OAKLAND -- Finalizing the A’s opening day roster on Saturday included what manager Bob Melvin termed "maybe the most difficult (cut) I’ve ever had to do" -- telling catcher Stephen Vogt he’d been sent to Triple-A.
The A’s opted to carry a pair of left-handed hitting first basemen in Brandon Moss and Daric Barton into the season, along with the catching platoon of Derek Norris and John Jaso. That left little room for Vogt, who despite hitting .364 this spring and being a key player for the A’s in the second half last season still had options and will begin the year in Sacramento.
"That’s a tough one on everybody -- not only myself, but the front office, the coaches, certainly him," Melvin said. "Is he going to be here at some point in time this year? I don’t see how he can’t be. But very difficult."
Other decisions were more clear-cut. The A’s rounded out their bullpen with left-handers Fernando Abad and Drew Pomeranz and righty Evan Scribner, with Pomeranz claiming the final spot over fellow lefty Joe Savery. Pomeranz, who recorded a 2.84 ERA with 20 strikeouts and three walks in 12 2/3 innings this spring, could be the first to go when set-up man Ryan Cook is ready to rejoin the team. Cook will start the season on the 15-day DL but is eligible to come off Saturday.
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Sam Fuld, a non-roster invitee to camp, made the team as a fourth outfielder with his ability to handle all three positions. Fuld, who hit .271 in spring with four triples, may also be looking at a short stay as outfielder Craig Gentry can also return from the DL Saturday and was acquired for the backup outfield job.
The full 25-man roster is as follows:
Rotation (5): RHP Sonny Gray, LHP Scott Kazmir, RHP Jesse Chavez, RHP Dan Straily, LHP Tommy Milone
Bullpen (7): RHP Jim Johnson, LHP Sean Doolittle, RHP Luke Gregerson, RHP Dan Otero, LHP Fernando Abad, RHP Evan Scribner, LHP Drew Pomeranz
Catchers (2): John Jaso, Derek Norris
Infielders (7): Daric Barton, Alberto Callaspo, Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Moss, Nick Punto, Eric Sogard
Outfielders (4): Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Sam Fuld, Josh Reddick
Fuld’s selection came at the expense of another former Cardinal in Michael Taylor, who was designated for assignment despite a strong spring. Taylor, who has spent most of the past four seasons at Triple-A Sacramento and is out of options, hit .274 with three homers and 10 RBIs. Now he must wait to see whether he’ll be claimed by another team or traded, or if he’ll clear waivers and return to Sacramento.
Melvin said Taylor "really impressed" this spring, and that he "can’t imagine (interest in Taylor) is not better than it’s ever been for him. … As an organization we’d like to keep him, but as a human being you want the best to happen for him."
Taylor was acquired by the A’s in 2009 and totaled 74 at-bats over the last three seasons in short call-ups to Oakland, but hit .135. "Obviously I’m a little sad, because there are guys here that I’ve grown up with in the game," he said. "(But) there just wasn’t room, and now you kind of get an opportunity to see where you stand. So that’s exciting."
Vogt, meanwhile, took the news of his demotion emotionally. Vogt earned the trust of the A’s staff quickly last season when called up to replace the injured Jaso, and wound up catching all five games of the A.L. Division Series. He took some solace in Melvin’s words that "they are looking to get me back up here."
"This is such a great team and a fun team, it’s just hard to not necessarily be a physical part of it at the beginning of the year," Vogt said, with his voice cracking. "I think that’s the hardest part for me is just, I love these guys."
* Melvin sounded impressed with Savery, the last man out of the bullpen race, who will remain a reliever in Triple-A. "Definitely the bullpen is what we feel like he’s best suited for," Melvin said. "But he has a repertoire to be able to get right-handers out, too."
* Fuld said it’s "nice to sort of I guess defeat some odds" in making the team as a non-roster invitee, and that he’ll try not to dwell on Gentry’s impending return. "Nothing good is really going to come out of looking down the road too far," he said. "Obviously I’m aware of that and, you know, all I can do is make the most of any opportunity I get starting on Monday."
* Along with Cook (right shoulder tendinitis) and Gentry (lower back strain), the A’s announced A.J. Griffin (flexor muscle strain) and reliever Fernando Rodriguez (Tommy John surgery) will begin the season on the 15-day DL. All are retroactive to March 21 and eligible to be reinstated Saturday.
In order to designate Taylor for assignment, the A’s filled his spot on the 40-man roster by selecting infielder Hiro Nakajima from Triple-A. Nakajima will officially be optioned to Sacramento and start the season there.
* Melvin said outfielder Billy Burns, who opened eyes with a .306 average and 10 stolen bases this spring, will start the season at Double-A Midland. Melvin did say that "from everything we’ve seen, he’ll be a big leaguer at some point."
* Saturday’s finale of the Bay Bridge exhibition series was rained out. The A’s had planned to use both Dan Straily and Tommy Milone against the Giants, and instead the two starters threw simulated innings off the bullpen mound at the Coliseum.
* The A’s have Sunday off and are back in action Monday for Opening Night against Cleveland, with Sonny Gray scheduled to take the ball for a 7:05 p.m. start. There’s already some concern about the forecast, though, as rain is called for both Monday and Tuesday.