OAKLAND – Blake Treinen is back, in more ways than one.
The A's right-handed reliever was activated off the 10-day injured list Wednesday afternoon, and will return to the closer’s role despite some pre-shoulder ailment struggles and Liam Hendriks’ lights-out performance in his stead.
Oakland skipper Bob Melvin made that point clear before Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Twins.
The ninth inning still belongs to Treinen. Well, soon enough.
“We’ll give him one soft landing before we get him back doing what he’s normally doing,” Melvin said. “And congrats to Liam (on winning relief pitcher of the month). That’s quite a feather. He’s come a long way, not only from last year but from this year, where he started out to where he is now. It’s a credit to him for the hard work. It takes serious conviction, what he’s doing.”
Hendriks has been doing everything right lately. He was named the AL Reliever of the Month earlier Wednesday, after posting a 0.60 ERA and 22 strikeouts over 15 innings with two saves while filling in for Treinen in June.
That excellence prompted questions about the closer’s role, as much or more than anything else.
But Melvin was crystal clear why he isn’t moving Treinen out of the ninth.
“He has had a pretty good body of work for us,” Melvin said of a closer with 67 saves over two-plus seasons with Oakland. “We want to make sure he’s healthy and he gets out there. You can do all the minor-league rehabbing you want. It’s different when you get to the big-league level, so we want to get him at least a game under his belt where he feels comfortable.”
Treinen made one rehab appearance with Las Vegas, allowing three runs on four hits Monday night.
That stint was more about health than results, and Treinen came away feeling strong.
“It’s good to see the body respond well,” Treinen said. “I was able to get out there and compete a little bit, but it’s important to get back here around the guys. I just want to help continue this good thing we’ve got going and win a few games heading into the All-Star break.”
This stretch before the break offers Treinen a chance to get back in proper flow. He struggled some before going on the IL, allowing 10 runs and nine walks in his last 11 innings.
The A's are fortunate to have bullpen quality and numbers, so guys can slide in and stop individual skids before they impact the team.
“That’s why you try and create depth in your bullpen,” Melvin said. “When somebody gets hurt, or you’re not seeing the numbers you saw before, you have some depth and guys can step into different roles. That’s what we’re seeing right now.”