Matchups will dictate who closes for A's

Matchups will dictate who closes for A's
April 11, 2014, 6:15 pm
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Bob Melvin will let game-situations decide which pitcher gets the chance to close the game. (USATSI)

SEATTLE -- Sean Doolittle might be the favorite to close games for the Oakland A’s right now, but manager Bob Melvin reiterated he’ll continue to play matchups in the ninth inning.

With Jim Johnson having been stripped of closer duties for the time being, there’s an opening in save situations. Melvin said before Friday’s series opener at Seattle that Doolittle is a primary consideration simply because he’s the only lefty. So if an opponent has left-handed hitters slated to bat in the ninth, Doolittle is a natural option.

“But if we got in a situation where I wanted to use Doolittle and (Luke) Gregerson before the ninth, I can,” Melvin said. “(Dan) Otero can step into (the ninth). Those guys are used to coming in with traffic on the bases and getting some key outs. The ninth inning is the one you know is gonna be a clean inning for you.”

Otero, who emerged last season as a key man in the bullpen, surely earned more of Melvin’s confidence with his effort in Wednesday’s 7-4 victory over Minnesota in 11 innings. Otero relieved Johnson in the ninth and pitched the final 2 2/3 innings to get the win.

Otero threw 41 pitches Wednesday, and Melvin said he would check with him before the game on his availability.

“He’s a guy who’s real durable, his mechanics are simple,” Melvin said. “I wouldn’t rule him out.”

Ryan Cook is not in consideration to close, at least for now. Melvin said he wants to keep easing Cook back in the mix as he recently came off the disabled list.