HOUSTON -- Beginning Wednesday, the A's will have six starting pitchers with Drew Pomeranz being called up to start against the Astros.
The A's don't need the help, per se, but they want to be able to start the top four men in the rotation in a big series starting Thursday against the Angels, and Pomeranz's promotion for a day pushes Sonny Gray, Jon Lester, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija each back a day and in line to pitch in Anaheim with first place in the American League West on the line.
So what happens after Wednesday? Pomeranz doesn't know, and while manager Bob Melvin probably has a good idea, the only thing he'd say was that he didn't think a six-man rotation was more than a passing fancy.
``I said `Hi,' and `Get ready for tomorrow,''' Melvin said of his pregame conversation with Pomeranz, who was 3-1 with a 3.69 ERA for Triple-A Sacramento after being sent down.
As for what to do with six starters and whether Pomeranz might find a role in the bullpen, the manager said, `we'll take it day-to-day on this one and see how he pitches tomorrow.''
The way Pomeranz talked, it seemed like that was his plan all along.
``Things are no different than before,'' the lefty said. ``I just want to put us in good position to win the game.''
Melvin said the only reason Pomeranz was sent down was because of the trades for starting pitching the A's made, but if Pomeranz hadn't broken his hand while taking out the frustrations of his last start June 16 on a clubhouse chair, it's possible the A's might have felt differently about their roster before the roster movement began in earnest on July 4
``You talk often about a 25-man roster and maybe 30-plus guys being part of the team, and he's definitely one of those guys,'' Melvin said. ``He's really been important to us in a starting role or in relief.''
Even so, it's possible, even likely, that Pomeranz will go back down after this start only to be recalled after the roster expands to 40 players on Monday because the A's have other needs in the bullpen and the infield.
Technically, the A's could send reliever Dan Otero, who has an option left, down again, but they did that last week in yet another roster crunch, only to bring him back when Sean Doolittle landed on the disabled list.
They won't do that. For one, to do it to someone who has been a vital part of the bullpen for two years is just cruel. And for another, the A's bullpen is already one man short.
The A's have more options at first base, although with the Angels supposed to throw left-handed starters at the A's Friday and Saturday,
The right-handed Freiman has been the A's first baseman against left-handed starters, but Melvin has the option of putting the switch-hitting Alberto Callaspo there or having one of his lefties, Brandon Moss or Stephen Vogt step in.
Punto took batting practice Monday and Tuesday and felt good and Lowrie took ground balls and did some throwing for the first time since going on the DL.
Melvin said he'd like to have both men get a couple of injury rehabilitation games in the minor leagues, but the minor league season is getting ready to shut down. Punto, who is closer to being ready, is likely to go out on a rehab assignment in the next few days, but it's not clear if Lowrie will be healthy enough soon enough.