But since they had no choice, they were glad to have options when Esteban Loaiza and Rich Harden were placed on the disabled list within a three-day stretch.
"We built this team for this exact scenario," A's assistant general manager David Forst said.
"We've got at least four guys in the bullpen who have started major league games and are fully capable. Hopefully they will seize this opportunity and keep us afloat."
So far, the results have been positive.
Brad Halsey, taking Harden's place, allowed three runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings Tuesday in the A's 10-3 win over the Angels, leaving with a 4-3 lead. He took the loss on Sunday, but allowed only one earned run in the A's 3-2 loss.
Pitching in Loaiza's spot, Kirk Saarloos allowed one run on eights hits in five innings. It capped a seven-day stretch in which Saarloos saved a two-run game, finished a seven-run game, and started a game.
"That is cool," Saarloos said. "Save a game. End a game. Start a game. Win a game. What's next? Maybe I'll get an at-bat."
Saarloos wasn't bummed when the A's chose Halsey to pitch the first game. He was told there would probably be two openings in the rotation anyway.
"Brad's thrown the ball great and he deserves (to start) as much as anybody," he said. "We're here to win. It's not about my agenda."
Statements like that endear him to manager Ken Macha.
"Baseball's not always a fair game," Macha said.
"His attitude is exemplary. He'll do whatever it takes to help the team."
Pitching Depth Shows Up Early
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