Oakland still has some housekeeping to do the next two days, including nailing down the middle infield spots – but the bigger competition at this point is in the bullpen. Injuries to Adam Rosales and Hiro Nakajima resulted in more clarity at shortstop (almost assuredly Jed Lowrie on Opening Night) and second base, where Eric Sogard and Scott Sizemore are likely to platoon, at least initially. But there are still at least four men in a heated battle for the final spot or two in the bullpen, or “spot and a half,” as manager Bob Melvin said when asked how many relief jobs are still up for grabs. Should the A’s want to maintain maximum roster flexibility – and they usually do – they’d keep all their relievers who are out of options, which means that Chris Resop, Pat Neshek and Travis Blackley all would be in the bullpen, with Jordan Norberto – a valuable member of the bullpen last year – opening the season at Triple-A. If Norberto makes the roster, along with the established relievers – closer Grant Balfour, set-up men Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle, and lefty Jerry Blevins – then the A’s must decide between Resop, acquired in a trade last fall, long man Blackley and Neshek for the final two spots, with right-hander Evan Scribner and lefty Pedro Figueroa then heading to Triple-A Sacramento along with right-handed non-roster invitee Mike Ekstrom. Asked Thursday if the team needs a long man, particularly in the early part of the season when starters might not yet be quite in midseason form, Melvin noted that Scribner, Ekstrom and Norberto all can pitch in long relief.
Last big decision looming for A’s: final bullpen spot
San Francisco Chronicle | Mar 28