A's eagerly awaiting first peek at new-look 'pen

Versatile vet Petit among arms added to relief corps during offseason

February 12th, 2018

OAKLAND -- A group of new A's relievers will descend on Hohokam Stadium come Tuesday, collectively reflecting the months-long work put in by the club's front office this offseason. The following day, they'll take to the field for the first official workout for Oakland pitchers and catchers.

Position players are scheduled to report on Sunday, with the first full-squad workout set for Feb. 19 at the Lew Wolff Training Complex.

The A's will play 32 games ahead of their March 29 regular-season opener at the Coliseum against the Angels -- including 29 in the desert, with 17 of them to be played at Hohokam Stadium. Their first Cactus League matchup is on tap for Feb. 23, also against the Angels.

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Los Angeles is a familiar opponent for right-hander , who pitched to a 2.76 ERA in 91 1/3 innings for the Halos last season. The A's snatched him up in December with a two-year contract, less than a month after trading for right-hander in a deal that sent to Seattle.

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The A's didn't stop there, acquiring left-hander -- along with veteran slugger -- in a trade with the Royals at the end of January, capping a productive offseason that also included a deal for outfielder .

"The bullpen was probably the first focus," A's manager Bob Melvin said, "and to be able to bring in Pagan and Petit, it lengthens our 'pen, [gives us] guys that [we] can use for multiple innings, too."

All three of the A's relief acquisitions are capable of shouldering a substantial workload, which should help alleviate the stress occasionally put on guys like and in 2017. Petit, in particular, is a dependable innings-eater, and he's as versatile as they come.

"He's the Band-Aid. He's the fix-it guy," Melvin said. "The one thing that he's [been] able to do in the last couple of years is pitch later in games. There is not a more versatile pitcher in the game than him. And if you need him to go two, three, four innings -- if you need him to spot start and he hasn't pitched two or three innings in two months -- he's able to give you five or six [innings]. He's very durable."

The A's are seeking reliability as much as durability from their bullpen, coming off of a season in which they ranked 25th in the Majors with a 4.57 ERA. Right-hander is expected to resume his job as closer, with right-hander Chris Hatcher handling primary setup duties. With the influx of new arms this offseason, a handful of returnees will be competing for the final couple of spots -- including right-handers Hendriks, and .

"It's a good, deep group," A's general manager David Forst said. "There are a lot of options. I think we know, through history, that we're going to need more than seven or eight guys -- and hopefully we've built enough depth back there that the bullpen will really be a strength of this team throughout 2018."