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 initially. But there are still at least four men battling for the final spot in the bullpen, or "spot and a half," as manager Bob Melvin said Thursday before Oakland's 7-3 win over the Giants 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'll 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 among 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 non-roster invitee Mike Ekstrom. Asked if the team needs a long man, particularly early on when starters might not be quite in midseason form, Melvin noted that Scribner, Ekstrom and Norberto all can pitch in long relief.
Melvin mulls final spots in A's bullpen
San Francisco Chronicle | Mar 29