Balfour, not Fuentes, to close for A's

March 21, 2012, 6:32 am
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Grant Balfour will open the season as the A's closer, beating out All-Star closer Brian Fuentes for the job, manager Bob Melvin announced Tuesday.Melvin told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that Balfour got the nod because of his impressive 2011 season and his vocal pitch to be the A's stopper."I let them know I'm hungry for the job," Balfour said, according to The Chronicle. "I really wanted it. ... I want to see what I can do in that situation. I'm pretty confident I can do it."Fuentes filled in for Andrew Bailey as the A's closer last season and struggled before voicing his displeasure with former manager Bob Geren's unclear bullpen roles. With 199 career saves, Fuentes was a contender for the role this season and expressed disappointment that he will not be taking the mound in the ninth inning of close games. However, he also said he will happily help out the less experienced Balfour."He has the stuff for sure," Fuentes told The Chronicle. "The last four, five years, he's been pitching at a high level, very effective. ... I think he can do it."

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