Saarloos among four cut by Athletics

Saarloos among four cuts

PHOENIX -- The A's on Sunday pared their roster by four, optioning left-hander Jerry Blevins and righty Henry Rodriguez to Triple-A Sacramento and reassigning righty Kirk Saarloos and catcher Matt LeCroy to their Minor League camp.

Saarloos, a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, is probably the most familiar face to A's fans among those sent packing. He spent parts of three seasons in the big leagues with the A's (2004-06) and in 2005 was one of the best No. 5 starters in the American League, winning 10 games while posting a 4.17 ERA in 27 starts.

He was traded to the Reds in January 2007 and went 1-5 with a 7.17 ERA in 34 games over four stints with Cincy, and he appeared in 18 games for the organization's Triple-A affiliate. He signed a Minor League contract with Oakland in January and posted a 3.60 ERA in five Cactus League appearances this spring.

A's manager Bob Geren said he wasn't sure if Saarloos, who also frequently worked out of the Oakland bullpen, would be a starter or a reliever at Sacramento.

"When an opportunity arises [with the A's], hopefully he'll be pitching well down there and get a chance."

Blevins was acquired in the midseason trade that sent catcher Jason Kendall to the Cubs and posted a 9.64 ERA in six games with the A's last in the year. His appeared in six Cactus League games this spring, going 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA over six innings.

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Rodriguez, 21, impressed the coaching staff with three scoreless relief appearances this spring, hitting 100 mph on the radar gun on occasion, but he struggled with his command on Saturday, his first start, before settling down and throwing a scoreless second inning in Oakland's 10-2 victory. He'll likely start the season at Double-A Midland.

LeCroy, a veteran signed to a Minor League deal early this year, went hitless in two Cactus League at-bats.

"There have been a lot of tough decisions this spring," Geren said. "It's a very deep, talented group of guys."

In the wake of the quartet of cuts, the A's have 38 players left in big league camp, including 32 players on the 40-man roster. They currently are carrying 17 pitchers, 10 infielders, eight outfielders and three catchers, and they'll have to make 10 more cuts before leaving for Japan on Wednesday for a season-opening trip against the world champion Red Sox.

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.