Brian Fuentes Replaces Grant Balfour As A's Closer

April 21, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Brian Fuentes (40) pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the eighth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

The A's have made a change at the back of their bullpen, with manager Bob Melvin officially naming Brian Fuentes as his new closer. Fuentes replaces Grant Balfour, who opened the season in the role after inheriting the job from Andrew Bailey, who was traded to the Red Sox over the winter.

Fuentes, who collected his 201st career save on Saturday, is no stranger to ninth-inning work and he candidly admits that he was never thrilled about pitching in a setup role.

"It was tough, but I understand the dynamics of the bullpen," Fuentes said. "You are going to go with the guy who is throwing the best, who is best suited for the job at the time, and at the beginning of the season that wasn't me."

Balfour and Fuentes each posted unremarkable numbers in spring training, although Balfour was better in 2011. He lost the job, however, after allowing seven earned runs in his last 5.1 innings after allowing just one earned run over his first 10 appearances. That rough stretch, combined with Fuentes' experience, was apparently all Melvin needed to make the change.

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