BOSTON -- The A's are not yet ready to rename Jim Johnson their closer, but they may be close.
Asked Friday before the start of a three-game set vs. the Red Sox about the status of the ninth inning, manager Bob Melvin smiled and said, "We have some options, let's put it that way."
"Jim Johnson is pitching his way into late-inning stuff again," he noted. "How we get there, I think the potential is there for anything at this point."
After giving up at least two runs in three of his first five appearances for his new team, Johnson has not allowed a run over his last seven outings. Opponents are hitting just .188 against him over that stretch.
During Johnson's ninth-inning absence, Melvin has been playing to matchups with lefty Sean Doolittle and right-hander Luke Gregerson, but neither has jumped out of the pack. Doolittle has allowed seven runs in his last five games, and Gregerson has surrendered four over his last six outings.
Cespedes no longer hampered by hamstring
BOSTON -- Yoenis Cespedes returned to left field for the first time in more than a week for Friday's opener vs. the Red Sox.
The A's outfielder, who strained his left hamstring in Houston last week, had been relegated to designated-hitter duties since returning on Tuesday.
But Cespedes was back in his usual spot for the club's three-game series opener at Fenway Park, where he's a career .231 hitter over just three games.
"That's why we kind of took it easy the first couple of days," said manager Bob Melvin. "You never know until he actually gets out there, but we feel like he's ready to go."
With Cespedes back in the outfield, Brandon Moss returned to first base, while Daric Barton -- 4-for-9 in his career vs. starter Clay Buchholz, but hitting just .146 on the season -- sat on the bench.
• Catcher Derek Norris entered Friday with five straight multihit games (11-for-18) and was batting a team-leading .386, but he was left out of the lineup against the right-handed Buchholz, as the A's stuck with the platoon system and started John Jaso behind the plate.
Jaso hit .308 over his first 10 games, but he was just 6-for-32 (.188) over his last 13.
Norris is expected to start Saturday against lefty Jon Lester.