CHC@OAK: Freiman hits a single and scores two

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The A's on Sunday whittled down their roster to a group that's expected to travel to Oakland for the upcoming annual Bay Bridge Series.

Oakland optioned right-handers Josh Lindblom and Arnold Leon and first baseman Nate Freiman to Triple-A Sacramento following Sunday's split-squad games, leaving the club with 35 players in camp.

Lindblom and Leon will be stretched out with the River Cats and provide the big league club needed starting-pitching depth. Lefty Drew Pomeranz remains in camp but is expected to do the same.

Lindblom opened with four no-hit innings in a start against the Mariners on Sunday before allowing a two-run homer in the fifth in an otherwise-impressive outing.

"Two down in the rotation, we need some depth behind them," said manager Bob Melvin, "so the decision was either use him for length or stretch him out, and we feel like we need to stretch him out and have him ready to start."

Freiman was on the A's 25-man roster for the entirety of the 2013 season -- minus a brief DL stint -- in part because they would've lost him as a Rule 5 pick if he was taken off it. He performed well in a platoon role at first base, but the A's would like to further groom him at Triple-A now that they can do so without any repercussions.

"He just needs to go down and develop and get at-bats against lefties, righties, everybody," Melvin said. "A young guy like that needs to get some at-bats and play against right-handers as well."

Based on Sunday's news, it's fairly certain that Cactus League fan-favorite Billy Burns will get the chance to play in a big league park during Oakland's three-game exhibition series with the Giants on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The speedster is batting .313 with a team-leading 20 hits and 10 stolen bases, and also leads in at-bats with 64, eight more than anyone else.

Following the Bay Bridge Series, Burns is expected to be optioned to the Minors, with Oakland already carrying Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick and Sam Fuld as its four outfielders.

"We always felt like this was a guy we wanted to take a hard look at," said Melvin. "Obviously we didn't expect him to get as many at-bats at this point. But he's impressed, definitely. I don't know that he would've thought this would happen for him, but he's earned every bit of it."

Gentry and Cook will begin season on DL for A's

Outlook: Solid Cook unlikely to see many save chances

PHOENIX -- A's manager Bob Melvin on Sunday made official what had been speculated all along by announcing that outfielder Craig Gentry and righty reliever Ryan Cook will begin the season on the disabled list.

Both will be limited to Minor League games in the coming week, allowing the A's to backdate their DL stints to March 21. This means Gentry and Cook will be eligible for reinstatement as early as April 4, and Melvin said he expects both to be ready by then.

Gentry's temporary absence, brought on by a lower back strain suffered early in camp, paves the way for Sam Fuld to make the roster. Fuld's first opt-out date is Wednesday, but he's now essentially a lock for the Opening Day roster after impressing his new employers this spring, particularly with his defense in all three outfield positions.

The odd man out here is Michael Taylor, despite a breakthrough spring performance. Out of options, Taylor entered Sunday hitting .308 with five doubles and three home runs in 52 at-bats, making him prime trade bait for the A's.

"He is certainly playing his way to an elevated role," Melvin said of Taylor, "but this will probably go all the way down to the end with him."

With Cook unavailable on Opening Day, the A's are likely to carry lefty Joe Savery in a bullpen that's also expected to include Jim Johnson, Sean Doolittle, Luke Gregerson, Dan Otero, Evan Scribner and Fernando Abad.

Offseason acquisitions Josh Lindblom and Drew Pomeranz are technically still in the mix, but they're more likely to begin the season at Triple-A Sacramento to be stretched out and provide starting depth, which is even more significant for a club that is without injured pitchers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin.

Right-hander Fernando Rodriguez, already pitching in Minor League games after undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring, will also start the season on the DL, as expected.