PHOENIX -- Bob Melvin had never heard the story of Dan Otero's circuitous route to the A's organization until a few days ago. Even in the wild world of baseball transactions, it's one for the annals.
Designated for assignment by the Giants on March 26 last year, Otero was claimed on waivers by the New York Yankees. The pitcher grabbed a flight to Tampa, Fla., the next day, but while he was 40,000 feet in the air, the Yankees changed their minds and designated him for assignment.
"I got off the plane and had all these voicemails and text messages that I'd been DFA'd again," Otero said. "I was thinking, 'Now what do I do?' So I sat in Tampa for two days and then the A's claimed me, and I flew back (to Arizona)."
Melvin grimaced as he heard the tale.
"Wow, that's not fair," the manager said. "I hope he at least got the miles."
Nope, but Otero got something better -- a real chance. The A's promptly shipped him to Triple-A Sacramento, where he posted absurd numbers as the River Cats' closer -- 0.99 ERA, 15 saves, one walk in 271/3 innings.
Even with a well-stocked bullpen, those eye-popping numbers earned the 29-year-old right-hander a promotion to Oakland on June 14, even though Melvin wasn't exactly sure how Otero would be used.
"He was the last guy in the bullpen and a guy we were looking at more for length or earlier in games," Melvin recalled.
But from the moment he took the mound with Oakland, Otero was almost as reliable an out machine as he was in Sacramento. Pitching primarily in the sixth and seventh innings, he quickly became a conduit to the late relievers. In 33 games, he posted a 1.38 ERA with just six runs allowed in 39 innings, and he walked just six.
Moreover, he didn't allow a single home run with either Sacramento and Oakland, and adding in 121/3 innings he pitched with the Giants in 2012, Otero still hasn't allowed his first major-league homer even though he's thrown 511/3 innings.
In short, he was found money for Oakland, and golden at that. As for Otero, he went from not knowing whether he had any kind of baseball future to pitching in the American League Division Series by year's end. He made appearances in four of the five ALDS games, threw 52/3 innings and didn't allow a run.
"That's what everybody dreams of, right?" Otero said. "It was a very tumultuous beginning to a very gratifying ending, to say the least."
So how does an effective control specialist guy who doesn't give up home runs get designated twice in three days? Otero wishes he had an answer.
"It was hectic," he said. "I wasn't with a team. I was bouncing back and forth. It was tough on my wife, who was pregnant at the time. It was tough on my parents and all the people who have supported me. But you know what? It was a neat experience to go through and now I embrace it, because it gave me a new opportunity. I just never wish it on anybody."
Manager Ned Yost is from Dublin, and he added bullpen coach Doug Henry (Hayward) last season. This year, Dale Sveum (Pinole) was hired as the third base coach and Don Wakamatsu (Hayward) as the bench coach.
All four once played on the legendary E. Bercovich travel team, and Sveum, Henry and Wakamatsu played together. Yost is about 10 years older than his three coaches but is glad to be surrounded by familiar locals.
"It's great, because when we go home, everybody knows how to get to Casper's (hot dogs)," Yost joked.