The Oakland Athletics made some personnel adjustments on Friday, trimming down the active roster a bit as we head into the final two days before Opening Day.
Oakland designated first baseman Daric Barton and left-handed pitcher Travis Blackley for assignment. Reliever Jordan Norberto was also optioned to Triple-A Sacramento.
According to A’s beat writer Susan Slusser, Blackley could end up staying with the organization should he clear waivers and accept a minor league assignment to Sacramento – but Slusser also noted that Blackley said it would be a “tough decision”.
For Barton, however, it’s pretty hard to imagine him remaining in the A’s organization. He’s already been around the team since 2007, shuttling frequently between the big leagues and the minor leagues, and has been somewhat vocal about his unhappiness of not having a secured spot on the major league roster. Slusser said he declined any comments when leaving the A’s clubhouse on Friday, which also doesn’t make it seem likely that he’ll stick around.
The decision to DFA Blackley does seem a bit of a surprise. He had struggled throughout Spring Training, even expressing on a few occasions that he was confused by his poor performance, since he felt confident in his pitches. However, with the A’s about to head into the regular season with significant roster decisions to make (such as who will play in the infield), Billy Beane, Bob Melvin and company had to make some tough calls.
Blackley, a career journeyman, came up large for Oakland in the stretch run last season, turning in a crucial solid pitching performance against the Texas Rangers in the team’s thrilling AL West-clinching series in Oakland. He’s a particularly engaging and emotional player, on his Twitter account, when speaking with journalists and with the team itself. He’s already posted a lengthy “thank-you” message to fans and the organization, noting that he will forever have Oakland “imprinted in my DNA”.
The A’s also claimed two other pitchers on waivers - Danny Otero (he’ll head to Sacramento) and Josh Stinson (he’ll report to Double-A Midland).
Heading into the final two exhibition games of the preseason schedule, the A’s have another big cut to make – one available bullpen slot and four pitchers - Evan Scribner, Pedro Figueroa, Hideki Okajima and Mike Ekstrom – battling it out. It’ll be a busy weekend for the team.