6/21/2014 2:46 A.M. ET
After early hiccups, bullpen rounding into form
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- After drawing too much attention for all the wrong reasons in the early going of the season, the A's relievers are making headlines for the right ones.
Sean Doolittle has quickly transformed into a lights-out closer with a silly strikeout-to-walk ratio. Luke Gregerson has been untouchable in the eighth inning. Dan Otero has become the go-to guy in the seventh, with a knack for filling any other role when asked, too -- like closing, as he did Thursday with Doolittle unavailable.
The A's bullpen, it seems, is finally rounding into form after one too many hiccups -- just not in a way they ever envisioned.
Jim Johnson was supposed to close games. Now he doesn't so much as have a defined role. Then there's Ryan Cook, who has battled with consistency when not battling injuries.
"He's a guy we'd like to be able to add into that mix again," said manager Bob Melvin. "Jim Johnson, too. Cookie just hasn't been as consistent. Right now, he's just having a little trouble throwing strikes consistently, but another guy we expect to have in that mix. We thought all along we'd be able to mix and match some and give guys some rest, but to this point, we're basically using the same guys.
"In a perfect world, it's 7-8-9, with Otero seven, Gregerson eight and Doolittle nine, with [Fernando] Abad mixed in there for the lefties. Now, we've been in a lot of games here where we're not going to have everyone available, but in a perfect world where everyone's rested, that's what we're looking at."
Doolittle, flashing an absurd 48:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, has not allowed a run over his last 20 outings, Gregerson his last 12. Eighteen of Otero's last 21 outings have been scoreless, and the righty has already racked up 44 innings -- second most among Major League relievers.
"He's been unbelievable," said Melvin. "The most versatile guy we have down there. He's economical in his pitches, he's durable, and whoever is not available on a particular day, he can fill that role."
Melvin: Reddick 'feels great' during rehab stint
OAKLAND -- The A's plan all along was to bring back Josh Reddick when he felt good at the plate.
After two rehab games with Triple-A Sacramento, Oakland's rehabbing outfielder "said he feels great," said manager Bob Melvin, who spoke to Reddick by phone Friday.
On the mend from a hyperextended right knee, Reddick was 1-for-3 in each of his starts, and he's expected to play in at least two more games with the River Cats while the A's calculate a corresponding move upon his return.
That time is likely to come Tuesday in New York, where the A's begin a two-game set with the Mets for the start of an eight-game, 10-day road trip.
It was Stephen Vogt who was promoted when Reddick was placed on the disabled list, but he's been swinging the bat too well -- he's hitting .341 through 14 games -- to go back down.
Kyle Blanks is also hitting above .300. Eric Sogard, meanwhile, is batting just .199, and he does have an option remaining, which could persuade the A's to send him to Triple-A and give Alberto Callaspo more starts at second base.
Norris day to day with bruised left forearm
OAKLAND -- A's catcher Derek Norris exited Friday's 4-3 win over the Red Sox after six innings with a bruised left forearm.
Ensuing X-rays proved negative on Norris, who took a foul tip to the arm and is considered day to day.
"It's no break," said Norris. "X-rays came back fine. There's nothing technically extremely wrong with it. I think it's just a pretty good contusion. We'll see how it feels tomorrow, how it bounces back."
Following Norris' departure, Stephen Vogt entered the game behind the plate, catching three scoreless innings from Oakland's bullpen.
• To make room on the 25-man roster for Friday starter Brad Mills, the A's optioned reliever Evan Scribner to Triple-A.
• The A's lost left-handed pitcher Justin Marks on a waiver claim by the Rangers on Friday.
Marks was acquired from the Royals on June 6 in exchange for cash and immediately optioned to Triple-A Sacramento, where he did not allow a run in four relief appearances spanning 3 2/3 innings with the River Cats.
• First-round Draft pick Matt Chapman made his professional debut Friday night, playing third base and going 2-for-5 for the Arizona League A's.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.