The Oakland A's made an expected roster move on Wednesday, activating starting pitcher Sean Manaea from the disabled list. To make room on the 25-man roster, utilityman Arismendy Alcantara was optioned back to Triple-A Nashville.
Manaea left his start on June 13 with a "left pronator muscle strain," which is a fancy way of saying he pulled a muscle in the forearm he uses to pitch. It's also an injury that is often a precursor to a torn UCL and Tommy John surgery, but everyone involved dodged a bullet when his MRI revealed no ligament damage. Instead of a catastrophic injury, Manaea ended up with a minimum DL stint capped off by a routine rehab outing in the minors on Friday. Whew! He will start against the Giants on Wednesday, setting up a battle of players nicknamed "Baby Giraffe" when he faces Brandon Belt.
Of course, now that Manaea is healthy again it would be nice if he could start actually pitching well. He owns an awful 6.02 ERA through his first nine MLB games, and only three of those outings registered as quality starts. But his career is still in its infancy and he was probably rushed through Triple-A a bit quickly earlier this season, and the 24-year-old still has huge upside thanks to his dynamic stuff. It will be exciting to see him resume his development and (hopefully) work his way up toward the top of Oakland's rotation. His numbers:
Manaea, 2016: 9 starts, 6.02 ERA, 49⅓ ip, 40 Ks, 16 BB, 8 HR
Manaea's scheduled return was already well-known before today, but the corresponding move came as a surprise. The A's have eight relievers in their bullpen at the moment, and the eighth man (Zach Neal) pitched each of the last two days (though only 22 total pitches). It would have made sense to send him down, but instead the A's chose to keep the depth in their pen and option Alcantara instead.
The reason that's a surprising move is that Alcantara is the only backup middle infielder on the team. Without him, Jed Lowrie and Marcus Semien will have to play every inning at 2B and SS, respectively, and if one of them has to leave a game then someone else will have to be awkwardly shoehorned in -- I suppose Danny Valencia and Yonder Alonso would be the least awful options? The bullpen has been taxed heavily, though, so it's a matter of picking your poison: a thin pen in which not everyone is available today, or a thin infield.
Alcantara has made it into three games since joining the A's. The switch-hitter has gone 2-for-8 with four strikeouts and two stolen bases in three attempts. He played 2B and RF in those games, but he's played many other positions in his pro career. He made a nice play at 2B on Sunday:
We will surely see the 24-year-old Alcantara again as the year goes on and new needs arise.
The A's also welcomed Josh Reddick back to the lineup on Tuesday, so with Manaea back their disabled list is getting shorter by the day. The next player to come back should be pitcher Rich Hill, who is expected to return on Saturday to start against the Pirates. Hill had a successful minor league rehab start on Monday.
In other injury news, Sean Doolittle is a bit banged up.
Doolittle not sure if he is available tonight but will find out in a few minutes when he goes out to play catch.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) June 29, 2016
Doolittle says it wasn't just Sat. game that had shoulder barking, it was workload of entire week including two nights getting hot/not used.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) June 29, 2016
Shoulder soreness is not in same area Doolittle had trouble last summer— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) June 29, 2016
More on Doo when updates become available.
* * *
UPDATE: One more bit of minor injury news for Wednesday. Khris Davis will sit this one out:
The A's say Davis was scratched with a left shoulder contusion.— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) June 30, 2016