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Grant Balfour named A's closer; roster finalized for Japan

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New role: Grant Balfour was named closer Tuesday

A’s pitcher Grant Balfour will begin the season as the team’s closer, manager Bob Melvin announced Tuesday.
Balfour beat out lefty Brian Fuentes for the role during spring training. The right-hander recorded a 2.47 ERA in 62 innings last year as a setup man.

The 34-year-old Balfour has been in the big leagues for eight years and has totaled 10 saves in his career, but has never had the full-time gig for an extended period of time.

The A’s were looking for a new closer after trading Andrew Bailey to the Boston Red Sox in the offseason.

Rallying for a tie: In their final home spring training game in Arizona, the A’s rallied with three runs in bottom of the ninth to force a 5-5 tie in 10 innings against the Chicago Cubs. Kila Ka’aihue and Jonny Gomes both hit late homers to help the A’s dig out of a 4-1 deficit. Yoenis Cespedes, recently named the A’s starting center fielder, went 2-for-5. Opening Day starter Brandon McCarthy allowed four runs, only two of which were earned, in four innings of work.

A’s option pair to Triple-A: The A’s optioned right-handed pitcher Brad Peacock and left-hander Pedro Figueroato Triple-A Sacramento. With the move, the A’s 30-man travel roster for the trip to Japan for the March 28 season opener is finalized. The total includes 27 players on the 40-man roster and three nonroster invitees. The breakdown includes 14 pitchers, two catchers, eight infielders and six outfielders.

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