San Francisco Giants

Oakland A’s notes: Johnson a question mark for series opener against Mariners

OAKLAND -- A’s manager Bob Melvin said it’s possible he might not go to new closer Jim Johnson if the A’s have a lead tonight in the ninth inning -- but only because Johnson threw so many pitches (29) in blowing a save opportunity Wednesday night.

Johnson has two losses and a 45.00 ERA in his first two appearances with the A’s. Late Wednesday night he shouldered the blame for the A’s 1-2 record, saying the team should be 3-0, so he’s not lacking for accountability -- something Melvin also said came through when the two talked Wednesday night.

"Everything gets real magnified when you’re in the closer’s role, number one, because when you have a bad day, the team loses," Melvin said. "Number two, he’s with a new team. Number three, it’s happened the first couple times he’s been out there. So it gets magnified in that case and that’s just the way it is.

"He’s looking forward to getting out there and getting going in the opposite direction, a direction he’s been in basically his whole career since he’s been closing."

Melvin reiterated that Johnson appears to be getting hurt on pitches left up in the zone, which may mean the closer just needs to make a mechanical adjustment.

"He is a guy that usually is down in the zone, gets a lot of ground balls," Melvin said. "When sinkerballers get the ball up, they give up some hits."

Melvin didn’t explicitly rule Johnson out tonight, saying he’d check on the right-hander after pre-game work. It’s a long season, though, so while Melvin said Johnson wants to get back into another save situation as quickly as possible, Melvin probably won’t push it.

The A’s open a four-game series against the Seattle Mariners tonight, with Jesse Chavez making his first start for Oakland. Here’s the lineup behind him:

CF Crisp

3B Donaldson

SS Lowrie

DH Cespedes

C Norris

1B Callaspo

RF Reddick

2B Punto

LF Fuld

And the lineup for the Mariners, who start left-hander Roenis Elias, making his major-league debut:

CF Almonte

SS Miller

2B Cano

1B Smoak

DH Hart

3B Seager

RF Morrison

LF Ackley

C Zunino

* This will be the first regular-season game for Alberto Callaspo at first base, after the A’s started experimenting with him in a platoon there this spring. Melvin said Callaspo, who didn’t even have a first baseman’s glove when he started playing games there, has gotten more comfortable with the position, though it’s still "a work in progress."

Melvin also said he doesn’t think Callaspo’s being a relatively small target for the A’s infielders -- he’s listed at 5-foot-9 -- is much of an issue. "He’s not that much shorter than Daric Barton," Melvin said. "Maybe an inch or two."

* The A’s announced earlier today that outfielder Michael Taylor had cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento, where Taylor has played each of the past four seasons. Taylor had a good spring, batting .274 with three home runs and 10 RBIs, but apparently it wasn’t enough to attract the attention of other major-league teams.

"I was kind of surprised, with the spring that he had," Melvin said. "But you know what, we’re certainly glad to have him still in our organization."

Infielder Hiro Nakajima, who had been added to the 40-man roster when Taylor was designated for assignment, was also outrighted to Sacramento this morning. The A’s placed infielder Jake Elmore on the 15-day disabled list as well with a strained left quadriceps, retroactive to March 28, voiding his March 29 option.

Elmore strained the quad during the March 28 Bay Bridge series game against the San Francisco Giants, with Melvin saying it "bothered him more so than we thought when he was sent down."