A's relievers willing to be flexible in late innings

A's relievers willing to be flexible in late innings

PEORIA, Ariz. -- A's manager Bob Melvin is in the early stages of plotting out his bullpen configuration, a process that could potentially be ongoing through the season.

Melvin has several closing options on the table and may not necessarily single out just one ahead of Opening Day, noting Tuesday that it will likely be a fluid situation. The players involved, he said, are on board with just about anything.

"I'm starting to get there, so we'll have that conversation with the guys in the bullpen a little bit later on," Melvin said. "But the fact of the matter is that these guys, it really doesn't matter to them. They just want to pitch, and when you have guys like Ryan Madson who closed for us last year who's telling me, 'I'll pitch anytime you need me to pitch, in any inning,' that goes a long way in making the conversations easier.

"Even when I do have the conversation with them, I don't know that there will be an exact science to that either."

Along with Madson, Santiago Casilla has extensive experience closing. Sean Doolittle and John Axford are capable of the job as well. The A's also have a pair of more-than-capable setup men in Ryan Dull and Liam Hendriks, with room for at least one more in the bullpen.

Doolittle notches the save

The A's are still mulling how best to make use of their 25th roster spot. They could bring along a fifth outfielder and keep the traditional seven in the bullpen, or add an eighth reliever and forego carrying an additional position player.

"As of right now, there's one more spot in the bullpen, and whether that's a lefty I'm not sure," Melvin said. "We do have a couple guys that we're looking at as far as that goes."

Left-hander Daniel Coulombe was considered a favorite entering camp, and another southpaw, non-roster pitcher Ross Detwiler, appeared to be pitching his way into the mix, but both have since struggled to the tune of a 9.39 ERA.

Being left-handed isn't a requirement, though.

"It's nice to have a second lefty, but if you look at the guys we have in our bullpen, there aren't too many two-inning guys, and you need guys that can throw more than one inning for you, so that factors in as well," Melvin said.

Right-hander Raul Alcantara, who is out of options, will certainly be considered for this role, should he be denied a rotation job. Then there's hard-throwing Frankie Montas, who continues to impress in camp.

"I wouldn't count him out," Melvin said.

• Right-hander Chris Bassitt threw of all his pitches in a bullpen session Tuesday for the first time since his Tommy John procedure. Bassitt is eyeing a June return to Oakland's rotation, barring any setbacks.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.