The Oakland A's will open their season with eight men in their bullpen and only three position players on the bench, as Oakland looks to protect its young starting rotation early in the year. The A's announced to beat writers before their spring training finale that Frankie Montas and Daniel Coulombe would both be on the Opening Day roster, meaning that outfielder Jaff Decker would start the season in Triple-A. The A's begin the year with an eight-man bullpen and only one true back-up outfielder, Mark Canha.
With Sonny Gray on the DL to start the year, Oakland's rotation includes only one pitcher who has been on an Opening Day roster in a previous season: Kendall Graveman. Cognizant of that inexperience, the A's are starting the year with length in the bullpen to protect their young starters, who may not be ready to go much more than five innings early in the season. Montas, who has been a starter for most of his professional career, can go multiple innings. He also gives the A's another fireballer in a bullpen that now includes several pitchers that can throw 95+. Montas missed much of last season with two rib injuries, so he will likely not be able to throw more than 100 innings this season even if he remains healthy all year. Montas has some limited big league experience with the Chicago White Sox, but this will be his first Opening Day roster as a big leaguer.
Decker's assignment to Nashville means that the A's are counting on Canha to be able to fill in at centerfield should Rajai Davis need a game off. Canha played centerfield for a good part of the late spring. He missed most of last year with a hip injury but has been healthy this season. Adam Rosales, who is the A's only back-up middle infielder to start the year, can also play in the outfield if needed.
The A's open their season on Monday night at the refreshed Coliseum against the Los Angeles Angels at 7:05pm. Before the game, the A's will dedicate the field as Rickey Henderson Field, honoring the Hall of Fame outfielder.