6/23/2013 10:22 P.M. ET
Off-days give A's bullpen needed rest
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Sunday concluded a stretch of 30 games in 31 days for the A's, who are now looking forward to three off-days over the next eight days.
Oakland will enjoy its first one Monday, and then one more after a two-game series with the visiting Reds. The third will come the following Monday, July 1.
Perhaps no one will enjoy these more than the bullpen arms, whose recent struggles, as rare as they are, might stem from the fatigue factor.
"You look at the results," manager Bob Melvin said, "and, yeah, maybe."
A's relievers Jerry Blevins and Ryan Cook, who are tied for 22nd in innings pitched (33 1/3) among American League relievers, gave up a combined five runs in Saturday's 7-5 loss to the Mariners. That upped the bullpen's total in the first six games on this road trip to 12 through 16 1/3 innings for a 6.61 ERA and a .324 opponents' average.
And that was before closer Grant Balfour, in a non-save situation, was charged for three runs in the 10th inning in Sunday's 6-3 loss.
"It's difficult, and I think they might be a little bit tired right now, which probably is natural," Melvin said. "We've had some close games, and these guys have been in a lot of games. It taxes you. So this is going to be a good little opportunity to get some rest."
Oakland's relief arms are not only racking up innings in games, but on the bullpen mound, as well. Recent changes in Official Baseball Rule 3.05 prohibit a manager from sending his current pitcher out to warm up with no intention of having him pitch simply because another pitcher is not ready to enter the game. The league believes this is one of many ways to speed up games, though it means relievers are constantly warming up.
"That's something you don't always see," Melvin said. "A lot of times what doesn't show up is a guy might be warming up. We monitor that a lot."
As for his rotation, the A's plan to stick with just four starters through this stretch, since they won't need a fifth one until July 5 in Kansas City. For this reason, they optioned righty Dan Straily to Triple-A Sacramento after Sunday's game.
With off-days on horizon, A's option Straily
SEATTLE -- With three scheduled off-days over the next eight days, the A's have roster flexibility with their pitching staff.
They're going to take advantage of not needing a fifth starter until July 5 by bringing up an extra reliever or a position player on Tuesday in place of right-hander Dan Straily, who was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento after Sunday's game.
The demotion is thought to be temporary and he "definitely has a good shot" at regaining his rotation spot once another starter is needed, but manager Bob Melvin noted, "Nothing is promised to you in this game. He knows that. I talked to him about that."
"Obviously, it's not the desired spot you want to be in, not something that you want," Straily said. "But there are no guarantees in this game, so I'll go down there and compete and make sure I'm the first one on the list to come back up."
Straily, 4-2 with a 5.00 ERA in 12 starts this year, has a career-high three-game winning streak over his last seven starts, but has tossed fewer than five innings in each of his last two -- including Saturday, when he gave up two runs on six hits and three walks to the Mariners in just 3 1/3 innings.
"All these days off, they told me it was either keep me as a long guy in the bullpen," he said, "or send me down and keep me pitching."
"He's going to go down there and pitch like he would any other game," Melvin said, "and things will take care of itself."
If the A's have any qualms about bringing Straily back in July, top pitching prospect Sonny Gray could be considered. The righty is 7-4 with a 2.85 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 88 1/3 innings over 14 starts with the River Cats.
• Catcher John Jaso (left palm abrasion) was held out of the lineup for a third straight day Sunday. He was deemed available off the bench if absolutely needed, but the A's are likely to rest him through Monday's off-day.
• Jed Lowrie enjoyed his 11th game with three or more hits on Saturday, which is tied for the AL lead alongside Baltimore's Manny Machado and Minnesota's Joe Mauer.