I foresee manager Bob Melvin continuing to play the matchups, picking the best reliever for specific high-leverage situations -- until, of course, one of them rises above the rest, which typically happens. Johnson's recent outings have been very encouraging, and if he keeps it up, I wouldn't be surprised if he's back in the ninth inning, particularly given his track record and the fact that a large chunk of the team's payroll -- $10 million -- is invested in him.
What is A.J. Griffin's status? And when is he expected to return?
-- Chris T., San Jose, Calif.
Griffin, sidelined by a flexor strain in his right elbow, is strengthening his arm and nearing the start of a throwing program. That still puts him more than a month away from a return, because the right-hander will not only need to get through several long-toss and bullpen sessions, but also a handful of rehab outings. He's essentially going through Spring Training again, so it's very possible he won't be ready to rejoin the A's until June.
Is there a chance the A's could bring up an outfielder from Triple-A if Josh Reddick doesn't start to produce?
I think it would take several more weeks of unproductive at-bats for the A's to even entertain that option, especially considering there's not an obvious replacement waiting in the wings at Triple-A Sacramento. Only Kent Matthes, claimed off waivers by Oakland in March, is currently on the 40-man roster, and he's off to a slow start in Sacramento, as is Michael Taylor. Shane Peterson is having an excellent April, but he likely wouldn't be much of an offensive upgrade at the big league level over Reddick, whose defensive value, remember, is unmatched.
Reddick's swing is pretty consistent to his 2012 form; he just doesn't seem to be recognizing pitches very well. However, his at-bats have looked ever so slightly better in recent days, and the A's are hoping that a string of hits will get him going again. In the meantime, the team also has Craig Gentry and Brandon Moss to rotate in right field, though Oakland likes keeping Gentry available for center-field duties, with Coco Crisp's health always in flux.
Do you think the A's would consider putting Drew Pomeranz in the rotation? He's been great out of the bullpen, but I can't help but think he'd be even better as a starter, and most certainly better than Tommy Milone and Dan Straily.
-- Jonah R., Novato, Calif.
It seems pretty premature and somewhat unnecessary to be discussing potential rotation changes, considering Oakland boasts the best ERA (2.57) in the American League, heading into play Thursday. Milone has had two nice starts, and Straily has had one bad game in three outings. Now, Pomeranz has indeed been very good for this club, but his current value is in a long-relief role. We saw how significant of a piece Jesse Chavez could be in that role last year, and Pomeranz has since filled it nicely.
With that being said, I do think the A's see Pomeranz as a starter at some point, and he would seemingly be next in line for a rotation spot in the event of an injury. For now, they have a good thing going.
Since you have a unique perspective of the clubhouse us fans aren't afforded, I'm wondering, who is the goofiest A's player? The loudest? The quietest? And who are your go-to guys for quotes? It seems every team has one or two, right?
-- Dave M., Los Angeles
Without question, Moss is the goofiest and the loudest. Josh Donaldson can also be loud at times. Both, not coincidentally, happen to be two of the better talkers, though the A's have several good quotes, as Doolittle, Derek Norris and Reddick also come to mind, among others. Pomeranz is probably the quietest, at least from what I've noticed.