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08/05/09 10:30 PM ET

A's ink Tomko to Minor League deal

Veteran sent to Sacramento to stretch out as starter

OAKLAND -- In a move that went unannounced by the club, the A's on Monday signed right-hander Brett Tomko to a Minor League contract. On Wednesday, he reported to Triple-A Sacramento.

Tomko, 36, last week was released by the Yankees after going 1-2 with a 5.23 ERA in 16 relief appearances. He started the season at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre and went 1-0 with an 0.64 ERA in 10 relief outings.

Oakland assistant general manager David Forst told MLB.com that Tomko was scheduled to pitch in relief for the River Cats on Wednesday, and the A's plan to gradually "stretch him out" over the next couple of weeks with the goal of eventually having him available to the A's as a starter.

"He has a lot of experience as a big league starter," Forst said, "so it'll be nice to have another option once he's ready for that. But it's going to take a little time."

With four rookies in their starting rotation, all on pace to surpass their professional high in innings pitched, the A's are likely to scale back their workloads in the final four to six weeks of the season.

Tomko has pitched for nine teams in the Majors, with 260 of his 383 career appearances coming as a starter. His most recent full season as a starter came in 2004 with the Giants, for whom he went 8-15 with a 4.48 ERA.

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.