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06/26/12 11:35 PM ET

Balfour thriving back in setup role for A's

SEATTLE -- Stripped of closer duties following a rough stretch, A's righty Grant Balfour has found his groove again in the setup role he's occupied for the majority of his career.

Anointed the closer out of Spring Training, Balfour made good on that decision, allowing just one run over his first 10 appearances while picking up five saves. Yet he proceeded to surrender seven runs combined in the six outings that followed, leading manager Bob Melvin to give Brian Fuentes a try at the ninth inning.

Fuentes' stint there proved even shorter, and Ryan Cook has since slid into the role. Meanwhile, Balfour has quietly returned to top form, having not allowed a run over his past nine games entering Tuesday, marking a stretch of 10 2/3 scoreless innings.

Balfour now has a 0.77 ERA in 10 games in June after posting a 3.65 ERA in 13 games in May and a 4.09 mark in 11 April appearances.

"I think he's been very consistent in the setup role," Melvin said. "The only really rough patch he had was closing. I think it was maybe coincidental that the tough period he had came then."

Hicks makes first big league start at first base

SEATTLE -- Just as the game of musical chairs has continuously turned at first base for the A's this season, so too has the rotation of gloves used there.

In giving Brandon Moss his first day off since he joined the club on June 6, manager Bob Melvin handed Brandon Hicks his first Major League start at the position Tuesday against the Mariners. Hicks, naturally, doesn't have a first baseman's glove, so he's borrowing the one owned by Jonny Gomes. Even Moss doesn't have one, as he's been renting from Adam Rosales.

The 26-year-old Hicks, promoted from Triple-A Sacramento just three days ago, has limited experience at first base, having played there just three times in the Minors for Atlanta's Triple-A team last season. Positioning, he said, presents the biggest challenge. Otherwise, he's confident in his ability there.

"I feel comfortable over there," said Hicks, a natural middle infielder. "The first time I played there last year, I was a little uneasy about it, anxious, because I hadn't been there."

"We targeted Hicks being here and playing against left-handed pitching, so that was kind of an easy one, having him give Moss a day off at first," said Melvin, who plugged Hicks into the No. 2 spot. "He's a true infielder. Infielders that play the middle can typically play anywhere."

Entering Tuesday, Hicks was 2-for-6 -- both hits were doubles -- in two games with the A's, coming on the heels of a torrid stretch at Sacramento during which he went 12-for-28 (.429) with six home runs and 18 RBIs over eight games.

"I think I was putting myself in a good position to see the ball," he said. "At the beginning of the season, I had a lot of movement with my body. I'm hoping to carry over what I was doing there.

"I think there's a lot of opportunity here with the movement they have going on. I think they like bringing young guys up and giving them an opportunity right away to prove themselves."

Worth noting

• As expected, Yoenis Cespedes made his return to the outfield on Tuesday, starting in center field against the Mariners. It followed a stretch of six consecutive starts at designated hitter after the outfielder missed nine of the previous 10 games with a strained left hamstring.

• The A's announced Tuesday that right-hander Danny Farquhar was claimed off waivers by the Yankees. Farquhar was initially claimed off waivers by the A's from Toronto on June 9 and was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento that day. He went 1-2 with a 10.13 ERA in five relief appearances with the River Cats before he was designated for assignment on Sunday when the A's selected A.J. Griffin.

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.