Now, Geren has to decide how to use the former closer. It's a good problem to have. The bullpen had blown saves in two of the last three games entering Friday, but on the whole, the A's relief corps has been as good as any in the American League. They lead the AL with a 2.78 ERA -- third lowest in the Majors -- and a .209 opponents' batting average.
Depth has been the key.
Santiago Casilla, who has not allowed a run in a 17 1/3 innings, notched a save Tuesday with closer Huston Street unavailable. Alan Embree hasn't allowed a run in 11 appearances. Joey Devine hasn't allowed a run in 10 of 11 appearances. Andrew Brown blew his first save Wednesday and has been roughed up in his last three appearances, but that came after a strong start to the season.
Now, add Foulke, who had a save and a 2.57 ERA before going on the DL on April 19 with neck stiffness. Foulke, who posted a 4.50 ERA in two Minor League rehab appearances, takes the roster spot of Dallas Braden, who was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento on Thursday after getting the win in Wednesday's 6-5 victory over Baltimore.
"Any of these guys can be used in any inning," Geren said.
Geren said before Friday's game that he doesn't want Foulke cornered into one role coming off the DL. Casilla and Embree appear to be the main setup men at this moment for Street, so Geren will work Foulke into the seventh and eighth innings.
One bullpen certainty is that right-hander Chad Gaudin will slide into a long-relief role after losing his rotation spot with the return Sunday of ace Rich Harden.
"He's obviously the most stretched out," Geren said.
One interesting note about Foulke's return: Geren saw one of his two rehab appearances for Triple-A Sacramento, only not in person. Geren was able to watch Foulke pitch on the internet on MILB.com, so he had something else to go on aside from game reports from his Triple-A coaches.
"One of those games right before ours, it was perfect timing," Geren said.
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less