The Oakland Athletics are in the midst of a six-game losing streak that has dropped them into last place the AL West. While they are only three games back of first, the Texas Rangers have gotten back their two big bats in Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz and are in a position to start putting some space between themselves and the rest of the division. And as things have deteriorated for the A's, it shouldn't be surprising that in-fighting has officially begun.
A's closer Brian Fuentes was brought into the A's-Angels game Monday night in the eighth inning. He walked a batter and got another batter out. Michael Wuertz then came into the game and proceeded to give up three runs. One run was attached to Fuentes' walk, which means Fuentes took the loss to drop to 1-7. After the game Fuentes unloaded on manager Bob Geren:
What did you think of the situation you were placed in tonight?
Fuentes: It's surprising yet not surprising all at the same time.
How do you feel with the way the manager has handled you as a reliever?
Fuentes: Pretty poorly.
How much communication do you have with him?
Why is it pretty poorly?
Fuentes: There's just no communication. Two games, on the road, bring the closer in a tied game, with no previous discussions of doing so. And then, tonight, in the seventh inning, I get up. I haven't stretched, I haven't prepared myself. If there was some communication beforehand I would be ready to come into the game - which I was, when I came into the game, I was ready. Just lack of communication. I don't think anybody really knows which direction he's headed.
Fuentes has been filing in as closer while Andrew Bailey wraps up his rehab at Sacramento. Fuentes has nailed down some saves, but he has also struggled at times. However, it appears as though his complaints are in relation to when he's been brought in for non-save situations. Geren was questioned about Fuentes' role before Monday's game and he said, "I can use anybody late in the game," Geren said. "It's been that way. Everybody knows that."
Given how Geren has utilized the bullpen to date, it's hard to tell if he really has a handle on how best to utilize his relief pitchers. The A's bullpen was supposed to be a strength for the team but it's been anything but that. The A's need every zero they can get from their pitchers given the offensive struggles. Instead they're just barely making it by at this point. It will be interesting to see how Geren responds to this challenge from Fuentes.