The Oakland Athletics sent Nate Freiman on optional assignment to the Class Low-A Beloit Snappers today to clear a roster space for Drew Pomeranz to start this evening's game against the Houston Astros.
The rule that requires a player to spend at least 10 days in the minor leagues does not apply if a player's minor league season ends before the expiration of those 10 days. To allow Freiman to be recalled earlier than the normal 10-day minimum, Freiman will be assigned to the Beloit Snappers, the A's Low-A affiliate in Wisconsin, because the team's Triple-A, Double-A, and High-A affiliates are all either playoff-bound or leading their minor league standings. Beloit's season ends on September 1, and Freiman could be recalled on the 2nd. The six-foot-eight first baseman otherwise could not return until September 6.
The next likely choice for demotion would have been Andy Parrino, though that would have left the A's without a backup in middle infield. The A's choices were rather limited, with the A's already playing with only six relievers. The other position players with options are Craig Gentry, Josh Reddick, Eric Sogard, Derek Norris, and Stephen Vogt.
Pomeranz, 25, went on the disabled list after a game on June 16 against the Texas Rangers where, after allowing seven earned runs in 3⅔ innings, he broke a bone in his non-throwing hand punching a chair. He began pitching competitively again for the Sacramento River Cats on July 12. In eight starts for the River Cats, Pomeranz is 3-1 with a 3.69 ERA in 46⅓ innings, with 54 strikeouts, 17 walks, and six home runs allowed. In his last six starts, Pomeranz has a 3.05 ERA with 41 strikeouts, 15 walks, and only three home runs allowed in 38⅓ innings.
Starting Pomeranz today allows the A's to start Sonny Gray, Jon Lester, Scott Kazmir, and Jeff Samardzija in the four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels starting Thursday in Anaheim.
Jason Hammel's excellent start on Tuesday evening against the Astros (7 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 1 HR, 1 BB, 6 SO) makes it less likely that Pomeranz will remain on the active roster to start in place of Hammel on Monday, September 1 against the Seattle Mariners at the Coliseum. If Pomeranz is not needed for a September 1 start, the Athletics are likely to send him on optional assignment after his Wednesday start and recall either a reliever or another infielder, even one not currently on the 40-man roster such as Tyler Ladendorf or Alden Carrithers.