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Off-days give A's bullpen needed rest

Off-days give A's bullpen needed rest

Off-days give A's bullpen needed rest

SEATTLE -- Sunday concluded a stretch of 30 games in 31 days for the A's, who are now looking forward to three off-days over the next eight days.

Oakland will enjoy its first one Monday, and then one more after a two-game series with the visiting Reds. The third will come the following Monday, July 1.

Perhaps no one will enjoy these more than the bullpen arms, whose recent struggles, as rare as they are, might stem from the fatigue factor.

"You look at the results," manager Bob Melvin said, "and, yeah, maybe."

A's relievers Jerry Blevins and Ryan Cook, who are tied for 22nd in innings pitched (33 1/3) among American League relievers, gave up a combined five runs in Saturday's 7-5 loss to the Mariners. That upped the bullpen's total in the first six games on this road trip to 12 through 16 1/3 innings for a 6.61 ERA and a .324 opponents' average.

And that was before closer Grant Balfour, in a non-save situation, was charged for three runs in the 10th inning in Sunday's 6-3 loss.

"It's difficult, and I think they might be a little bit tired right now, which probably is natural," Melvin said. "We've had some close games, and these guys have been in a lot of games. It taxes you. So this is going to be a good little opportunity to get some rest."

Oakland's relief arms are not only racking up innings in games, but on the bullpen mound, as well. Recent changes in Official Baseball Rule 3.05 prohibit a manager from sending his current pitcher out to warm up with no intention of having him pitch simply because another pitcher is not ready to enter the game. The league believes this is one of many ways to speed up games, though it means relievers are constantly warming up.

"That's something you don't always see," Melvin said. "A lot of times what doesn't show up is a guy might be warming up. We monitor that a lot."

As for his rotation, the A's plan to stick with just four starters through this stretch, since they won't need a fifth one until July 5 in Kansas City. For this reason, they optioned righty Dan Straily to Triple-A Sacramento after Sunday's game.

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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