The A’s made what are likely their last roster trims in Arizona Sunday when they optioned first baseman Nate Freiman and pitchers Josh Lindblom and Arnold Leon to Triple-A Sacramento.
Lindblom, who had a hitless, scoreless 4.2 innings against the Mariners Sunday before the M’s tagged him in the fifth, was in the mix in the bullpen, but with the A’s short two starting pitchers to the disabled list in Jarrod Parker (Tommy John surgery) and A.J. Griffin (elbow), both he and Leon will be starters for the RiverCats.
“We’re two down in the rotation,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “We need backup.’’
Lindblom served as starter and reliever in the big leagues with the Rangers last year after having been exclusively a reliever with the Dodgers and Phillies. He threw 4.2 innings without allowing a hit or a run Sunday against the Mariners before being tagged for two runs and lifted in a game the A’s lost in the bottom of the ninth, 6-4.
Lindblom said he long since learned how fruitless it was for players to play general manager, ended his spring with a 4.02 ERA and knowing that he’ll be a starter, which is what he would prefer.
Leon, too, made an impact with Melvin this spring with a 2.13 ERA in five games, including one start. The manager called him “highly impressive.’’
As for Freiman, he was a Rule 5 player last year, so the A’s had to keep him on the roster or lose him. This time around, he has options, so the club can send him down without risking losing him. And he needs more at-bats, because 2013 saw him serve almost exclusively against left-handed pitching.
“Nate needs to build up at-bats,’’ Melvin said. “Last year we needed him against left-handed pitchers, and he prepared for that. But he needs to get at-bats against right-handers and play every day.’’
Freiman hit four homers last year after having hit 42 combined in 2011 and 2012 in the minor leagues. Melvin suggests the power will return.
“The power comes when he gets more at-bats,’’ the manager said. “It’s easier to track the ball.’’
Melvin said the A’s won’t be making any more cuts before the Bay Bridge series, which means non-roster outfielder Billy Burns has opened enough eyes that he’ll be in the mix this weekend in San Francisco and Oakland.
“It’s pretty awesome,’’ Melvin said of Burns having made it this far. “I don’t know that he would have through that this would have been the case for him, but he’s earned every bit of it.’’
Burns had two more hits in Peoria Sunday, has 20 hits for the spring and is averaging .313. And let’s not forget the Major League-high 10 steals the fleet Burns had. One of his two hits Sunday was a bunt to the right side that only the fastest of men could have beaten out.