MESA, Ariz. -- The A's have Sunday circled on the calendar for the much-anticipated arrival of reliever Santiago Casilla.
The veteran right-hander, who has been held up in the Dominican Republic because of visa paperwork, is expected to travel from his homeland on Saturday, and join his new club the following morning -- nearly three weeks after Oakland's other pitchers reported to camp.
Casilla's visa process was delayed, according to the A's, because of his late signing date -- his two-year, $11 million deal was finalized Jan. 20.
The 36-year-old, who has been following a throwing program at the team's Dominican Republic academy, has a decision to make when descending upon the desert. Casilla is committed to play in the World Baseball Classic this month, but it's plausible he opts out to make up for lost time with the A's.
Each of the club's other four expected participants have already dropped out of the Classic: Sonny Gray, who was forced out after being denied insurance coverage, and John Axford, Liam Hendriks and Khris Davis, who all bowed out for personal reasons.
A's manager Bob Melvin said the club remains supportive of Casilla no matter his choice, adding, "The timing has thrown a little bit of a wrench in it, but until he gets here and we talk about it, I think our stance remains the same."
Should Casilla forego the Classic -- the Dominican Republic is scheduled to begin play in Miami next week -- Melvin said he would ease the pitcher into action, ensuring he throws a couple of bullpen sessions and faces hitters in batting practice before getting into games.
"We still have plenty of time," Melvin said. "If he is going to the WBC, then we'll take a different route."
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.