Just one bullpen job appears to be open

Based on Melvin's comment, Scribner, Abad, Savery vying for last spot

Just one bullpen job appears to be open

PHOENIX -- Tough decisions have to be made at every camp this time of year, and the A's have no shortage of them to sort through right now.

Oakland has four catchers and four first basemen in camp, and too many relievers to count.

From the start, closer Jim Johnson and setup men Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook, Luke Gregerson and Dan Otero have been guaranteed jobs based on past performances. Long reliever Jesse Chavez, who has totaled 4 2/3 scoreless innings in two appearances this spring, also appears to be a lock.

That was made clear Tuesday morning when manager Bob Melvin suggested he only sees one bullpen job, not two, up for grabs.

"I think six of them could be fairly obvious, and then there's that seventh spot, and you always want that kind of competition," Melvin said. "You don't want to come in with no jobs available, even though I do tell these guys, just because you don't start with us doesn't mean you can't be a big piece for us, based on the amount of players we used the last couple of years."

Evan Scribner is a leading candidate, though at a disadvantage as a righty if the A's decide they want to carry a second left-hander to make up for the loss of Jerry Blevins. However, Scribner is also out of options, which could play in his favor, and he's pitched two perfect innings with three strikeouts this spring.

From the left side, Fernando Abad and waiver claim Joe Savery are the two to watch. Abad, acquired from the Nationals early in the offseason, has greatly impressed, allowing just one hit with no walks and four strikeouts in three shutout innings. Savery has only made one appearance, giving up two hits with one walk and one strikeout in 1 1/3 innings.

Because of their depth in this area, the A's are unlikely to consider any of their leftover starters for a bullpen spot. This means Tommy Milone, Josh Lindblom and Drew Pomeranz are likely to be stretched out and begin the season at Triple-A Sacramento, barring injury this spring to Oakland's expected five starters: Jarrod Parker, Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily.

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.