05/06/12 2:42 PM ET
Melvin continues A's lineup shuffle
By Jim Hawkins / Special to MLB.com
But Melvin insisted he was merely taking advantage of the A's off-day on Monday in order to give some of his regulars some extra rest.
"We're always looking to get the best possible lineup up there on a particular day," Melvin explained.
Slumping Jemile Weeks, who went 0-for-6 Saturday night and is 2-for-24 on this road trip -- dropping his average to .174 -- and who continues to experience tightness in his groin, was replaced at second base by utility man Eric Sogard, while Cliff Pennington batted in Weeks' leadoff spot.
"[Weeks] has been grinding pretty hard at the plate," Melvin said. "I think a couple of days off might serve him well."
Michael Taylor, recalled on Friday from Triple-A Sacramento, was in right field and batting second.
"With Coco [Crisp] and Weeks both out of there, somebody has to hit up there," Melvin explained.
Anthony Recker replaced Kurt Suzuki behind the plate, while Saturday's home run hero Jonny Gomes started in left field, Daric Barton was at first base, and Brandon Inge moved back to the sixth spot in the order.
A's preparing for Manny's return
ST. PETERSBURG -- A's manager Bob Melvin expects the buzz in Oakland over Manny Ramirez's return to the Major Leagues to increase as the end of his 50-game suspension on May 30 draws closer.
The A's plan to send Ramirez, who remains at extended spring training in Phoenix, on a 10-game Minor League assignment before they call him up.
Ramirez, who signed a Minor League contract with the A's, is currently suspended for violating baseball's drug policy for a second time.
"He knows where he is in his career," Melvin said. "And he knows the effect he can have on young guys."
As for Ramirez's role when he returns, Melvin said Sunday, "We've got to get there first."
"DH has been his role and that's what we envision him doing," Melvin continued. "We'll have to see what we'll do, roster-wise."
Ramirez, a career .312 hitter with 555 home runs and 1,813 RBIs to his credit, batted .059 in five games with Tampa Bay last season.
This will be Ramirez's 20th Major League season. Ramirez will turn 40 on May 30, when the A's are scheduled to play in Minnesota.
Melvin expects bullpen to take right turn
ST. PETERSBURG -- On Sunday, the A's were still talking about Saturday night's seven sterling shutout innings by the bullpen, in relief of the ailing Bartolo Colon.
"It was amazing what they did," Colon declared. "And they've been doing it all season."
But with four left-handers in Oakland's seven-man bullpen, manager Bob Melvin said he expects right-handers Fautino De Los Santos, Andrew Carigan and Neil Wagner to be back with the A's at some point this season.
"It's tough to only have three right-handers, and one [Jim Miller] being a long guy," Melvin admitted. "And [Ryan] Cook and [Grant] Balfour are the guys you expect to pitch the eighth and ninth."
That doesn't leave the manager with a lot of options.
Brian Fuentes, Jerry Blevins, Pedro Figueroa and Jordan Norberto are the A's lefty relievers.
Melvin has talked about testing Figueroa, who has shown the ability to get right-handed hitters out, in some higher-pressure situations.
Cook has appeared in 12 games this season and pitched 14 1/3 innings, without allowing a run. No other American League reliever has pitched that much without yielding a run.
"That's phenomenal, especially for a rookie," Melvin said Sunday. "He continues to impress. And being the eighth-inning guy -- I don't even want to talk about it."
Because of the off-day on Monday, the A's have decided to switch starting pitchers for the upcoming two-game series against Toronto. Brandon McCarthy will now start Tuesday and Jarrod Parker will start Wednesday.
Parker (1-0, 1.38 ERA), has not give up more than one run in any of his three Major League starts and has pitched at least five innings in each. Parker is just the second pitcher since 1990, along with Rich Harden of the A's in 2003, to begin his career like that.
Since 1918, no pitcher has begun his career with four consecutive outings of five innings or more and one run or fewer.
Tyson Ross, who has been hit hard in his last two starts, worked out Sunday morning under the watchful eyes of pitching coach Curt Young, bullpen coach Rick Rodriguez and roving minor league pitching instructor Gil Patterson.
Ross is scheduled to make his next start on Thursday against the Tigers.
Fuentes' two innings of one-hit relief on Saturday night earned him his second win of the season and marked his first outing of two innings or more since June 4, 2011. Fuentes has only allowed one run in 7 1/3 innings pitched on the road this season.
Gomes' game-winning 12th inning homer on Saturday night was only his second career go-ahead hit in extra innings. The other was an RBI double on June 10, 2009 with the Reds.
"I wasn't surprised," Melvin said. "He's always prepared."
Jim Hawkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.