OAKLAND – The A’s welcomed Jesse Chavez back to their starting rotation Sunday, a not-so-unexpected move after Kendall Graveman was optioned to Triple-A Nashville.
Chavez broke camp as Oakland’s long reliever but did an admirable job in Thursday’s spot start against the Angels, allowing just one hit (a two-run homer) in six innings. He posted a 7-6 record and 3.14 ERA in 19 starts before the All-Star break last season in his first extended chance at starting in the major leagues, then returned to the bullpen after the A’s acquired Jon Lester.
“Not only is he able to (start) on a moment’s notice, he showed what he’s capable of doing in the first half of last year,” manager Bob Melvin said Sunday morning. “He was as good as a lot of the guys on our team that (were) All-Stars. We’re lucky to have a guy like Jesse Chavez.”
Where he slots into the rotation isn’t known yet. Sonny Gray will start Tuesday’s series opener at home against the Angels. But Melvin said the team would wait to see how Jesse Hahn (recovering from a blister on his throwing hand) came out of Sunday’s throwing session. Once the A’s know where Hahn will slide in – probably Wednesday or Thursday against the Angels – they’ll find a spot for Chavez.
“It’s just a different title and role,” Chavez said. “That’s how I look at it. I’ve still gotta go out there and do my job. Throw strikes and give us the best chance to win, and go as deep as I can in the ballgame.”
Graveman led the majors with a 0.36 ERA in spring training and won a rotation spot after coming over from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson trade. But he went 1-2 with an 8.27 ERA in four starts in the regular season, struggling to keep the ball down in the zone and get the same kind of movement that perplexed hitters in the Cactus League.
“I think he’s trying a little too hard and putting some pressure on himself,” Melvin said. “For a guy that had such a quick road to the big leagues, now he’s going through something he’s never really had to go through before. We expect him back, this is just a respite for him.”
Ryan Cook was recalled from Triple-A Nashville to take Graveman’s roster spot. Melvin said he envisions Cook handling the seventh inning role when the A’s have a lead, with Dan Otero serving a long relief role.
Jarrod Parker will throw five innings (about 75 pitches) in his second rehab start Tuesday for Single-A Stockton.
In other injury news, center fielder Coco Crisp could start taking batting practice at the end of the upcoming week, Melvin said. Whenever Crisp is close to game readiness, possibly in mid-to late May, he’ll go on a brief rehab assignment before returning.