The first game of Wednesday's doubleheader against the Mariners was an absolute nightmare. I mean, literally, I'm pretty sure it didn't happen, that I just dreamed it and that there was only one game yesterday in which the Athletics won 2-0. The A's left a dozen runners on base, they blew a save in a game in which Dan Straily had beaten Felix Hernandez, and they lost in extra innings on a defensive miscue by Daric Barton. Holy hell, it's all of AN's biggest fears all in one too-bad-to-be-true package. Oh, and one other thing -- Coco Crisp and Ryan Cook both exited with injuries. There, now it's all of our biggest fears. I'm just thankful that I got to stick around for an A's victory immediately thereafter or else I may have never watched baseball again.
It's the next day now, so we have initial reports on the injuries. We'll start with the good news. Or, relatively good news, at least, from Susan Slusser:
Crisp spent quite some time on the warning track before slowly walking off the field. He has a strained neck and was unavailable for the second game. Manager Bob Melvin estimated Crisp will miss "at least a couple of days."
Well, that could have been worse. Coco did indeed stay down for quite awhile, as he remained on the field while the Mariners came out to take their warmups. When you're sitting in the stands and you don't have Nico around to blast Ken Korach's soothing voice through a radio he bought in 1972, it is terrifying to watch one of your players lie injured on the field. You have no way of knowing what is going on or how bad the injury is. From my seat, this could have anything from a concussion to a back injury to a shoulder to a torn anything. Neck injuries aren't anything to sneeze at (and you also shouldn't sneeze when you have them because that hurts), but a strain sounds relatively benign compared to the things my imagination was brewing up. And an initial diagnosis of "at least a couple of days" is better than "Michael Taylor will definitely be here on Friday." Coco might be OK, and we know to budget in a month of missed time for him anyway since he plays so hard and gets banged up so much. Hopefully, this just means that Craig Gentry starts for a week and Coco comes back without a DL stint. Hopefully.
Now, the bad news, also from SuSlu:
Ryan Cook departed Wednesday's first game with two outs in the 10th inning after consecutive sliders to Seattle's Corey Hart gave Cook pain in his forearm.
"It really locked up," Cook said. "It was about as much as I could take."
Welp. I've been watching baseball long enough to know what it means when a pitcher leaves with tightness or pain in his forearm. DISCLAIMER: THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH IS MY SPECULATION AND NOT A REPORTED FACT. But Cook is totally going to need Tommy John surgery. I mean, c'mon. Name me one pitcher from memory who went down with a forearm problem and then didn't have TJS shortly thereafter. It always happens. There is tightness in the forearm masking a deeper underlying problem in the elbow, and then they find it. I might be wrong, but I doubt it. And even if the MRI (which he's having on Thursday) comes back optimistic, and Cook opts for rest, he'll still have TJS by the end of the season. Think all the way back to A.J. Griffin in April of '14 as an example of a guy who initially appeared hopeful, but then succumbed in the long-run.
I'm assuming that Cook is out for the season. At the very least, he's almost certainly going on the DL. And when he does, the A's will need a replacement. Arnold Leon doesn't make sense, because the A's can't afford to be pulling potential starters for bullpen duty. Nothing about Drew Pomeranz seems relevant; he pitched like a guy who belongs in the starting rotation in the second game on Wednesday, but even if he replaced Tommy Milone or Straily I don't think either of those guys would move to the pen (more likely to the Triple-A rotation as backup for the next injury to a starter). No, the obvious replacement is Fernando Rodriguez. His line in Triple-A so far this year, after returning from his own Tommy John operation:
Rodriguez, 2014: 11 games, 0.73 ERA, 12⅓ innings, 11 K's, 4 walks, no homers
He's a 30-year-old who has already struck out 136 batters in 123⅓ Major League innings, which is even more impressive because he pitched for the Astros so he never got to face them. He's the obvious next choice to fill in, and I expect that he'll be with the team by Friday. Losing Cook would be a big blow, but this is exactly the scenario that Billy Beane planned for. He knew that he'd lose a reliever somewhere along the way, so he made sure to have a few extras lying around the house. Now, he will use one of them. And just to finish on a happy note, the A's still have more reinforcements available in Evan Scribner (13 K's in 9⅔ innings in Sacramento), Joe Savery (14 K's in 11⅔ innings in Sacramento) and Eric O'Flaherty, who has started pitching after recovering from Tommy John and may join the team soon after his May 29 eligibility date.
Players got hurt. There are more good players to replace them, because Billy Beane is smart and he planned for this scenario rather than just hoping everything would work out. This is what depth is for, and this is why they go out of their way at all times to make sure they don't lose out-of-options players in roster shuffles. Everything is going to be fine.