Three lefties battling for final spots in A's bullpen

Three lefties battling for final spots in A's bullpen
March 28, 2014, 7:30 pm
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Fernando Abad, Drew Pomeranz and Joe Savery are likely competing for the final two spots in the A's bullpen. (AP)

SAN FRANCISCO – The exact makeup of the A’s bullpen won’t be known until Saturday’s final cuts, but it appears certain that Oakland will carry three lefties in its seven-man relief corps. Closer Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson, Dan Otero and left-hander Sean Doolittle are locks for the ‘pen. Evan Scribner appears on solid ground for the fifth spot. That leaves three southpaws battling for the final two spots – Fernando Abad, Drew Pomeranz and Joe Savery. Manager Bob Melvin wasn’t confirming anything before Friday’s game against the Giants.

“The guys that will make the team won’t know until tomorrow, and the guys that aren’t won’t know until tomorrow,” Melvin said.

Final rosters aren’t due until 1 p.m. Sunday, but the A’s usually announce their 25-man roster by Saturday night.

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Judging from Melvin’s comments, however, it seems apparent that Abad has pitched his way on to the club. The lefty’s 3.48 ERA doesn’t reflect how well he’s pitched. He’s allowed runs in just three of his 10 outings, and he’s struck out 11 without issuing a single walk.

“Definitely, he’s put himself in a good position to possibly make the team,” Melvin said. “He’s throwing consistently 95 (mph) every time out, or at least he hits 95. He’s had a very good breaking ball for left-handers. He does throw a changeup. But if he’s in a role we’re potentially targeting him for, he’s not gonna need to go out there and establish three pitches.”

It figures that the A’s might target Abad as a bit of a lefty specialist. Melvin also has mentioned the team needs a long reliever, and that battle seems to come down to Pomeranz and Savery. Both Melvin and general manager Billy Beane have spoken well of Pomeranz this spring, and of his potential to be a long man for the big league club.

The other option is sending Pomeranz to the minors and stretching him out to start.

“If he gets his breaking ball over, it’s going to make his fastball that much more effective, and he has been able to get his breaking ball over, and you’ve seen the results,” Melvin said. “We’re thrilled to death with what he’s accomplished for us this spring.

“We target him potentially for length. At this point in time, if he makes the team it will be more of a length role out of the bullpen.”

The composition of the bullpen will change in a short time, as setup man Ryan Cook (shoulder inflammation) seems ready to come off the disabled list on the first day he’s eligible (April 5) or shortly after.

The other roster question marks involve the catcher/first base situation and the fourth outfielder.

There are strong signs that the A’s will keep John Jaso and Derek Norris as their two catchers, with Stephen Vogt the odd man out because he has options left. Rather than keep three catchers, the A's seem to be leanign toward taking Daric Barton as an extra first baseman to go with Brandon Moss.

In the outfield, Sam Fuld seems the choice to stick over Michael Taylor because of his ability to play center field and spell Coco Crisp.