O'Flaherty, Elmore on the mend
OAKLAND -- The A's bullpen has been filthy so far this season. Through 19 games, Oakland's relief corps has posted an MLB-best numbers in opposing batting average (.190), on-base percentage (.264) and slugging (.270).
Scary for other teams to think that the A's could be adding one of the game's premier southpaw setup men in the not-too-distant future. Eric O'Flaherty, who posted a 1.99 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 7.2 K/9 rate across 295 appearances for the Braves from 2009-13, is currently on the 60-day disabled list after undergoing Tommy John surgery last May 21.
O'Flaherty stretched out to 60 feet, 6 inches for the first time during his rehab Tuesday, throwing all of his pitches, including his go-to slider. Safe to say, manager Bob Melvin was impressed after witnessing the 35-pitch session.
"As a matter of fact, I asked him if he had an inning in him today," Melvin said.
Oakland signed O'Flaherty this offseason to a two-year, $7 million deal that could potentially be worth $10.5 million if he achieves all the incentives, in hopes that he'd bolster the 'pen by midseason. With the way he's progressing, an early June return might not be out of the question.
"This is the start of when you start looking down the road and mapping some things out, whether it's rehab schedule or not," Melvin said. "It was pretty impressive."
Infielder Jake Elmore, who was acquired via trade from the White Sox on Feb. 27, is also on the mend as he tries to return from a strained left quadriceps that landed him on the 15-day disabled list in late March.
"This is my first stint on the DL in my career," Elmore said. "So it's real tough watching everybody else play baseball and you have to sit back."
Elmore said he's enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere in the Oakland organization, and that he'll be assigned to Triple-A Sacramento in the coming days as he tries to crack the 25-man roster. Elmore faces an uphill battle to carve out a niche for himself in Oakland, as the club carries four capable middle infielders in Jed Lowrie, Eric Sogard, Alberto Callaspo and Nick Punto.
"Position versatility is one of my strengths," Elmore said. "And getting on-base for the guys that hit the home runs. Just try to create runs for them and the whole team in general."
Other recovering A's on the disabled list include starter A.J. Griffin (shoulder), who is still a few weeks away from being fit to return to game action. Right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez (Tommy John recovery) has made six strong rehab appearances with Triple-A Sacramento, allowing just one earned run.