OAKLAND -- A's manager Bob Melvin shuffled the team's rotation on Tuesday prior to the start of the A's nine-game homestand, paving the way for righty Rich Harden to make his first appearance of the season.
Melvin moved righty Guillermo Moscoso into the starting spot for Wednesday's game against the Marlins, relegating fellow rookie Graham Godfrey to bullpen duties. The shuffle means that righty Trevor Cahill's next start will be in Thursday's series finale, and it sets up Harden for his Oakland debut on Friday against Arizona.
Harden has been sidelined all season with a right lat muscle strain after signing a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the A's, but has made two rehab starts with Triple-A Sacramento in his quest to come back from the injury. During his time in Sacramento, he pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowing three runs with 12 strikeouts and three walks.
Harden was scheduled to make one last rehab start to get his pitch count up higher, but Melvin and the A's decided against it.
"We felt like at 90 [pitches], we can keep him," Melvin said. "That's a good number for us. We want him healthy, and he is healthy right now. The people that have the eyes on him feel like he was throwing well at this point. Rather than send him out one more time and get him to 110, we're comfortable with where he's been at this point."
Part of what played into the decision to forego a third rehab start for Harden is Godfrey's performance since being called up. The righty is 1-1 with a 4.24 ERA in three starts but has allowed just three earned runs in his last two appearances.
The shift means that Godfrey will add another long-relief option to an already stout bullpen, and Melvin said that the rookie could conceivably give the team up to 100 pitches in relief. Although he is used to being a starter, Godfrey isn't completely unfamiliar in a bullpen role, having spent about two weeks there last season in the Minors before returning to the rotation.
Despite being relegated to the bullpen, Godfrey is taking the move in stride.
"I feel fine," he said. "I'm still glad to be a part of the team. Even though it's a new role, I'm going to try to do the best that I can and try to contribute and help the team win."