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Oakland A’s place Mark Canha on injured list, recall Ryan Buchter

Looks like a 9-man bullpen for now.

Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s placed 1B/OF Mark Canha on the 10-day injured list, the team announced Monday. To take his place on the roster, reliever Ryan Buchter was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.

The diagnosis for Canha is a sprained right wrist. He exited Sunday’s game in the 8th inning due to the injury. The wrist “had been bothering him for a couple days,” reports Julian McWilliams of The Athletic.

Canha, 2019: 8-for-40, 113 wRC+, 2 HR, 11 BB, 13 Ks

The right-handed hitter is off to a promising start this season, at least in what little playing time he’s been able to find. He’s walking like crazy (.377 OBP) and has already drilled a couple homers, but the most important number in his line is the mere 53 plate appearances through 30 team games.

Canha has mostly seen time at 1B in a tandem with switch-hitter Kendrys Morales, while everyday star Matt Olson is on the IL. Canha has only gotten four starts in the crowded outfield so far, after starting 89 games there last year and just nine at 1B.

With Canha out of action, and a pitcher replacing him, the A’s will feature a two-man bench for now. That bench will include whichever catcher doesn’t start, and one more position player. Meanwhile, there will be a nine-man bullpen.

Re-joining that pen is Buchter. The lefty was sent down a week ago, after a rocky beginning to his season. While in Vegas he got into one game, on Friday, and needed just seven pitches to throw a perfect inning.

Buchter, 2019 MLB: 7.04 ERA, 7⅔ ip, 12 Ks, 7 BB, 1 HR, 12 hits, 4.79 FIP

With the return of Buchter, the A’s once again have a lefty in their pen, to go along with their eight right-handers: Treinen, Trivino, Soria, Wendelken, Petit, Rodney, Hendriks, Dull.

Hot takes

Not what I was expecting, but I can see some reasons for calling on a pitcher here.

The A’s just got a pair of seven-innings starts from their rotation in Toronto, and only Wendelken had to pitch twice in the series. The bullpen got some work but it didn’t get taxed or anything. However, setup man Lou Trivino has missed more than a week now after jamming his thumb, and we haven’t yet heard that he’s definitely ready for Monday’s opener in Boston, so perhaps the extra arm is insurance for that.

As for Vegas’ many hot position players, I don’t mind bypassing them for now. There are some top prospects off to nice starts, but I can wait for them to play more than three weeks before jumping at the small samples. Remember that they’ve moved to a likely way more hitter-friendly park than they had in Nashville, and they’re using more explosive MLB balls now, so we still need time to readjust our perception of the A’s Triple-A hitting environment so we can figure out how many grains of salt to add to all these homers they’re hitting.

What’s more, the eventual replacement for Canha might just be Olson himself. The Gold Glover is hopefully heading on a rehab assignment on Tuesday, and could feasibly be back in action before Canha is even eligible to return.

So, here’s one theory as to how it could all shake out:

  • An extra ninth arm in the bullpen while in Boston, until we know Trivino is back for sure
  • Then a series in an NL park in Pittsburgh, where you might also want the extra reliever, and where the loss of the DH gives you a third man on the bench anyway
  • Then by the time they get back home next Tuesday, maybe Olson is ready?

The one thing I can’t figure out is why the A’s dumped Jerry Blevins yesterday. If they had space for a ninth reliever and wanted a lefty, then Blevins had easily earned his chance with a nice showing in Triple-A. He would have required a 40-man roster move, but surely there are already some DFA candidates who seem like they could sneak through waivers without being lost. Oakland’s depth chart is direly thin on southpaws, and it’s odd to me that they cut a promising and experienced one right before bringing up a struggling one. Did Buchter really already fix whatever he needed to work on, after one week and one minor league game?

Other injury news

Starter Marco Estrada, out with a lumbar strain in his back, still has no timetable for return. He had a non-surgical, minimally invasive procedure last week as part of his treatment, called radiofrequency ablation, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. The procedure doesn’t require extra recovery so it shouldn’t add to his timetable at all.

Meanwhile, this doesn’t really count as news, but seems worth mentioning. I talked to starter Daniel Gossett in the clubhouse last week, and he didn’t sound like he expects to get back to MLB in time for this season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. His timetable could have him back in minor league games before year’s end, but for now don’t expect to see him in green and gold before 2020.