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Blackburn set to make big league debut

Right-hander to fill in for Cotton, who is dealing with blister
MLB.com

OAKLAND -- The A's are calling up right-hander and local product Paul Blackburn to start Saturday's game, manager Bob Melvin said.

He will start in place of right-hander Jharel Cotton, who is battling a blister issue. He was originally slotted to start Thursday in Houston. The A's aren't placing Cotton on the disabled list and hadn't announced a corresponding move for Blackburn as of Friday afternoon.

Full Game Coverage

OAKLAND -- The A's are calling up right-hander and local product Paul Blackburn to start Saturday's game, manager Bob Melvin said.

He will start in place of right-hander Jharel Cotton, who is battling a blister issue. He was originally slotted to start Thursday in Houston. The A's aren't placing Cotton on the disabled list and hadn't announced a corresponding move for Blackburn as of Friday afternoon.

Full Game Coverage

"We'll just try to push [Cotton] back potentially a couple more days, which means we feel like he's making progress," Melvin said. "He can go out there and throw a full complement. As of tomorrow, we weren't sure if he'd be able to throw 100 pitches or so. Hopefully a couple more days, we'll feel more confident about that."

Blackburn, who is Oakland's No. 22 prospect, per MLBPipeline.com, has a 3.05 ERA in 79 2/3 innings with Triple-A Nashville this season. The 23-year-old has a 5-6 record in 14 starts and one relief appearance. He found out he was being called up Thursday afternoon.

"It's exciting. I haven't really been able to take everything in," Blackburn said. "Right now, it still feels like a dream. It's awesome and I'm excited for it."

Blackburn was born in Antioch, about 40 miles to the northeast of the Coliseum, in the East Bay. He went to Heritage High School in Brentwood and was selected by the Cubs as the 56th overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft.

Blackburn was traded twice in 2016, first from the Cubs to the Mariners in July, then from Seattle to the A's in November, for Danny Valencia. Melvin commented, "When you trade a player like Danny Valencia for him, you expect him to pitch for you at some time in the big leagues."

That will begin Saturday for Blackburn, who will be making his big league debut in front of a lot of familiar faces.

"There's going to be a decent amount of people here, definitely. Parents, grandparents, uncles and lots of friends will be here," Blackburn said. "Everyone's excited. I'm excited to be here. I'm just looking forward to the game and having fun with it."

Alex Simon is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @alexsimon99.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Oakland Athletics, Paul Blackburn