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Jake Smolinski needs surgery, Oakland A’s outfield competition narrows

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Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Oakland A’s outfielder Jake Smolinski will have shoulder surgery on Friday, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. Slusser goes on to mention that there is “no timetable for Smolinski’s return.”

Smolinski was competing for a role in Oakland’s thin outfield. The A’s have Khris and Rajai Davis holding down two full-time spots, but RF Matt Joyce will need a right-handed platoon partner to pair with, and Smolinski was a top candidate for that job due to his mammoth splits against lefty pitching (career 138 wRC+).

With Smolinski out of the picture, Mark Canha figures to be a lock now for that fourth-outfielder platoon position, while Slusser notes that minor league free agent signings Alejandro De Aza and Jaff Decker have a bead on any final fifth outfield spot that might be awarded.

Smolinski has played the last two seasons for the A’s, after arriving as a midseason waiver claim in 2015. Last year he struggled to a 78 wRC+ at the plate, though that’s largely because he was forced out of the comfort of his platoon niche into an everyday role he’s not as suited for — he still put up a 119 wRC+ against lefties, including 5 HR, 9 BB, and 10 Ks in 115 PAs.

In his writeup for CSN, Joe Stiglich noted that Smolinski’s shoulder “[hadn’t] responded well to a throwing program.”