The reliever ripped the manager in print. The manager summoned the reliever into his office. The reliever apologized. The manager told the reliever he's no longer the closer. They cleared the air. Shook hands. Said afterward it's time to move on.
Predictable stuff in the wake of A's left-hander Brian Fuentes publicly criticizing manager Bob Geren after Monday's loss in Anaheim.
But what comes next will be the key.
Geren, in the final year of his contract, will be under a microscope like never before regarding his in-game managing, handling of the bullpen and communication with players.
After all, Fuentes wasn't apologizing for making the comments as much as he was for going public with them. If he had it over to do again, he would've said it again. "Just not to you guys," he said to the media.
General manager Billy Beane spoke with Geren on Tuesday but not Fuentes yet. The A's won't or can't suspend or fine Fuentes because the players' union wouldn't allow it, citing free speech. But Beane acknowledged it wasn't appropriate for Fuentes to make the comments publicly, though Beane said he understood the pitchers' frustration.
Fuentes lashed out after the A's lost their sixth straight game, after Fuentes took a loss in his fourth straight appearance, an A's record for a reliever. The new closer is Grant Balfour.
"If you look at our club the last month and a half, our pitching has been fantastic," Beane said. "We haven't scored a lot of runs, so it makes it challenging at the end of games for managing decisions or relievers coming in, and we expect perfection in an imperfect world."
Three Oakland relievers -- Joey Devine, Craig Breslow and Brad Ziegler -- threw one scoreless inning apiece Tuesday as the A's snapped their skid with a 6-1 win over the Angels. Fuentes and Balfour both got the night off.
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