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Elephant Rumblings: Kyle Muller makes case for rotation spot

Mark Kotsay said that the rotation plan could be set as soon as Tuesday.

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Kansas City Royals v Oakland Athletics Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

With just over a week remaining in the Cactus League season, the Oakland Athletics still have some unanswered questions when it comes to their Opening Day roster. The answer to one of those questions may be clearer now after Saturday’s performance. Kyle Muller allowed three runs and struck out five while pitching into the sixth inning Saturday against the Reds and looks as though he has positioned himself to grab one of the two remaining rotation spots.

Oakland’s rotation picture has been complicated by an injury to Paul Blackburn who will begin the season on the injured list due to a torn fingernail on his pitching hand. Shintaro Funjinami and Drew Rucinski look like locks for the rotation at this point. James Kaprielian probably is as well as long as there are no setbacks from offseason shoulder surgery. That leaves Muller and a group including Ken Waldichuk, Adam Oller and JP Sears competing for the final two spots.

A’s manager Mark Kotsay was complementary of Muller’s performance Saturday and pointed out that he was able to establish the fastball early on.

“He came out that first inning and really pounded the zone with his fastball,” manager Mark Kotsay said postgame. “I think he’s recognizing the importance of the fastball and got through a full five innings. I thought he did a good job.”

He added that the rotation picture could be set as soon as Tuesday.

Fujinami is scheduled to start Sunday’s game against the Dodgers and Rucinski is listed among the pitchers that could follow. The A’s could also elect to have Rucinski pitch in a minor league game instead as they continue to try and get everyone stretched out.

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