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With rotation set, three 'pen roles up for grabs

With rotation set, three 'pen roles up for grabs

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Oakland's rotation is firmly set, barring another ill-fated injury, but the club still has several bullpen decisions to make in advance of Opening Day.

As expected, manager Bob Melvin confirmed Tuesday that Jesse Chavez and Tommy Milone will replace injured hurlers Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin in a rotation that already includes Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Dan Straily.

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With Chavez's late spring emergence in a starting role, the A's will have to replace him in the bullpen. They are also preparing to potentially enter the season without righty setup man Ryan Cook, who has yet to appear in a spring game after a bout with shoulder inflammation. He'll throw in a simulated game on Thursday.

Add in another open bullpen spot, and that's three up for grabs next to closer Jim Johnson and fellow relievers Luke Gregerson, Sean Doolittle and Dan Otero, all locks. Lefty Fernando Abad likely gets one of them, and right-hander Evan Scribner is a good bet for another in a long-relief role.

The A's would still need one more reliever from the group of Drew Pomeranz, Josh Lindblom, Joe Savery and Arnold Leon. Pomeranz will be stretched out to start, so expect him to begin the season at Triple-A Sacramento to provide rotation depth. Leon, too, will be stretched out, and the A's will also attempt to do the same with Savery. Lindblom, who also has the ability to both start and relieve, seemingly has the edge.

The right-hander, acquired in the Craig Gentry deal that sent Michael Choice to Texas, has allowed five runs on 14 hits in 11 spring innings for a 4.09 ERA, walking three and fanning eight.

"Depending on the Cook situation, it may turn out that we have a guy at the big league level that we're looking to stretch out even more," said Melvin. "It's also tough to do. Jesse was pretty unique being able to do that. If you needed him to give you six innings in a particular game, he's able to do that. He's been a starter before and has the unique ability to sit around for a while and still do that for you. We'll see if we have anyone else who's able to do that type of thing."

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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