New lefties in bullpen make quick impression
OAKLAND -- There has been a lot of talk about the A's bullpen since general manager Billy Beane reshaped the group with a host of moves this past offseason.
Though new closer Jim Johnson's struggles have dominated the headlines to start the year, lefties Fernando Abad and Drew Pomeranz have gone about their business and tossed zeros up on the board for Oakland.
In Thursday night's 3-2 12-inning win over the Mariners, Abad tossed two scoreless innings to follow starter Jesse Chavez, before Pomeranz pitched a perfect 12th inning to earn the victory after Coco Crisp delivered a walk-off solo shot. It's a small sample size, but Abad (2 2/3 innings) and Pomeranz (2 innings) have yet to allow as much as a hit this season.
Manager Bob Melvin said he's been impressed with the new southpaws in his bullpen to start the year.
"Very much so," Melvin said. "We saw it real early with Abad. He's been consistent all the way through spring and here in the season. The velocity's always been around 95. He's got a power breaking ball. ... And Pomeranz has been, as far as command goes, better than we expected, too, in Spring Training. And he's been an integral part to it here, too. For a guy that hasn't pitched out of the bullpen a whole lot, he seems to have acclimated pretty well."
By getting six outs Thursday, Abad showed he can be more than a one- or two-batter situational lefty, something Melvin noted with reporters. The 28-year-old posted a 3.35 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in a career-high 39 appearances for the Nationals last year, before the A's acquired him for Minor League outfielder John Wooten in a low-key offseason trade.
After beginning his career as a starter, Abad has been exclusively a bullpen pitcher since the start of 2013, saying it's helped him become more comfortable.
"Whatever the situation is they need me, I'll be ready for that," Abad said.
Pomeranz, 25, was acquired from the Rockies in the Brett Anderson trade and is trying to capture the potential that made him the No. 5 overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Abad and Pomeranz join right-hander Evan Scribner as candidates to be moved from the 25-man roster with the pending return of Ryan Cook (shoulder), who could be activated from the 15-day disabled list as soon as Saturday.