MESA, Ariz. — Seven weeks after agreeing to a contract with Santiago Casilla, the A’s will get their first look at the veteran short reliever Sunday.
A’s manager Bob Melvin said he got word about 8:30 a.m. (MT) that Casilla’s ongoing visa problems in the Dominican Republic have been cleared up. He flies to Phoenix Saturday and will be in uniform Sunday.
That being said, there’s no settling on whether or not he’ll be taking part in the World Baseball Classic. He’d committed to do it a long time back, but no one thought it would take in excess of 40 days and 40 nights for him to make it to Hohokam Stadium.
Melvin hasn’t met Casilla yet, and while he’s heard that the veteran has been throwing in the A’s facility in the Dominican Republic, there’s no telling how close he might be to being able to throw in a game.
“It’s a relief to know that he’s finally on his way,” Melvin said Friday morning. “We’ve supported him for the WBC. Until he gets here and we talk, we don’t know what will happen there.”
Back on Jan. 19 the A’s and Casilla agreed to a two-year, $11 million contract and he figures to battle it out with Ryan Madson to be the club’s primary closer.
Casilla lost his closer’s job in San Francisco in September and was noticeably kept out of big moments in the playoffs by manager Bruce Bochy.
The right-hander, who will be 36 this season, had never had an ERA above 2.84 during his time with the Giants until 2016, when he skied to 3.57 although he had 31 saves. He got the chance to redeem his season against the Cubs in the postseason, but he gave up two hits in two-third of an inning in Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Cubs and didn’t pitch again in the series, which the Cubs won in four games.
Signed by the A’s out of the Dominican Republic under the name Jairo Garcia, Casilla had a 5.11 ERA during his six seasons with Oakland and saved just four games. He found himself with the Giants, three times having sub-2.00 ERAs in his seven seasons there.