After officially agreeing to a two-year pact with the Oakland Athletics, Santiago Casilla insisted that he harbors no bitterness following his tumultuous exit from AT&T Park.
The three-time World Series winner pitched his way out of the San Francisco Giants’ closer’s role late last season after amassing nine blown saves.
He never even made it to the mound when manager Bruce Bochy summoned five different relievers during the team’s epic meltdown in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.
“I have left that in the past,” Casilla said on a conference call via an A’s team interpreter. “It’s a new year. It’s a new team. I have left that in the past.”
Casilla said that he had offers from multiple clubs — singling out the Milwaukee Brewers by name — but added that he was excited to return to Oakland where he spent the first six seasons of his career.
The team that didn’t show any interest was the Giants.
“I would have been happy to return but I never got an offer from them and I understood that probably they would have another [plan] for their bullpen,” Casilla said. “So, I understood it, but I would have been happy to return to the Giants if I would have had an offer from them.”
Casilla’s struggles with the Giants became so pronounced toward the end of 2016 that Bochy avoided using the right-hander at home, so as to avoid prompting a chorus of boos from the home crowd.
A’s general manager David Forst views Casilla as the ideal change-of-scenery candidate. Last year, his strikeout-per-nine ratio (10.1) was the best of his career.
“His numbers were really good — 65 strikeouts to 19 walks,” Forst said. “As we got through the offseason I think we felt like he was being overlooked a little bit just because of some of the narratives surrounding his departure from the Giants.”
“Look. I wasn’t there and I don’t know exactly what went on,” Forst added. “But it seemed like a few blown saves toward the end of the year kind of marred what was otherwise a fantastic season for him.”
Casilla’s role in Oakland is as of yet undefined, as he joins a pen that also includes incumbent close Ryan Madson along with setup men John Axford and Sean Doolittle.