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Oakland A's injury update: Josh Reddick returns Sunday, who gets sent down?

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Tyler Ladendorf is almost certainly headed to Nashville on Sunday, but why not Eric Sogard, some of you may ask?

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Before the start of the season, most indications were that the Athletics were going to activate Josh Reddick on Saturday from the oblique strain that held him out of much of spring training because the Mariners had a chance to skip left-hander J.A. Happ thanks their off day on Thursday. Now that Happ is pitching today and right-hander Felix Hernandez will start Sunday, the A's will wait to activate Josh Reddick until then, says MLB.com's Jane Lee.

In Lee's article Bob Melvin was curiously guarded about Reddick's role upon his return. Widely expected to be the everyday right fielder, some platooning may be in order, " 'In the past, he has played every day some, and sometimes he's been platooned,' said Melvin. 'We'll see what the roster dynamic looks like when he gets here.' "

Well let's look at the roster dynamic now. Tyler Ladendorf is expected to be sent down, Lee writes. If that's the case, however, a platoon doesn't really make much sense, because all you would be doing is turning one of your other RHP-only platoon players into an everyday player. I don't think any of us wants Stephen Vogt, Ike Davis, Sam Fuld, or Eric Sogard getting more playing time than Josh Reddick.

Everyday Reddick Platoon Reddick
vs. LHP vs. RHP vs. LHP vs. RHP
C Josh Phegley Stephen Vogt Josh Phegley Stephen Vogt
1B Mark Canha Ike Davis Mark Canha Ike Davis
2B Ben Zobrist Eric Sogard Ben Zobrist Eric Sogard
3B Brett Lawrie Brett Lawrie Brett Lawrie Brett Lawrie
SS Marcus Semien Marcus Semien Marcus Semien Marcus Semien
LF Cody Ross Ben Zobrist Cody Ross Ben Zobrist
CF Craig Gentry Sam Fuld Craig Gentry Sam Fuld
RF Josh Reddick Josh Reddick Sam Fuld Josh Reddick
DH Billy Butler Billy Butler Billy Butler Billy Butler
Bench
BN1 Stephen Vogt Josh Phegley Stephen Vogt Josh Phegley
BN2 Ike Davis Mark Canha Ike Davis Mark Canha
BN3 Sam Fuld Craig Gentry Josh Reddick Craig Gentry
BN4 Eric Sogard Cody Ross Eric Sogard Cody Ross

This setup creates a little bit of a problem if Bob Melvin wants to give a player in one of these "optimum" lineups a day off. Against lefties, you're basically looking at Josh Reddick vs. Sam Fuld. Against righties, you're looking at Mark Canha vs. Josh Reddick.

But what if the A's send down someone else?

Tyler Ladendorf has only six plate appearances, and he is 2-for-5 with a triple and a walk. His minor league performance on offense only makes him out to be a lefty masher, though he has shown to be quite adept all over the field on defense. If you keep Tyler Ladendorf, there's only one other candidate to send down right now, Eric Sogard.

First, what would those lineups look like?

Everyday Reddick Platoon Reddick
vs. LHP vs. RHP vs. LHP vs. RHP
C Josh Phegley Stephen Vogt Josh Phegley Stephen Vogt
1B Mark Canha Ike Davis Mark Canha Ike Davis
2B Ben Zobrist Ben Zobrist Tyler Ladendorf Ben Zobrist
3B Brett Lawrie Brett Lawrie Brett Lawrie Brett Lawrie
SS Marcus Semien Marcus Semien Marcus Semien Marcus Semien
LF Cody Ross Mark Canha Ben Zobrist Mark Canha
CF Craig Gentry Sam Fuld Craig Gentry Sam Fuld
RF Josh Reddick Josh Reddick Cody Ross Josh Reddick
DH Billy Butler Billy Butler Billy Butler Billy Butler
Bench
BN1 Stephen Vogt Josh Phegley Stephen Vogt Josh Phegley
BN2 Ike Davis Cody Ross Ike Davis Tyler Ladendorf
BN3 Sam Fuld Craig Gentry Sam Fuld Craig Gentry
BN4 Tyler Ladendorf Tyler Ladendorf Josh Reddick Cody Ross

Here, a Reddick platoon would mean Mark Canha becomes an everyday player.

How to decide

So that means the decision for who to demote on Sunday comes down to summing up the values of several factors, evaluating keeping Sogard and playing Reddick everyday against keeping Ladendorf and platooning Reddick:

Everyday Reddick, keep Sogard Platoon Reddick, keep Ladendorf
Pro: Reddick's defense vs. LHP ???: Mark Canha plays LF vs. RHP
Con: Reddick's bat vs. LHP ???: Tyler Ladendorf plays 2B vs. LHP
Pro: Ben Zobrist at 2B instead of LF vs. LHP Con: Ben Zobrist in LF instead of 2B vs. LHP
Pro: Cody Ross's arm in LF instead of RF vs. LHP Con: Cody Ross's arm in RF instead of LF
Pro: Mark Canha first bench option vs. RHP Con: Ladendorf/Gentry first bench options vs. RHP
Con: Sam Fuld first bench option vs. LHP Pro: Josh Reddick first bench option vs. LHP
Con: Eric Sogard's bat vs. RHP

I assume the A's are assigning run values to all of these factors. I'll just run through it narratively.

There are more right-handed starting pitchers than left-handed starting pitchers in baseball, and the A's are about to face six consecutive right-handed pitchers after Saturday's game. It's easier to plan around using only the optimal lineup against left-handers than it is to avoid giving players days off against right-handers.

Mark Canha appears to be Bob Melvin's hot-handed hitter of the week, getting two starts against right-handers over Craig Gentry. Having him as at least the first available bat off the bench against right-handers is my primary reason to hang on to Eric Sogard. Even if Canha jumps into the everyday role, I think I would still rather have Eric Sogard be the first bench bat over Craig Gentry against right-handed pitchers.

Your evaluation of these factors may vary, of course.