MESA, Ariz. -- Jerry Blevins' return to the A's comes six years after the lefty reliever's first tour in Oakland ended."I know pretty much everyone here apart from most of the players," Blevins said with a smile.:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::Only one of them was in
MESA, Ariz. -- Jerry Blevins' return to the A's comes six years after the lefty reliever's first tour in Oakland ended.
"I know pretty much everyone here apart from most of the players," Blevins said with a smile.
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Only one of them was in the organization when Blevins last appeared in green and gold -- catcher Beau Taylor, a 2011 A's Draft pick. Oakland has even settled into a new Spring Training home, moving from Phoenix to Mesa, in the time Blevins was gone.
The left-hander, now 35, has been busy roaming the National League East, spending a season with the Nationals -- where he first called A's closer Blake Treinen a teammate -- and four with the Mets. Blevins struggled in 2018, posting a 4.85 ERA, but he averaged a 2.87 ERA over 91 innings between 2016-17.
Now, Blevins is readying to become a dependable piece out of A's manager Bob Melvin's bullpen for the second time in his career -- "I want to get back to knowing what you get when you put me on the mound," he said -- after rejoining Oakland on a Minor League deal.
"I just wanted to find a team that was going to compete and win a World Series, and something that fit for me, somebody that's going to need my services as a lefty reliever," Blevins said. "This seemed to be kind of the perfect fit.
"The team has always had fun energy, and with [Melvin] at the helm, everybody is going to be fine if he's steering the ship."
When Melvin was called upon to lead the A's in the middle of the 2011 season, Blevins was still fighting for a full-time job in the big leagues. Six times that year, he went back and forth between Oakland and Triple-A.
Within a year, however, Blevins had solidified himself as an integral piece to Oakland's relief corps. The opportunity is there for him to do the same in 2019, with just one other lefty (Ryan Buchter) pegged for a spot in Oakland's bullpen.
"I've always had a soft spot for Blev," Melvin said. "He was a guy I had to send up and down there for a while, which was really difficult to do, and he's really made a nice career for himself. He has a really good understanding of what he needs to do and is impactful in the clubhouse, because he's a smart guy and gets it. It's nice to have as many of those guys in your clubhouse as you can have."
Blevins kept tabs on the A's while he was away, likening the curiosity to "your first love kind of thing," and he especially kept close watch on Treinen, who in 2018 became the first pitcher in Major League history to save 30 games, compile an ERA under 1.00 and strike out 100 batters.
"I think we've been waiting for him to break out, because his stuff has been there," Blevins said. "It's nice to see the translation into performance on the field, because not only is he one of the nicest guys in the planet, he's the nastiest pitcher you'll ever see. His stuff is off the charts. So it's good to see it all come together."
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.