OAKLAND -- The choice not to start Bartolo Colon in Game 5 of the American League Division Series was difficult enough for Bob Melvin. Deciding whether to use him out of the bullpen for Thursday's elimination affair against the Tigers at 8 p.m. ET on TBS may prove even harder.
Detroit had no problem using its Game 1 starter in relief on Tuesday, and Max Scherzer's outing proved significant for the winning Tigers. But Melvin would prefer to stay away from his ace unless absolutely necessary.
"Bartolo's willing to do anything and he was great about it, but I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with his routine in that type of situation," Melvin said during a conference call on Wednesday. "We will see tomorrow.
"He's open for anything, but he does have a little different routine and I'm not sure how I'm going to handle that yet."
Melvin opted to go with rookie Sonny Gray as Thursday's starter, and if the A's can win it without using Colon, they'd be able to pitch him against the Red Sox in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series at Fenway Park on Saturday.
Either way, Melvin said Colon took Wednesday's news well.
"First of all, imagine how difficult it was for me," the skipper said. "This guy has 18 wins and has been our ace, and been as consistent as you could ever be. And he's an All-Star on top of it, 40-year-old veteran. He made it easy on me. He looked at me and said, 'OK, I just want a win.'
"He's a man of few words as it is, but it made the conversation difficult on me because he could have had a gripe, and I would not have been surprised if he did. But like I said, he made it easy on me and said, 'I just want to win.'"
So if not Colon, does Game 3 starter Jarrod Parker become available in relief?
That's debatable, too, since the righty made just 73 pitches before exiting Monday's victory after five innings. There's a sense Parker could be dealing with fatigue issues.
"Let's see how he is tomorrow," Melvin said. "He was sore after the game he pitched and we don't want him going out there when he's not close to 100 percent. I'm sure he will be willing to, because it will be an all-hands-on-deck-type situation, but we will have to see how he feels tomorrow."
Callaspo may start at second base in Game 5
OAKLAND -- If A's manager Bob Melvin makes a change to his postseason lineup -- a matter he's discussed but mainly elected to avoid through the first four games of the American League Division Series -- the change will come at second base.
The lone difference between Tuesday's Game 4 lineup and the lineup for Game 5, airing at 5 p.m. PT Thursday on TBS, would be whether Alberto Callaspo gets the nod instead of Eric Sogard.
Sogard has started every game of the postseason, going 0-for-9 with one walk, and has been pinch-hit for by Callaspo in three of those games. In his role as pinch-hitter, Callaspo has gone 1-for-3 with a leadoff double in the eighth inning of Game 2 and a hard-hit flyout against Max Scherzer with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth inning of Game 4.
"The balance always with him is can you pick a spot in a game where it's a leverage situation and you know you're going to get your matchup with him," Melvin said on Wednesday. "He hits well both left- and right-handed, so that's what we weigh because we typically make in-game moves and he's a big part of those.
"There is definitely a chance that he could start. If not, you may look at him the same as we always do, looking to put him in in a big spot. I don't look to any other changes."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.