Billings' versatility a big draw for A's

PHOENIX -- With less than a month until Opening Day remaining, the A's reassigned Bruce Billings to their Minor League camp Saturday, meaning he'll start the 2013 season at Triple-A Sacramento. But even without a 25-man roster spot with his name on it, Oakland still sees the right-hander as a valuable piece to their club moving forward because of his versatility and experience.

"He's depth for us. ... He's a guy who needs to stay ready over the course of the season because he can make an impact at any particular time," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He can pitch at the big league level -- he's just probably got a few guys ahead of him at this point. But he does have good stuff and he's versatile. We can start him or bring him out of the 'pen."

Billings made a few appearances with Oakland in 2012, but he spent the majority of the year in Sacramento, posting a 3.98 ERA in 133 1/3 innings as a starter. So far this spring, the 27-year-old has performed well, allowing one earned run over 4 2/3 innings.

"I'm just trying to get ready to play baseball and make whatever impression I can on the team," Billings said. "I want to be a positive influence in the clubhouse and be myself."

Even though the right-hander has gotten good results this spring, he is still tinkering with a few of his pitches while he can before he settles in later in March for final preparations for the year.

"I'm always messing with grips, always experiment with how you want to use pitches in certain situations," Billings said. "We're just getting ready for the regular season, so everything is just practice now. I didn't have my fastball command in my first couple outings; I was just kind of getting by with my stuff. But now we're kind of getting into the thick of camp, and I'm starting to feel more comfortable."

Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.