, that luxury is gone unless they can come up with Chavez Lite.

So for the final couple of weeks, the A’s may stretch out Josh Lindblom and Drew Pomeranz with the idea that one of them will take Chavez’s role as the man who eats innings in the bullpen.

Lindblom, acquired from Texas in the Michael Choice deal that brought outfielder Craig Gentry to Oakland, could have a chance to make the opening day roster now that wasn’t there just a couple of days ago. The Rangers started him five times last year, but they seemed to have liked him in bullpen. His overall numbers weren’t great (1-3, 5.46 ERA overall, but he allowed no runs in 4.1 innings in three games of relief.

Pomeranz, a lefty picked up from Colorado in the Brett Anderson trade, falls into much of that same situation. He pitched in eight games for the Rockies last year, starting four. He had an 8.10 ERA as a starter, but in five innings of relief over four games, he, too, didn’t allow a run.

Until this week, both men seemed likely to be heading to Triple-A Sacramento. Now, with injuries to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin opening up jobs, they have a chance to start in Sacramento.

To this point, Lindblom seems to have the edge. Both have pitched in four games, but Lindblom’s 3.32 ERA is about half of Pomeranz’s 6.23. But Pomeranz is scheduled to pitch in relief today in Scottsdale against the Giants, so he has a chance to bridge the gap.

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9×9: Non-tender deadline could reshape A’s

The A’s have some serious decisions to make before the evening is over.

The club has nine men on the roster who are arbitration eligible and by 9 p.m. this evening Oakland must decide which of the nine will be tendered contracts.

The group includes pitchers Jerry Blevins, Jesse Chavez and Fernando Rodriguez, catcher John Jaso, first basemen Daric Barton and Brandon Moss, shortstop Jed Lowrie and outfielders Josh Reddick and Seth Smith.

Those players who are tendered contracts are those the club is willing to go to salary arbitration with, although typically the A’s like to avoid arbitration whenever possible. Non-tendered players become free agents.

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Game 159 wrapup: Last two games aside, A’s have done well vs. top pitchers; It’s rookie hazing day for flight to Seattle

Dan Straily as Wolverine

Dan Straily as Wolverine

This is perhaps an odd time to concern oneself with the Oakland offense, but the A’s have gone from scoring early and often in game after game to having scored one run in the last two starts.

That in itself wouldn’t be too miserable if it were not for the fact that the A’s face Felix Hernandez in Seattle Friday and they haven’t scored a run off the King in two starts this year.

Having three of the final five games before the playoffs start be games in which they haven’t been able to score much is not the tone the A’s want to set.

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Game 29 wrapup: Montz an immediate contributor; Milone’s long day on the mound saves A’s bullpen

Luke Montz was just trying to be a good teammate Tuesday night.

A veteran catcher on the roster of the Sacramento River Cats, he was on the bench in Fresno when he and his teammates saw plenty not to like about a series of first inning ball-strike calls against outfielder Michael Choice.

Everybody spoke up, more than once. When the umpire had enough, he pointed to the bench and ejected … well, no one was quite sure who got ejected.

“I just jumped up,’’ Montz said. “I wasn’t in the lineup, so it made sense.’’

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Opportunity could knock for Josh Donaldson at third base

The latest from Papago …

Josh Donaldson is a player who might factor largely in the A’s third base picture if Scott Sizemore misses significant time with a knee injury. Sizemore was scheduled for an MRI on his left knee at 9:30 a.m. (MT) Monday, and manager Bob Melvin said he wasn’t expecting results until later in the afternoon. But the A’s are preparing alternative options at third, and Donaldson, a catcher who has been getting increased time at third early in camp, has caught Melvin’s eye.

Adam Rosales and Eric Sogard – the other logical third base options – will continue working all over the infield as utility men. Donaldson will focus solely on third. “Everybody likes his actions,” Melvin said. “He worked double-time yesterday and was already doing some early work today. You can tell he’s got a little different pep in his step right now. Guys sense an opportunity and I like to see that. Yesterday just looked like a day where he sensed a hole.”

The A’s acquired Donaldson, 26, during the 2008 season from the Chicago Cubs as part of a four-player package for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. At that time, a few scouts told me they thought Donaldson might be a hidden gem in that deal. But his only big league time so far came in 2010, when he got in 14 games at catcher and hit .156 with a homer and four RBIs.

One player who won’t be playing any third right now is Grant Green, the 2009 first-round pick who the A’s converted from shortstop to center field last season. Some scouts projected Green as an eventual third baseman when he was drafted out of USC, but the A’s want him focusing solely on learning center. That makes sense to me. There’s no use throwing another major switch at the guy, although I do wonder what the addition of Yoenis Cespedes (another center field option) means for Green long-term. I think the A’s would like Green and Michael Choice to be as ready as possible to play center and then switch them to a corner spot if roster needs call for it.

More to come on Sizemore later in the day …

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Oakland A’s winter meetings update: Day Two

Scratch the Toronto Blue Jays off the list of potential teams targeting closer Andrew Bailey. Toronto acquired Sergio Santos from the Chicago White Sox and plans to plug him in at closer. I’d heard Tuesday that the A’s and Jays engaged in some pretty serious talks about Bailey.

While the buzz continues over which trades Oakland might make, there are other roster-related issues to consider. Here’s a few:

–It’s looking less and less likely that Hideki Matsui will be back in an Oakland uniform. That was the clear impression from manager Bob Melvin and GM Billy Beane in their comments Monday night. As the roster currently stands, Melvin said Chris Carter – who has terrific power but has hit .167 in 39 career big league games – might be the most logical man at DH. But you can toss a couple other first-base candidates – Brandon Allen and Kila Ka’aihue — into the mix as well. “Conceivably, we have a number of guys that can go into that role,” Beane said. “It’s a matter of one of those guys grasping the opportunity and running with it.” Melvin is a huge Matsui fan – the two have dined together twice recently in New York – but he also sounded skeptical about a Godzilla return.

–As I mentioned yesterday, the A’s are very likely to explore the free agent market for outfielders to plug in on a short-term basis. Beane said the team talked with Laynce Nix before he signed with Philadelphia.

–Regarding first base, Melvin said defensive ability would play a factor into who wins that job, given the A’s team-wide struggles with the glove last season. Is that bad news for Carter, who is hardly the slickest fielder? Melvin said he thought Carter looked more comfortable defensively toward the end of last season. But you figure if Brandon Allen – who showed good potential defensively – can hit at all in the spring and cut down on strikeouts, he might have the inside track. He offers the best combo of power and competent defense.

–Something to watch in spring training is whether new (and old) pitching coach Curt Young can help Trevor Cahill return to his All-Star form. “That’s why we targeted Curt and thought he could be an important piece for us here,” Melvin said. Young served as the A’s pitching coach from 2004-10 before spending last season in the same role with Boston.

–Melvin spoke highly of outfielders Michael Choice and Grant Green – the A’s top two hitting prospects – but he suggested that Choice (a 2010 first-round pick) could be on the faster track to the bigs. Choice hit 30 homers last season with Single-A Stockton and the initial thought was that another full season in the minors was needed. But Melvin believes there’s a chance Choice might force his way into the picture next season. “I think Michael Choice is coming along a lot quicker than people would have thought,” he said. While it might be a stretch to expect Choice to make the big league club this spring, Melvin added: “There always seems to be a couple guys that pop up in spring training that do something that you don’t expect.”

Green, the A’s 2009 first-round pick, has more professional experience under his belt, but considering he just converted from shortstop to center field midway through last season, it’s not surprising that Choice might be on the faster track as of now.

In case you missed it, check out my story from the first day of the winter meetings