If you've spent the past few weeks pursuing saves from Oakland relievers, we don't need to tell you that it's been a bit of a struggle. The A's have only recorded two saves this month, and neither was earned by the team's presumptive closer, Brad Ziegler(notes). He's been flu-stricken.
On Friday, in comments reported by the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, Oakland manager Bob Geren offered no clarity whatsoever:
I asked manager Bob Geren if Brad Ziegler is still the closer and he said he feels as if the bullpen situation is "back to kind of before Joey Devine's(notes) injury," meaning that Ziegler is not the only closer.
Geren has been talking for more than a week about using rookie Andrew Bailey(notes) to close, and he said Friday, "I've never really named a closer, I still haven't, nor will I. ... Obviously, I really like the job Bailey is doing."
If Geren won't officially designate a closer, then neither will we (see the spreadsheet below for details). Bailey and Michael Wuertz(notes) have picked up the A's two May saves. Meanwhile, Ziegler finally worked a couple of scoreless frames on Sunday, and he faced the heart of Detroit's lineup. He's not out of the closing mix; he's merely recovering. Ziegler has really been dropped like a burning coal in Yahoo! leagues (3449 times yesterday), but he hasn't yet been bounced by his manager.
• Chris Sampson(notes) picked up a messy save for the Astros on Sunday (1.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 K), but he only got the ninth because interim closer LaTroy Hawkins(notes) is dinged. This from the Houston Chronicle:
Hawkins was unavailable Sunday after hurting his right hip Saturday. He slipped trying to catch Hunter Pence’s(notes) throw home as the Cubs’ Bobby Scales(notes) scored the winning run on Alfonso Soriano’s(notes) ninth-inning single.
“I’m sore everywhere,” said Hawkins, who was limping. “I feel like I was in a car accident. Just slipped backing up home plate. I got jarred.”
The Astros are already managing around injuries to Jose Valverde(notes) (calf), Doug Brocail(notes) (hamstring) and Geoff Geary(notes) (biceps), so Hawkins is not allowed to be seriously hurt. It now sounds like Valverde will be out until early June, thus preserving his buy-low status.
"I talked to Brandon today and told him what we're going to do is put him in the bullpen -- not in the closer role, but get him some innings,'' Wakamatsu said. "Get him to where he feels he can command the baseball a little bit better. Obviously, the last couple of weeks have been awfully hard on this bullpen. ... We're going to end up seeing, on each individual game, who's best available to close the game out. Obviously, Aardsma will be in there when we have an opportunity, but we'll look at other guys to step up also.''
There is no timeframe. Wakamatsu and Morrow talked at length about a variety of things and the scenario that would see him work the ninth inning again.
Yahoo! owners dropped Morrow 7122 times yesterday, but that seems premature. When he's right, he's the best arm in that bullpen. He also qualifies at SP, which is no small detail in fantasy leagues. Mark Lowe(notes) might get the occasional save opportunity while Morrow corrects himself, according to MLB.com's speculation.
• Joakim Soria(notes) is eligible to come off the 15-day DL on Friday, and he's told the Kansas City Star that his shoulder has improved:
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “It’s feeling better. I just need to get it stronger in there. That’s what I’m working to do.”
Still, it would still be a surprise if he returned quickly. Trey Hillman had this to say:
“As soon as Joakim can do his normal arm-exercise program with no discomfort and no soreness, then they’ll get a date scheduled to start throwing a baseball again. As of right now, he’s doing his exercise program with no weight.”
So as soon as Soria is able to do exercises that he currently cannot, they'll talk about a date when he can try throwing.
With left-handers batting .476 against Percival, Rays manager Joe Maddon kept Percival away from lefties, having him pitch the seventh inning in Friday’s win and using Joe Nelson(notes) as the closer in Saturday’s win.
“(In) 15 years lefties have hit .190 off me. I hit a streak where I get so change-up happy and away fastball happy, they got to figure I’m going to figure that out and I did,” Percival said.
Percival watched video of how he pitched in Baltimore and realized he was using his change-up far more than he normally does and that he was pitching away from lefties. Percival is at his best when he’s mixing in his fastball, cutter and curveball and pitching inside.
If we don't count the retaliatory plunking of Mark DeRosa(notes) to lead-off the ninth yesterday, Percival worked a spotless frame. The main reason I've listed Nelson in the Threats column below is that "Isringhausen" is just such a long name ...
Photos via AP Images