The Oakland A’s got some positive injury news this weekend, as outfielder Matt Joyce will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday, reports Alex Hall of the S.F. Examiner.
It’s been a lost season for Joyce. He was one of the team’s better hitters in 2017, with a 116 wRC+ and 25 homers, but he hasn’t maintained that production this summer. He started slowly at the plate before a strained back landed him on the disabled list in early June, and then again in early July. In 63 games he batted .203 with an 87 wRC+ and only seven homers, though it’s possible the injury was affecting him before he officially went on the shelf.
Just because Joyce is getting back on the field, though, it doesn’t mean we need to start planning for an imminent roster move. On Friday, manager Bob Melvin noted that the team is taking it slowly with the 34-year-old’s recovery since he’s already experienced several setbacks along the way. The hope is to get him back in September, and of course by that point rosters will have expanded to make room for everybody and the only question will be who appears in the lineup each day. To that point, Melvin had the following to say:
“We use everybody, so I don’t know that we rely on one or two guys or want the pressure of (Nick Martini) to think that if he doesn’t do well for a game or two then someone’s going to take his spot. I don’t think these guys think this way. They know that everybody is used here and everybody embraces that. So he doesn’t put any added pressure on himself.”
In Joyce’s absence, left field has been covered by the likes of Nick Martini, Chad Pinder, and Mark Canha, with Canha and Ramon Laureano splitting time in center and Stephen Piscotty manning right. Martini is the only lefty in that group, so a return from Joyce could help balance out the long list of righty bats. Oakland also has lefties Dustin Fowler and Boog Powell in Triple-A, after Powell’s recent return from his own long-term DL stint (knee).
As for the pitching staff, Melvin mentioned on Friday that starters Andrew Triggs and Paul Blackburn have resumed throwing, reports Hall. Triggs is doing so off of a mound.
Summary of MLB disabled list (plus Graveman):
- Joyce: starts rehab assignment Tuesday (AAA)
- Triggs: throwing off mound
- Blackburn: resumed throwing
- Smolinski: likely out for season (blood clot)
- Cotton: out for season
- Graveman: out for season, and likely 2019
- Gossett: out for season, and likely 2019
Best of luck to all the injured A’s in their recoveries!