7/13/2013 9:44 P.M. ET
Heavy workload taking toll on A's bullpen
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- Only 12 American League relievers have made more appearances this season than A's lefties Jerry Blevins and Sean Doolittle, and even the margin between them and everyone else is extremely slim.
The Oakland relievers have pitched in 41 games, and right-hander Ryan Cook isn't too far behind with 40 coming into Saturday. Closer Grant Balfour is at 38.
Combined, that's 160 appearances between the four of them. Heading into the All-Star break last year, that number stood at 119. Granted, Doolittle didn't join the team until June of last year, but that's still a heavier workload.
Consider this the perfect time, then, for these relievers to rest.
"I definitely think our bullpen could use a break," manager Bob Melvin said. "We've leaned on those four guys more so than we did the first half of last year."
Blevins has endured his share of struggles as of late -- seven of his 14 earned runs have come in his last seven games -- and Doolittle, too, has been more prone to mistakes this season, allowing 14 earned runs over his last 18 outings.
With no other lefty sitting in the bullpen, both of them will continue to be called upon frequently following the break.
"When you're in close games and winning a lot of games," Melvin said, "it means those guys are in a lot of games, so the rest here is needed."
Melvin hasn't decided on rotation after All-Star break
OAKLAND -- Bartolo Colon has yet to decide whether he'll make himself available for the All-Star Game on Tuesday, and as a direct result, manager Bob Melvin has yet to decide how the A's rotation will look coming out of the break.
"I don't know yet," Melvin said Saturday. "Once we get through the break, then we'll map it out. Part of it has to do with [Colon]."
If Colon does not declare himself ineligible, the 40-year-old would be allowed to pitch one inning on Tuesday. The likelihood of that actually happening, however, seems slim, given American League manager Jim Leyland's public comments on his stance regarding the use of starters pitching Sunday.
In short, he is very much against it.
"They can blast me 'til the cows come home, and I'm not doing it," Leyland told reporters last week. "If anybody doesn't see the common sense in that, then they have a problem.
"I would hope that anybody that has a heartbeat would be smart enough to know that you don't pitch a starting pitcher that pitched on Sunday in a friggin' All-Star Game on Tuesday, including the pitcher."
Colon is among three AL All-Star pitchers, alongside Detroit's Justin Verlander and Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma, scheduled to start Sunday. Colon, like the others, can still make himself available for the Midsummer Classic despite Leyland's strong thoughts.
But whether Colon chooses to do so likely won't be known until after Sunday's game.
"I guess that'll happen when it happens," Melvin said. "That's not something that I am handicapping at this point."
Should any of those three pitchers opt out of being available Tuesday, an opening on the AL roster would be created. A's closer Grant Balfour, carrying around a streak of 42 consecutive saves, is an obvious replacement choice, though there are no guarantees.
• Right fielder Josh Reddick entered Saturday having reached base via a hit or walk in an ongoing career-high 18 consecutive games. He's 15-for-62 (.242) with seven walks during the streak, which is the longest by an A's player over the last two years.
• The A's were held to a season low-tying three hits on Friday night for the eighth time this year and the second time in the last four games. They have been held to five hits or fewer in each of the last four games, which is the longest streak by an Oakland team since June 14-18, 2001, when they had a record-tying five-game streak.