4/4/2014 11:36 P.M. ET
New lefties in bullpen make quick impression
By Alex Espinoza / Special to MLB.com
OAKLAND -- There has been a lot of talk about the A's bullpen since general manager Billy Beane reshaped the group with a host of moves this past offseason.
Though new closer Jim Johnson's struggles have dominated the headlines to start the year, lefties Fernando Abad and Drew Pomeranz have gone about their business and tossed zeros up on the board for Oakland.
In Thursday night's 3-2 12-inning win over the Mariners, Abad tossed two scoreless innings to follow starter Jesse Chavez, before Pomeranz pitched a perfect 12th inning to earn the victory after Coco Crisp delivered a walk-off solo shot. It's a small sample size, but Abad (2 2/3 innings) and Pomeranz (2 innings) have yet to allow as much as a hit this season.
Manager Bob Melvin said he's been impressed with the new southpaws in his bullpen to start the year.
"Very much so," Melvin said. "We saw it real early with Abad. He's been consistent all the way through spring and here in the season. The velocity's always been around 95. He's got a power breaking ball. ... And Pomeranz has been, as far as command goes, better than we expected, too, in Spring Training. And he's been an integral part to it here, too. For a guy that hasn't pitched out of the bullpen a whole lot, he seems to have acclimated pretty well."
By getting six outs Thursday, Abad showed he can be more than a one- or two-batter situational lefty, something Melvin noted with reporters. The 28-year-old posted a 3.35 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in a career-high 39 appearances for the Nationals last year, before the A's acquired him for Minor League outfielder John Wooten in a low-key offseason trade.
After beginning his career as a starter, Abad has been exclusively a bullpen pitcher since the start of 2013, saying it's helped him become more comfortable.
"Whatever the situation is they need me, I'll be ready for that," Abad said.
Pomeranz, 25, was acquired from the Rockies in the Brett Anderson trade and is trying to capture the potential that made him the No. 5 overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Abad and Pomeranz join right-hander Evan Scribner as candidates to be moved from the 25-man roster with the pending return of Ryan Cook (shoulder), who could be activated from the 15-day disabled list as soon as Saturday.
Fuld making future roster decision difficult
OAKLAND -- The clock might be ticking on Sam Fuld's stay in Oakland, but the reserve outfielder is giving the A's coaching staff plenty to think about.
On Friday, manager Bob Melvin said that outfielder Craig Gentry (back) could join the big league club early next week when the team is in Minnesota. Entering the season, it seemed that Fuld would be the odd man out once Gentry is fit to play, since both players are speedy, slick defenders who bring energy to the lineup.
But Fuld has gone 3-for-9 with a pair of triples in two contests, catching the eye of Melvin in the process.
"I knew he was a good player," Melvin said. "But he's probably an even better player than I thought. He does a lot of things that don't show up in the box score."
Asked if the team would consider keeping Fuld and Gentry to back up the starting trio of Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick, Melvin said, "We'll deal with that."
On Thursday night, Fuld tried to leg out an inside-the-park home run after Seattle center fielder Abraham Almonte misplayed a low line drive in the fifth inning, allowing it to roll to the wall. For the first 270 feet, Fuld was going strong. Then he rounded third, and his legs gave out.
"I didn't expect that refrigerator to jump on my back for that last 90 feet there," Fuld said. "I was spent for, really, the whole game afterwards. My legs were pretty dead."
After a solid relay by the Mariners, Fuld was out at the plate, but he still drove Nick Punto home and provided a spark to the A's, who went on to win, 3-2, in 12 innings. Considering the four triples Fuld posted during Spring Training, he's made a habit of three-base hits to start his A's career.
"Definitely getting my exercise in," Fuld said. "Just one of those weird things."
At the age of 32, Fuld is proving that he can still produce at the big league level. But will he stay in Oakland? The first decision comes next week when Gentry makes his expected return, and Fuld can opt out of his contract on June 1 if he's not on a big league roster.
"In my situation, you just make the most of your opportunities," Fuld said. "You never know how many more you're going to get. Obviously, you just try to control what you can control, and that's how you play."
Cook, Gentry close to returning from DL
OAKLAND -- A's manager Bob Melvin provided updates Friday for reliever Ryan Cook (shoulder) and outfielder Craig Gentry (back), who both appear close to returning from Minor League stints while on the 15-day disabled list.
Melvin said Cook threw 16 pitches for Class A Advanced Stockton on Thursday and didn't report any setbacks, topping out at 94 mph The valuable right-handed setup man is eligible to be activated Saturday, but Melvin said Cook could use another Minor League tuneup.
"I would say tomorrow [Saturday] would be a stretch," Melvin said. "But we'll see. I don't want to rule anything out. We mapped out a log of innings that we want him to get to. Maybe one more [game]."
As for Gentry, he recently returned from a three-day paternity leave as his wife gave birth this week to their first child, a girl. A reserve outfielder when healthy, Gentry was sidelined for all of Oakland's Spring Training game action by a balky lower back.
"Probably a couple more outings for him," Melvin said, adding that Gentry could rejoin the A's while they are in Minnesota from Monday to Wednesday.
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.