Melvin: No changes imminent to A's closer situation

Published: Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014 - 12:01 pm

OAKLAND -- The A’s are 5-for-11 in save opportunities on the season after losing a one-run lead in the ninth Tuesday night against the Rangers. But manager Bob Melvin said this morning there are no plans right now to alter the current closer-by-committee system.

"The problem to an extent hasn’t been getting there (to the ninth), it’s been finishing it off," Melvin said. "And I think everybody’s had some struggles, whether it’s the ninth, and it’s something we’re going to have to try to figure out. I don’t know that there’s any set recipe at this point."

Melvin said the A’s will continue to "do the best we can with the matchups we can to try to finish off the game." Tuesday, it was Luke Gregerson pitching the ninth and coming within a strike of closing out the win before allowing an RBI double by Josh Wilson and game-winning single by Michael Choice.

Gregerson is 3-for-6 this season in save opportunities. When Jim Johnson was struggling early this season, Melvin said he sat down with Johnson to talk it through. He said today he does the same thing with all relievers, but that "as far as Gregerson goes, he’s a pretty tough guy. Certain guys need some coddling; he is not one of them."

Several players Tuesday night said there’s no faith lost in the bullpen, which actually has the sixth-lowest ERA in the majors and the lowest opponents’ average. As Melvin said, it has just been an issue of nailing down the final few outs -- or in Tuesday’s case, the very last one -- and that’s something that simply has to star happening.

"They (relievers) know it’s a little different right now than when we started the season and that when the phone rings, we’re going to do the best we can," Melvin said.

The A’s will try to salvage a game in this series behind Sonny Gray today. Here’s their starting lineup:

CF Gentry

SS Lowrie

3B Donaldson

LF Cespedes

C Norris

DH Callaspo

RF Reddick

2B Punto

1B Barton

And the Rangers starting lineup behind left-hander Martin Perez:

LF Choice

SS Andrus

RF Rios

1B Fielder

DH Moreland

2B Murphy

C Chirinos

CF Martin

3B Wilson

* As expected, Coco Crisp is not in the lineup with Melvin wanting to give Crisp a day off with sore ribs. Crisp is an option later in the game.

* Melvin was asked about opting to start Daric Barton over Brandon Moss today at first base. Moss is batting .254 and tied for fifth in the A.L. with 16 RBIs. Barton is batting .152, though they have similar averages in limited at-bats this season against lefties.

"You don’t want any particular guy sitting too long," Melvin said, referencing Barton. "And with two pitchers (today) with the ERAs that they have, defense could be important today. So it’s always a little bit of a balance to keep everybody involved."

Melvin pointed out the A’s will also have Moss available in a pinch-hit or high-leverage situation later in the game, "which is quite a luxury." But he said despite Moss’ numbers this year, there’s still no push to play Moss every day.

"I don’t think we’re there yet," Melvin said. "The way we’re set up, we’re set up to play a little bit differently. ... But look, it’s tough not to put him in the lineup, put it that way."

* With Prince Fielder up in the eighth inning of a tied game Tuesday, Melvin brought in Fernando Abad rather than lefty set-up man Sean Doolittle. Melvin said Doolittle was off limits because of his workload the past few days.

Abad, though, retired Fielder on a groundout after getting ahead of the slugger 0-2 on a 94 mph fastball that Fielder swung through. Fielder then rolled over a 79 mph slider for the groundout. Abad has not allowed a run in nine innings in his first nine appearances.

* Things with A.J. Griffin remain in a holding pattern. He’s doing strengthening work but hasn’t started throwing yet.

Another injury update (or non-update): Catcher Stephen Vogt is still sidelined at Triple-A Sacramento with what Melvin called a rib and oblique issue.

"Those things can be slow healers," Melvin said. "So he’s aware that he can’t rush that."


Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

Read more articles by Matt Kawahara



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