OAKLAND -- Bob Melvin said the A's roster overhaul of the last 36 hours "was a lot to digest."
Left-handed starter Jon Lester tried to make it easy for his new manager. So did left fielder Jonny Gomes. The two former Boston players, coming to Oakland in the deal that sent Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox, were introduced on Friday and did their best to fit in as if this had always been the game plan.
"I'm going to go out here and perform for these guys and do the best I can to bring a championship here," said Lester, a two-time winner of a World Series ring and the new frontman for a deep starting rotation, coming in with a 10-7 record and 2.52 ERA.
"I got to see a few of these guys pitch against us from the other side and do really well. Obviously the numbers speak for themselves. I hope I can just fill my spot and do my job and get some innings and give these guys a chance to swing some bats and score some runs.''
Gomes, a right-handed batter who was the spiritual leader of a 2012 A's team that won the A.L. West by running down the Texas Rangers in the second half of the season, said he wasn't coming back "to be the new sheriff in town."
"These guys have done an unbelievable job last year and this year without me,'' Gomes said. "I'm here to add on to what this team has done. Six of them were in the All-Star game this year, and I haven't been to one. These guys are trumping me now. But I'll be ready when Bob Melvin calls on me.''
Lester will make his A's debut Saturday, meaning Melvin will be able to go right-left-left-right-right with his rotation: Sonny Gray, Lester, Scott Kazmir, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, who is the No. 5 man now with Jesse Chavez moving into the bullpen.
The Red Sox won the World Series in 2013, and Gomes knows he owes part of that championship ring to Lester, who went 4-1 in the postseason, including two wins in the Series. He allowed just one run in 151/3 innings for an 0.59 ERA.
"He's well-decorated and climbing the totem pole of left-handers in the game and in the postseason,'' Gomes said of Lester. "That's what (the media) sees. You don't get to see the work ethic, what goes into his championship pedigree.
"It's something to know that the best pitcher on the team is the hardest-working guy on the team. This is a pretty big piece to add to a ballclub. I've been blessed to play behind him, and I couldn't think of a better guy to toe the rubber in a big situation.''
The A's starting rotation already had a 46-27 record and 3.32 ERA -- the best in the American League -- before Lester joined them. "I was pretty happy with our club before," Melvin said. "To bring in another guy like this, who's used to being the No. 1 guy, it's pretty significant. It's exciting to be able to run out each and every day a guy your team feels will give you a great chance to win.''
To move Lester to the top of the rotation, Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young had to make a move at the other end. Hammel, who has lost all four of his starts since being traded from the Cubs a month ago, remains in the rotation with Chavez going to the bullpen, where he was effective for the A's last year.
In the A's clubhouse, the other players were ready when Lester and Gomes made their entrance at about 3:40 p.m. Right fielder Josh Reddick who was one of Gomes' disciples in 2012, had John Philips Sousa's "the Washington Post March" cued up and blaring out of the clubhouse speakers.
It was the kind of music you might hear on a fireworks night, which it was on Friday after the A's-Royals game at the Coliseum.
"This is a big deal, exciting," Reddick said. "This is a major move for us."
Sam Fuld, the center fielder picked up from the Twins on Thursday in a smaller deal that sent pitcher Tommy Milone to Minnesota, came in earlier in the day to less fanfare. But Fuld spent spring training and much of April with the A's before joining the Twins, and the A's were pleased to welcome back a player who had made a positive impression before a roster crunch forced him to find another club.
"It's exciting. It's why any of us play the game," Fuld said of joining a team with a solid shot at going deep into the postseason. "Especially as your career extends. I've had a taste. There's nothing that compares to that.
"I feel like I played well in Minnesota, but it feels like there was something lacking. The longer we were playing, the further out we got, and it's a little disheartening. Every player dreams of being in a playoff place like this.''
With the acquisition of Jon Lester, the A's starting staff has three 2014 All-Stars (Jeff Samardzija, Scott Kazmir, Lester) and their opening day starter (Sonny Gray). Here are their 2014 stats:
Starter W-L ERA
RHP Gray 12-3 2.65
LHP Kazmir 12-3 2.37
LHP Lester 10-7 2.52
RHP Samardzija 4-8 2.92