The A’s on Saturday afternoon released the roster they expect to carry into Opening Day but encountered uncertainty in their starting rotation.
Left-hander Felix Doubront started the A’s 4-1 Bay Bridge Series win over the Giants but exited after one inning with tightness in his left forearm and was to have an MRI exam after the game. Doubront is supposed to open the season as the A’s fifth starter, and manager Bob Melvin said he did not know whether this affects that plan.
“He said he’s had it before; I’m not sure when,” Melvin said of Doubront’s arm tightness. “I don’t want to get ahead of myself. We’ll see what the MRI says and then go from there.”
If Doubront were unavailable, the A’s would likely replace him with right-hander Jesse Hahn, who was optioned to Triple-A Nashville last week after posting an 11.15 ERA in five spring training outings. Hahn made 16 starts for the A’s last season, going 6-6 with a 3.35 ERA, and was expected to open this season in Oakland before his struggles in the Cactus League.
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“Jesse Hahn’s a guy who is not here with us right now, but he is,” Melvin said. “I mean, this is a guy we are going to have during the course of the season.”
In finalizing their roster, the A’s also placed infielder Eric Sogard on the disabled list with a neck strain, a move that gives clarity to their bench.
Along with catchers Josh Phegley and Stephen Vogt, the A’s will carry six infielders – Yonder Alonso, Billy Butler, Mark Canha, Jed Lowrie, Marcus Semien and Danny Valencia – and five outfielders – Billy Burns, Chris Coghlan, Coco Crisp, Khris Davis and Josh Reddick.
Sonny Gray, Rich Hill, Chris Bassitt, Kendall Graveman and Doubront – for now – form the rotation. The bullpen consists of John Axford, Ryan Dull, Liam Hendriks, Ryan Madson, Fernando Rodriguez, Marc Rzepczynski and closer Sean Doolittle.
Davis was among the new A’s players making their first appearance at O.co Coliseum in Saturday’s preseason finale and the left fielder made a quick impression, hitting a 2-2 curveball from Matt Cain for a home run in his first at-bat. Davis hit 27 home runs last season with Milwaukee and the A’s acquired him believing his power would translate to their larger park.
“It was a relief,” Davis said of the homer. “But I told you guys: This ballpark won’t hold me.”
Other strong introductions belonged to infield prospect Matt Chapman – Oakland’s 2014 first-round draft pick who hit his sixth home run of the spring to finish with the team lead – and left-hander Eric Surkamp, a former Giants pitcher who replaced Doubront and threw seven scoreless innings.
Surkamp is not on the A’s 40-man roster but is expected to start the year at Triple-A Nashville and could be another candidate for rotation depth along with Oakland’s top pitching prospect, left-hander Sean Manaea.
“Talk about making an impression,” Melvin said of Surkamp. “He has to an extent this camp, but today was quite the impression because you’re pitching in our park with our fans there. We’d lost a couple of games, wanted to put on a good show, and he certainly did.”
The A’s will be off Sunday before opening the season Monday night at home against the White Sox, with Sonny Gray opposing Chicago left-hander Chris Sale.
Giants roster – The Giants also set their Opening Day roster, which has been apparent for much of the spring. It includes catchers Buster Posey and Trevor Brown; infielders Ehire Adrianza, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Matt Duffy, Joe Panik and Kelby Tomlinson; and outfielders Gregor Blanco, Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence and Denard Span.
Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Jake Peavy and Cain – who made his final spring training start Saturday, allowing three runs (one earned) over five innings – make up the rotation. The eight-man bullpen consists of Cory Gearrin, Chris Heston, George Kontos, Javier Lopez, Josh Osich, Sergio Romo, Hunter Strickland and closer Santiago Casilla.