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Oakland A’s call up Chris Bassitt, option Nick Martini to Triple-A

Bassitt will start Saturday, for his first MLB appearance since 2016.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s called up pitcher Chris Bassitt on Saturday, the team announced. The right-hander will start the afternoon’s game against the Royals. To make room on the roster, outfielder Nick Martini was optioned to Triple-A Nashville.

The scheduled starter for Saturday was supposed to be Trevor Cahill, but he has a minor Achilles injury, reports insider Jane Lee. It’s not considered serious and the current hope is that he won’t need to hit the DL (via Lee), but at the very least he’ll skip this start in favor of a spot replacement.

This opportunity has been a long time coming for Bassitt. He was in the A’s rotation in 2016 but went down early with Tommy John surgery, and he then spent all of 2017 in the minors but wasn’t able to get back on track. By this spring he seemed to be a man without a place in the organization, and twice this season he’s received calls up to Oakland only to sit on the bench and eventually head back to Nashville without ever pitching.

Bassitt, 2018 AAA: 6.10 ERA, 38⅓ ip, 40 Ks, 14 BB, 2 HR, 3.96 FIP

Now the stars have finally aligned for the 29-year-old. He showed improvement in his last three Triple-A starts (15 ip, 18 Ks, 5 BB, 0 HR), and at the same time the A’s rotation has continued to suffer injuries at an astounding rate. With virtually no one else left to turn to on the depth chart*, Bassitt will get his long-awaited return to the big league mound. It will be his first MLB appearance since April 28, 2016.

* Next in line after Bassitt, presumably: veteran journeyman Edwin Jackson, recently signed to a minor league contract.

To make room on the roster, the odd man out was Martini. The outfielder came up to replace the injured Matt Joyce, who is out with a back injury. Martini made his MLB debut on Wednesday off the bench and then started the next two games after that, but overall he went 0-for-9 in his first big league action.

With Martini out of the picture for now and Joyce still on the DL, Oakland’s outfield includes Dustin Fowler, Stephen Piscotty, Chad Pinder, and Mark Canha, with Fowler serving as the only lefty. The bench is down to just two hitters for the moment while the pitching staff carries the emergency sixth starter. If the A’s need to bring up an outfielder before Martini and Joyce are eligible to return, then they still have Jake Smolinski on the 40-man — after his season-opening slump in the majors, he’s now smoking the ball in Triple-A to the tune of a 139 wRC+ and 7 HR in 20 games.

Welcome back to the Show, Chris!