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Ex-Red Sox Craig Breslow lends left hand to Athletics

Oakland Athletics reliever Craig Breslow is done being typecast as a situational southpaw.

The former Red Sox still functions as the A’s lefty specialist. But his mix of fastball, changeup and curve has compelled manager Bob Geren and pitching coach Curt Young to continue using him beyond that role.

“We picked him up off waivers, and he’s been just what we’ve been looking for,” Young said prior to last night’s series opener against the Sox at Fenway Park. “He’s done a nice job against left-handers, but it really hasn’t been a strictly situational lefty-type position for us. We feel comfortable with him against righties with that good changeup, and he moves the ball around in the strike zone.

“When he does that he has a good chance against right or left, and he can pitch more than an inning. We feel really good bringing him in for tied or winning situations.”

Breslow signed with Milwaukee in 2002 after graduating with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale. He made his major league debut with the Padres in 2005.

The PawSox bought Breslow’s contract July 13, 2006. He made 13 relief appearances for the Red Sox and was 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA and 12 strikeouts. Breslow appeared in 49 games (68 2/3 innings) for the PawSox in 2007, and was an International League All-Star. With lefties Hideki Okajima and Javier Lopez already on the Red Sox roster, there was no place for Breslow.

“I actually had some really good years in Triple A up there but kind of never got a chance,” Breslow said. “It’s pretty hard to establish a career in a place like Boston or New York because the leash is shorter and you don’t have enough time to go through the growing pains.

“You come up to do a job and you either do it or you don’t. If you don’t do it they are going to find somebody that does.”

Cleveland claimed Breslow off waivers March 23, 2008, and he pitched in seven games before being released May 29 that year. Breslow hooked on with the Twins with whom he appeared in 42 games (38 2/3 innings) and went 0-2 with a 1.63 ERA, the second lowest among lefty relievers in the AL with at least 35 innings.

The Twins, however, waived Breslow after his slow start this season, and Oakland picked him up May 20. Entering last night, Breslow had not allowed a run in 26 of his 33 innings and sported a 3.55 ERA.

“I’m throwing the ball well, getting a ton of use and there seems to be a need I can fill,” Breslow said. “I always felt I could get righties out with a curve or changeup to complement the fastball. Fortunately, I’ve gotten the opportunity to do that here.”

By Rich Thompson

July 28, 2009 · Reprinted from The Boston Herald © 2009

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