OAKLAND – Craig Gentry came off the disabled list Friday, and Bob Melvin wasted little time getting him back in the mix.
Gentry is starting in left field for the opener of a pivotal three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, part of a right-handed heavy lineup against Angels lefty Hector Santiago.
As he’s done periodically this season, Melvin has Coco Crisp and Gentry hitting in the 1-2 spots, a speedy combo atop the lineup that he hopes can create some activity on the bases for a team that’s been held to three runs or fewer in seven of its past 10 games.
“It definitely gets the pitcher’s attention obviously when they’re getting on base,” Melvin said. “We’ve been lacking a little bit in our running here recently. (Gentry) is never afraid to run. He’s got a great percentage, he can steal off lefties. He creates a little more of a dynamic than we’ve had here since he’s been out.”
The flipside of Gentry’s addition is that reliever Dan Otero was the surprising choice to be sent down to open up a roster spot. Otero sports a 7-1 record and 2.28 ERA in 56 appearances. He leads American League relievers in wins and ranks second in innings pitched (71). He’s also been incredibly versatile, pitching anywhere from a long relief role to ninth inning duty.
But Otero also has minor league options left, and the fact that rosters expand Sept. 1 means he’s likely to return soon.
“He probably thought I was kidding at first,” Melvin said of breaking the news to Otero. “…That’s the balancing part of this. What’s there a bigger need for? We do have some starters that would suggest they’re gonna go deeper in games. … If we can get deeper into games, we feel like we’ve got 3 or 4 guys who can finish it out for us.”
Sam Fuld, playing right field, is the only pure left-handed hitter among the A’s starting nine. That means left-handed hitters Brandon Moss, Stephen Vogt, Josh Reddick and John Jaso are all on the bench to start Friday’s game. That’s partly a product of the Angels starting a lefty, but it’s also worth noting that the Angels have eight right-handers and no lefties in their bullpen Friday night.
Melvin will have plenty of left-handed hitters at his disposal for late-inning matchups if the A’s can get into the Angels’ bullpen.
The left-handed hitting Fuld is actually hitting lefties better than righties this season -- .277 to .253 – a trend that also holds for his entire career. By comparison, Reddick – the A’s regular right fielder who has been one of Oakland’s top hitters in recent weeks – is hitting just .181 against lefties this season.