The A’s will get their first look Saturday at right-hander Aaron Brooks, one of the prospects they acquired in the Ben Zobrist trade with Kansas City, who will start against the Cleveland Indians. To make roster room for Brooks, the A’s designated Eric O’Flaherty for assignment.
O’Flaherty was a somewhat risky signing before the 2014 season – for two years and $7 million – that didn’t really pan out. The left-hander was coming off Tommy John surgery and missed the first part of the 2014 season while completing his recovery. He returned to post a 2.25 ERA in 21 games for the A’s last season, but he struggled this year, recording a 5.91 ERA in 25 appearances.
The A’s maintained during O’Flaherty’s time in Oakland that they believed he could get right- and left-handers out and pitch late in games for them. But he missed a month early this season with a left shoulder strain and never really settled in. While he held lefties to a .186 batting average, right-handers hit .420 against him.
“It’s not uncommon after Tommy John that it takes a while (to bounce back), some guys more than others,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said Saturday. “I think, at least with the performance in the past compared to now, with him it’s taken a little longer.”
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O’Flaherty was a lights-out reliever for several seasons in the Braves’ bullpen before his injury, and Melvin indicated a change of scenery could benefit the left-hander.
“I know he was frustrated with it,” Melvin said. “But that doesn’t mean at some point in time it won’t come around for him. But we had to make a move, obviously – and it was tough to do, because we were invested in him some, but that’s the decision that we came up with.”
▪ The A’s other new pitcher, Felix Doubront, hadn’t arrived as of Saturday afternoon, but Melvin said Doubront could still join the team Saturday evening. If so, the A’s planned to activate Doubront on Sunday – which will require another 25-man roster move – and then decide whether he’ll be used as a starter or reliever.
▪ Sean Doolittle threw his second bullpen session off of a mound Saturday – 31 pitches this time – and said it went “really well.” Melvin said the A’s are still figuring out the next step for Doolittle, but that his past two sessions have been encouraging, indicating Doolittle could face hitters soon.
▪ Coco Crisp is scheduled to play his fifth rehab game for High-A Stockton on Saturday and could rejoin the A’s on Sunday after an evaluation.
▪ Jesse Hahn, meanwhile, is progressing slowly recovering from a forearm strain – and opening the possiblity that the right-hander would not pitch again for the A’s this season. Melvin said Hahn is still doing strength work and has not thrown a ball yet. Hahn already underwent one Tommy John surgery in 2011, and while he said after landing on the DL that doctors had told him the ligament was OK and intact, the A’s don’t see any need to push Hahn’s return given that history and their current record.
“We’re going to be careful with him,” Melvin said. “If we feel like we can get him back and throwing, we’ll get him in a game. But it’s not paramount that we feel like we need to. He has shown us plenty of what he can do this year.”
Hahn was 6-6 with a 3.35 ERA in 16 starts before going on the DL. His absence and the trade of Scott Kazmir has taken a bite out of a rotation that has the lowest ERA in the American League (3.45).
“It was tough losing (Hahn) and we’ve felt that pain since he’s been out of the rotation,” Melvin said. “So we want to make sure we’re extra-careful with him.”
The A’s lineup Saturday against Indians right-hander Cody Anderson:
And the Indians’ lineup against Aaron Brooks: