A’s now owners of a bountiful bullpen

When Tye Waller walked out with the lineup this morning, he sported a rather large smile on his face — not an uncommon sight, but one that this time came with a look that signaled something was up. “Now there’s a little something different in there today,” the A”s bench coach said. “But I’m not going to tell you. You reporters are smart enough to figure it out yourself.” And with that, I — along with everyone else — quickly scanned the bullpen list and noticed an extra name. That’s right, folks, we now have an eight-man bullpen in tow with the welcoming addition of Henry Rodriguez. The A’s shipped out Vin Mazzaro last night following his short-lived season debut, one that was filled with one too many walks for Mr. Bob Geren’s taste.

The A’s skipper is hoping the club will be able to string along a four-man rotation until Justin Duchscherer — scheduled to get a cortisone shot this afternoon — is back in action. Oakland has two days off soon (tomorrow and Monday), so the next time they’ll need a fifth starter is May 15 in Anaheim.

As for Mazzaro, his control is not where it needs to be. Nor is his mindset. He seemed to think he threw pretty well last night, but every pitch following the second inning said otherwise. He needs to realize that settling for a mediocre performance is not acceptable up here — something I don’t think ever sank in during his struggling period last season.

Nevertheless, the A’s now have a fully stocked bullpen, and Geren said all arms — aside from maybe Wuertz — are available for today’s game. I’d assume the manager would prefer to place Rodriguez in a non-pressure situation in his first appearance, but as we saw last night, sometimes that’s not an option. Rodriguez consistently throws in the mid-90s and often hits 100 on the gun, but he also often has command issues, as was the case in spring. Getting him to throw strikes will be key.

On another note, I’d like to introduce you all to Alex Espinoza, who will be helping me out as an associate reporter for the remainder of the season at all home games. Alex comes to us from grad school at Arizona State, and he’ll be contributing to A’s coverage in a number of ways, so be on the lookout for his work. In the meantime, I’m hoping that Alex’s presence frees me up a bit to not only blog more but work on some more in-depth and feature stories. So it’s a win-win situation for everyone. MLB.com runs a great internship program, one that I can thank for my start here. As some of you may recall, I was Mychael Urban’s intern two years ago and have since climbed the ranks because of that experience.  

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