3/29/2014 12:22 A.M. ET
Melvin, Lowrie support stricter drug penalties
By Alex Espinoza / Special to MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Hours before the A's and Giants took the field Friday for the second game of the exhibition Bay Bridge Series, MLB and the MLB Players Association announced sweeping reforms to the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Stricter testing and harsher penalties marked the new agreement between the league and MLBPA. Most notably, a first offense will now cost a PED user 80 games, a second offense will cost a full season, and a third strike will result in a lifetime ban from baseball.
"I think they need to be stricter, and I think they're doing the right thing," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Now, the union and MLB got together and came up with this, and I'm all for it."
Another major change calls for 3,200 random drug tests throughout the season, more than double the 1,400 that were administered in years past. A's veteran Jed Lowrie said he's in favor of a more proactive approach by the league, adding that a lifetime ban on the first offense probably wouldn't be necessary.
"The death penalty doesn't stop murder," Lowrie said. "If you have a greater chance of being caught doing it, I think that's more of a preventative measure."
Pomeranz potential option for long-relief role
SAN FRANCISCO -- Among all the moves that Oakland general manager Billy Beane made this offseason, perhaps the acquisition of Drew Pomeranz fell under the radar. But don't count out the talented lefty, who possesses a mid-90s fastball and has shown a better grasp of his offspeed stuff with the A's during Spring Training.
The A's received the 25-year-old Pomeranz from the Rockies for oft-injured but talented southpaw Brett Anderson in December. Now, Pomeranz is poised to make Oakland's bullpen.
"Based on what he's done this spring, he's given himself a great chance to make this team," manager Bob Melvin said, adding that no roster cuts will be made until the weekend.
With Jesse Chavez moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation, Melvin added that Pomeranz would likely be stretched out into the long-man role if he makes Oakland's roster, while he would likely be a starter if he ends up in Triple-A.
Since being drafted fifth overall in 2010 by the Indians, high expectations have followed Pomeranz, but he's never been able to translate them into MLB success. In 34 big league appearances, including 30 starts, Pomeranz has a 4-14 record, 5.20 ERA and 1.54 WHIP with a K/9 ratio of 7.6 and BB/9 ratio of 4.6.
Though he's always had the ability to strike batters out, Pomeranz's control during Spring Training is what has him and his manager excited most. In 12 2/3 innings of work this spring, Pomeranz has a 2.84 ERA and 1.26 WHIP while striking out 20 and walking just three.
"Probably more happy about the walks," Pomeranz said. "Normally my problem's been throwing strikes, staying ahead of guys and walking a lot of people. It's great to strike people out, but I'd much rather just not walk anybody."
Pomeranz said he's enjoyed the change of scenery from Colorado to Oakland, citing his new organization's laid-back approach as a key to his success. No major changes to his delivery, but they "just kind of let you do your thing."
"I think I've pitched pretty well and I've gotten better every time out," Pomeranz said. "I think I've accomplished what I came in here wanting to do, which is throw strikes and be more consistent and get guys out."
Meanwhile, it seems like Fernando Abad could have a hold on one of the final two bullpen spots that seem up for grabs behind closer Jim Johnson, setup men Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson, and middle relievers Dan Otero and Evan Scribner.
"Definitely has put himself in a position to possibly make the team," Melvin said of Abad.
Cook, Gentry on track for second series of season
SAN FRANCISCO -- There are still a few A's players on the mend as the club gets ready for Monday's Opening Day matchup at home against the Indians.
Manager Bob Melvin has already declared that reliever Ryan Cook and outfielder Craig Gentry will start the season on the 15-day disabled list, and starter A.J. Griffin will continue to rest for about another week while he recovers from elbow soreness.
Melvin said the plan is for Cook to throw a session Saturday and barring any setbacks, he could return by next weekend.
"There's a chance we could see him the latter part of the Seattle series," Melvin said, referring to the four-game set from April 3-6. "We don't want to bring him back to early. But he certainly is an integral part to our bullpen, and we'd like to have him back as soon as we can."
As for Gentry, who is expected to claim Oakland's fourth outfielder spot when healthy, Melvin said he is still in Arizona keeping up with baseball activities while rehabbing a balky back.
"Everything's going well," Melvin said. "He's getting his at-bats every day, he's playing in the field, he's going back and forth between DH and playing in the field. Really, [he] may be on the same timetable, or close to it, as Cook."
Gentry and Cook will be eligible to return to duty on April 5.
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.