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Oakland A's calling up Arnold Leon for bullpen duty, demote R.J. Alvarez

The Athletics are bringing up a fresh arm to help a desperately short-handed bullpen.

Arnold Leon pitches for the Oakland Athletics during spring training.
Arnold Leon pitches for the Oakland Athletics during spring training.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics called up right-handed pitcher Arnold Leon for Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Angelsaccording to a tweet by Manolo Hernandez D. on twitter, citing Mexican sources. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle confirmed that report, noting that today was Leon's turn to pitch for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. The Athletics announced the move officially later in the day, and optioned out reliever R.J. Alvarez to Triple-A.

The move is prompted by a bullpen crisis arising out of consecutive short outings from starters Kendall Graveman and Drew Pomeranz, and Jesse Chavez starting on Thursday to allow Jesse Hahn's blister to heal. Alvarez cannot return to the 25-man roster for at least 10 days unless another player on the active roster is placed on the disabled list.

Monday night, Reliever Dan Otero threw 42 pitches over four innings and earned the win after starter Kendall Graveman exited after failing to record an out in the fourth inning, giving up three runs (two earned). The A's also used Evan Scribner and Tyler Clippard in that contest. A's manager Bob Melvin said Dan Otero should be available today, according to Joe Stiglich

R.J. Alvarez was basically asked to take a bullet for the bullpen during Tuesday's 14-1 loss to the Angels. He threw 48 pitches in relief of Drew Pomeranz, who faced one batter in the sixth inning after give up five runs (four earned). After Alvarez gave up six runs in the sixth inning, including the runner he inherited from Pomeranz, the reliever faced two more batters in the seventh, and exited having thrown 48 pitches. Fernando Abad relieved Alvarez only to give up a three-run home run, and threw 20 pitches himself in the seventh. First baseman and former college pitcher Ike Davis was called upon to pitch the eighth inning, a nine-pitch 1-2-3 effort.

Arnold Leon has made two starts for the Nashville Sounds, giving up seven earned runs over 8⅓ innings, though five of those runs were conceded during the Sounds' visit to thin air Colorado Springs. He is the answer to the trivia question, "Who was the first rookie called up by the A's in 2014?" Leon appeared for one day as the 26th man for the May 7 traditional doubleheader against the Seattle Mariners, the make-up game for the April game lost for failure to cover the infield against overnight rains. Leon was either going to be available as a long reliever in the second game, or he would have started if Drew Pomeranz pitched in relief during the first game. Leon's number ultimately was not called that day.

Future moves

With R.J. Alvarez getting optioned out tonight, the A's have a few internal possibilities to consider for another move. Leon is essentially here because Alvarez is not yet valuable enough to be a dead arm in the bullpen for today and possibly tomorrow, and Dan Otero should have his pitches limited today, if possible. Normally, you have to wait ten days before a player can be recalled from being optioned, but that does not apply if the recalled player is replacing an injured player going on the disabled list.

Ben Zobrist thinks he will be ready to return Thursday, but if he can't, and the A's still consider Alvarez their best choice in the back of the bullpen, then Alvarez could return early if Zobrist goes on the disabled list.

If it is not Alvarez, however, I think Ryan Cook or Pat Venditte could be prime candidates to get called up. Cook has the advantage of already being on the 40-man roster, but the ambidextrous Venditte continues to impress in Triple-A, throwing 10 innings of scoreless baseball for Nashville. He has walked six batters while striking out nine, but his career strikeout-to-walk ratio is around 4-to-1, and was 3.12-to-1 for Triple-A Scranton in 2014.