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Melvin says Graveman on ‘good path’ to return from DL when eligible

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(Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND — Bob Melvin remains optimistic that de facto No. 1 Kendall Graveman will be back atop the rotation in short order.

“He’s been playing some catch,” the Oakland Athletics’ manager said before Wednesday’s matinee. “He feels a lot better. So I’m encouraged that he’ll be able to come off when he’s able to come off the DL [on April 25].

Graveman exited his start last Friday after just 74 pitches due to what the team later called a strained right shoulder. Melvin explained that the A’s have been playing it safe with the emerging right-hander — as has also been the strategy with sidelined ace Sonny Gray.

“We felt like we’ve been fairly conservative with this,” Melvin said. “But obviously he’s an important guy. Now, nothing’s for sure, but I think we’re on a good path to him being able to come off [the DL next Tuesday].

Casilla in ‘midseason form’

Santiago Casilla is officially available to pitch in back-to-back games, according to Melvin. The club had hesitated to use the 36-year-old too aggressively in the opening weeks after a Visa delay pushed back his arrival at the A’s spring training camp.

Casilla locked down the ninth on Tuesday for his second save and has produced scoreless outings five on the six times he’s taken the mound.

“He looks like he’s in midseason form now,” Melvin said.

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