The A's sent Godfrey down to Triple-A Sacramento and called up Figueroa from the River Cats.
Godfrey is 0-3 with a 5.06 ERA in three starts and has walked seven batters in 16 innings, including five in his previous start on Friday night against Cleveland.
Despite his control problems, Godfrey said he was surprised by his demotion.
"Yeah, yeah, I definitely was," Godfrey said while packing his gear in the A's clubhouse. "Even with the walks, I don't think I gave up a hit until the fourth inning [on Friday]. The stuff was there, and I think every outing there's been quite a few positives. It hasn't been anything that's been devastating, it's just a couple plays here and there, some bad luck, some timely hitting. It's just how it is. I look forward to helping the team out when the time comes."
A's manager Bob Melvin said the moves were made, in part, because of Godfrey's "command" problems, but also because the bullpen has logged heavy innings recently and needs an extra arm. Jordan Norberto, Melvin said, was unavailable for Saturday's game against Cleveland -- and he wanted to avoid using Brian Fuentes and Jerry Blevins, if possible.
Figueroa, who had Tommy John surgery in June 2010, has allowed no runs and just two hits in seven innings of work with eight strikeouts and four walks at Sacramento. He didn't allow a run in seven Spring Training appearances.
"He's a guy that was a tough cut in Spring Training, based on the success he had," Melvin said before Saturday night's game against Cleveland. "He's all the way back from surgery, [and had] plus-velocity from reports we were getting. I talked to [River Cats manager] Darren Bush [on Saturday]. He's throwing between 95 and 97 mph, making it difficult on left-handers and has the stuff for right-handers, as well. We do need some bullpen depth today, but also, his performance has warranted him a shot here at the big league level."
Figueroa, through an interpreter, said he learned he was called up as the River Cats were boarding a bus for Reno. At first, they told him he was being sent down to Arizona.
"Then, they embraced me and said, 'You're going up to the Majors,'" Figueroa said. "I felt very happy. The first thing I did was hug the manager."
Figueroa, 26, has spent parts of nine seasons in the Minor Leagues. He made his Major League debut on Saturday night, throwing a scoreless ninth inning against Cleveland.
"He's got plus stuff, we know that," Melvin said of Figueroa after the game. "He was a starter in the past. We feel like he has a bright future here, at least in the near term, as a reliever. You see the 96 [mph], you see the 88-89 on the slider that dives quickly. We saw that all spring. That's the reason he's here right now. We're really encouraged about where he potentially may go."
Melvin said he'll have to call up a starting pitcher from Sacramento for Wednesday's game against the White Sox.
"We have one targeted," Melvin said. "We'll see how things go between here and there. I don't want to commit myself. You never know what's going to happen in the next four or five days."
One likely choice is right-hander Jarrod Parker, who came to the A's from Arizona in the Trevor Cahill deal.
Melvin said he expects to see Godfrey back with the A's sometime this season.
"He is versatile. He can start, he can give you long relief, he can match up," Melvin said. "He's probably one of the more versatile guys we have. I would be surprised if we don't see him at some point."
Godfrey, who took his demotion calmly, said he'll use his time at Sacramento to work on his command.
"What's done is done," Godfrey said. "I'm looking forward, and I think that's kind of how you have to handle these things. You can't sit and dwell on it. Obviously, you wish you could have done something more, something extra. But looking ahead, looking in the future, looking down the road, I'm pretty positive about it.
"I think, obviously, there's some things that need to be ironed out. That's what I'm going to use this opportunity for. Get everything ironed out, fix everything, so when they do need somebody, I'm at a level where I can help the team."