8/28/2014 10:35 P.M. ET
O'Flaherty is equipped to handle closer's role
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- "Lefty specialist" is one title Eric O'Flaherty never liked. He could get used to this closer label, though.
The southpaw's ability to have success against both righties and lefties is a big reason why the A's want him in the ninth inning while All-Star Sean Doolittle recovers from a right intercostal strain.
Right-handers are batting just .176 in 34 at-bats against O'Flaherty this year, while left-handers have managed a meager .227 in 22 at-bats.
O'Flaherty locked down his first career save in Houston on Wednesday and was prepared for a shot at his second, if it came to that, in Anaheim on Thursday. He's yet to pitch back-to-back games since returning from Tommy John surgery in early July but says, "I've been ready to go."
"It depends on how he feels, but part of that decision to put him in the closer's role is the fact we can use him back-to-back days now, where we hadn't," said manager Bob Melvin. "We'll see how he's feeling and then proceed accordingly."
"I told them when I got here, that whatever role they wanted to plug me into, I was just along for the ride and wanted to help out any way I could," said O'Flaherty. "When I got here, everyone pretty much had established roles, but this is an exciting opportunity. It's in every reliever's mind for sure. I've just been lucky to have always been in really good bullpens."
That's part of why he feels so prepared to close games.
"In Atlanta," he said, "I felt like every game we played was a one-run game, so there were plenty of intense and tight situations all the time, so it wasn't any different last night, just came an inning later."
O'Flaherty's fastball routinely averaged 92-94 mph before he underwent Tommy John surgery. Now, it's coming in at an average just below 91 mph, reflecting a very common velocity dip for Tommy John patients, who typically gain it back the following year.
But that's not even his main weapon, anyway. That would be his sinker. He also boasts a changeup and slider.
"My strength has always been more movement, deception, anyway," he said. "I've never been that flamethrower, so I've felt comfortable all season being able to manipulate the ball the way I want to and get guys out."
A's flip-flop Kazmir and Samardzija
ANAHEIM -- The A's will start Jeff Samardzija on Saturday and Scott Kazmir on Sunday to close out their four-game set in Anaheim, rather than the other way around as originally planned.
The switch allows the A's to break up their lefties -- Friday starter Jon Lester and Kazmir -- while also giving Kazmir extra rest. Kazmir, who will pitch on six days' rest, has already pitched 158 innings, equaling his total from last year.
He hasn't thrown more than that since compiling 206 2/3 innings with the Rays in 2007.
"Just giving Kaz a little bit more time, and then splitting the lefties up," said manager Bob Melvin. "We've been looking for a way to do that for a little while, so it's two-fold."
Melvin did not suggest Kazmir is tired but pointed to the luxury of being afforded the chance to lend him extra time off as his innings climb.
"Just when you think he maybe looks a little tired, then he goes out and pitches a great game," he said. "He's been really consistent for us, but it's been a while since he's pitched the innings that he's pitched this year. Shark feels really good right now, so it just gave us an opportunity to give Kaz an extra day or two."
Kazmir has had a tough time in two starts against his former Angels team since Los Angeles released him in 2011, lasting just three innings on both occasions. He most recently allowed the Halos seven runs on 10 hits in Sunday's loss.
A's recall Scribner to reinforce bullpen
ANAHEIM -- The A's shored up their bullpen in time for Thursday's series opener at Angel Stadium by recalling right-hander Evan Scribner from Triple-A Sacramento.
The club was down a relief arm on Wednesday because of its decision to utilize a sixth starter in Drew Pomeranz, who will now join first baseman Nate Freiman at Class A Beloit.
Both will return to the A's when rosters expand Monday.
For Scribner, this is his fourth stint with the A's this year -- ninth over the last two seasons -- and he is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in six relief appearances over that span. He's also 4-1 with a 3.06 ERA and 16 saves in 40 relief outings for the River Cats.
"He's pitched in any number of roles for us," said manager Bob Melvin. He's been here with us, he knows the up-and-down thing, we can use him for length and he has done a nice job for us."
At least for Thursday, Scribner was to fill Dan Otero's role, after the righty tossed 38 pitches in earning his eighth win of the season in Houston on Wednesday.
• Josh Reddick has joined the Taylor Hooten Foundation advisory board, which currently includes 15 Major League players who have teamed up to educate young athletes about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs.
• Jed Lowrie (fractured right index finger) took live batting practice on Thursday for the first time since hitting the disabled list. How his finger responds will dictate his readiness for a rehab assignment this weekend.
• Nick Punto, sidelined most of August by a right hamstring strain, is not as close to going out on a rehab stint, as he's still struggling to run at 100 percent.
• John Jaso, placed on the seven-day concussion DL on Monday, has yet to resume baseball activity.