MESA, Ariz. — Don’t expect the battle for the A’s closer’s job to play out like a day-to-day drama.
Manager Bob Melvin said Cactus League results won’t play a heavy factor in choosing his ninth-inning man, and reiterating past sentiments, Melvin suggested multiple relievers are likely to be called upon for saves this season.
“We have four or five guys that have closed games before, so the tough part is identifying who is going to go where as the spring goes along,” Melvin said Wednesday. “… We feel we have a really good bullpen, and how that works out we’re not sure yet. We’ll have those conversations as spring moves along.”
John Axford, Santiago Casilla, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson have all notched at least 22 saves in a major league season, with Axford, Casilla and Madson posting 30-plus saves at least once. Rather than dwell right now on who he’ll call on in the ninth, Melvin said the key to the exhibition season is sorting out the sequence for all the late innings — seventh, eighth and ninth.
“If I want to run somebody 1 2/3 (innings), pick up the seventh and eighth, give him the day off the next day … we may do things a little differently this year,” he said. “But at this point, we’re still trying to calculate where we’re going with it.”
Regarding Casilla, Melvin isn’t pinpointing a day for when he expects his newest bullpen addition to report to camp. Casilla is being held up by visa paperwork in the Dominican Republic.
“Based on him signing late, we knew he’d be late” to camp, Melvin said. “I’m not worried about him not being here right now because we have such a long spring. His workloads have been pretty extensive the last few years.”
NOTEWORTHY : Sonny Gray, Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea all threw bullpen sessions, lined up in a row next to each other, during the A’s first workout of 2017. It just so happens those three will be counted on to anchor Oakland’s rotation this season.
Melvin said he liked what he saw from Gray, who is lined up to leave camp in early March and join Team USA should the Americans advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic.
NEW GUYS :The first full-squad workout isn’t until Sunday, but roughly half of A’s position players invited to camp are already taking part in informal workouts at Hohokam Stadium while pitchers and catchers work out down the street at the minor league facility. Among those on the field Wednesday was new third baseman Trevor Plouffe. Recently signed Adam Rosales was also there, though he doesn’t get the “new” label based on his stint in green and gold from 2010-13.
FAMILIAR FACE: On hand to watch batting practice at Hohokam was former A’s managing partner Lew Wolff. Wolff sold the majority of his ownership shares in November, but mentioned back then that he still planned be around the team this spring.
QUOTABLE Starting pitcher Jharel Cotton was asked his impressions of hard-throwing right-hander Frankie Montas, who cranks his fastball up around 100 miles per hour. Cotton recalled a scene from when he first watched Montas on the mound when both were Dodgers minor leaguers.
“I watched his bullpen to see what it was about. Of course, I had to throw a bullpen after that and i was like, ‘I can’t keep up with that.’ it was embarrassing for me.”