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A's set to go with bullpen day on Saturday

September 14, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG -- Oakland plans on giving Tampa Bay a taste of its own medicine. The Rays, who have found success utilizing the concept of "bullpen days," will be facing an "opener" for the first time this season when the Athletics use that strategy in the middle game of their

ST. PETERSBURG -- Oakland plans on giving Tampa Bay a taste of its own medicine. The Rays, who have found success utilizing the concept of "bullpen days," will be facing an "opener" for the first time this season when the Athletics use that strategy in the middle game of their three-game series that starts Friday.
Oakland has been using the "bullpen day" model that the Rays have pioneered this year to help compensate for the injury woes it has been facing recently, including a season-ending injury to Sean Manaea, who will undergo surgery on his left rotator cuff next week. Oakland manager Bob Melvin said that the Rays' success could spawn more teams to copy the idea.
"I think everybody looked to these guys and how they were doing things, and they've done a nice job of it," Melvin said. "Any time you have success in doing something, teams are going to look into it. If it makes sense to them, they are going to do it."
Melvin said that the concept was more of a curiosity for him when the Rays first implemented it, but as his team has had to scramble to keep its rotation intact -- and incorporate the expansion of rosters -- the concept made more sense for Oakland as it tries to overtake the Yankees for the home-field advantage in the Wild Card game. Oakland came into Friday's game trailing New York by 1 1/2 games with 15 games left to play.
Melvin said he would use righty Liam Hendriks, who pitched a scoreless inning against the Orioles on Wednesday, in that opener role on Saturday.
"For us, right now, Hendriks seems to be the right guy," Melvin said.
After hearing the frustrations from opposing players about having to face specialized relievers to start the game, the Rays players will now have to adapt to the concept themselves.
"It seems like other teams kind of have trouble preparing for it," Rays third baseman Matt Duffy said. "But I think on an individual level if each hitter just worries about that one at-bat, it shouldn't be too much different. Unless you make it out to be this big thing in your mind. Then it can get to you."
A's being cautious with Cahill
Trevor Cahill will miss at least his next turn in the rotation due to soreness in his upper back but will likely avoid a trip to the disabled list, according to Melvin.
"It's muscular in nature in that rhomboid area," Melvin said. "He had a trigger-point injection, so hopefully that alleviates it."
Melvin said that Cahill, who is 6-3 with a 3.77 ERA in 19 starts this season, will hold off on his throwing program for "the next few days" before being re-evaluated during the team's off-day on Monday.

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.