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Oakland A’s injury updates: Chris Herrmann begins rehab, Nick Hundley has knee surgery

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Plus updates on Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton, and more!

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s signed Chris Herrmann last winter to be their starting catcher, but he had knee surgery before the season began. Now he’s back on the field, having begun a minor league rehab assignment last Thursday.

Herrmann has played five games for Triple-A Las Vegas so far, and the results have looked excellent in the box scores. The left-handed hitter took an 0-fer in his first game but registered hits in each of the next four.

Herrmann, AAA rehab: 6-for-18, 1.131 OPS, 2 HR, 1 double, 3 BB, 7 Ks

While Herrmann has been out, Josh Phegley has taken the role of primary starter and enjoyed a breakout season. Phegley has already tied his career-high with nine homers, and shares the team RBI lead with Khris Davis (41), all with a 115 wRC+ for his above-average batting line. Meanwhile, Beau Taylor has taken over as the backup in the absence of Nick Hundley (more on him in a moment), and Taylor has already made himself useful with the bat in his first few games.

The fact remains, though, that Hermmann is out of options. He’s allowed to spend up to 20 days on a minor league rehab stint (began June 13), and then at that point in early July he’ll have to come up or else be put through waivers.

Analysis: Presumably they won’t just waive him, so that means we’ll see Herrmann in Oakland sometime in the next couple weeks. Many on Athletics Nation pegged him as a breakout candidate entering the year, so it will be interesting to see what effect he has on the lineup, especially as a lefty to pair with the righty Phegley. Fellow lefty Taylor will surely be the odd man out when the time comes, but for now he’s shown that there’s an MLB-capable backup available in Triple-A when needed.

Hundley has surgery

On Tuesday, the A’s offered the following update on catcher Nick Hundley, who’s been on the injured list since June 8 due to back spasms:

Hundley had successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee today with Dr. Jon Dickinson at Presidio Surgical Center in San Francisco. Dr. Dickinson performed a medial meniscectomy procedure on his left knee to clean up a tear within the medial meniscus.

Hundley was having symptomatic issues with his knee for the past two months with no limitations to his playing capacity, and the current injury to his lumbar spine gave the club an opportunity to address the knee issue, which would allow him to recover from both injuries simultaneously.

Nick is resting comfortably and will return to the club tomorrow to begin his rehab work on his knee and continue his rehab work on his lumbar spine. There is no timetable to share with either injury at this time until he is back to baseball activities.

The timetable is six weeks before Hundley starts playing again, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle.

Analysis: It’s even more possible now that we’ve seen the last of Hundley in green and gold. He was already off to a poor start this season, and now he’s out until at least early August. With Phegley’s breakout, Herrmann’s return imminent, Taylor showing flashes of proving himself, and injured top prospect Sean Murphy on the mend well ahead of Hundley, will there even be a place for the 35-year-old veteran when he’s ready to go?

Starting pitchers

Good news on a few starting pitchers:

  • Sean Manaea had shoulder surgery last September, but he’s making serious strides in his recovery. The left-hander will throw 60 pitches in a simulated game on Thursday, reports Ben Ross of NBCS, and “if all goes well, he’ll go out on a rehab assignment after that.” Manaea previously threw a 45-pitch sim game last Saturday.
  • Jharel Cotton “threw a flat ground session [Wednesday], good sign after hamstring surgery that he could be back sooner than later,” reports Slusser, though she notes he won’t be able to get on the mound until his leg is fully healthy. The right-hander was on his way back (to the bullpen for now) from Tommy John surgery when he was set back by hamstring surgery two weeks ago.
  • Marco Estrada “threw a flat ground session for the first time [Tuesday] as he progresses from a back injury,” reports insider Martin Gallegos. The right-hander has been out since mid-April with a lumbar sprain in his back.
  • Top prospect Jesus Luzardo has thrown two excellent games since returning from a shoulder injury, but he’s still got more to prove before he makes his MLB debut. Via Gallegos on Wednesday: “Melvin said how quickly Jesus Luzardo gets to Oakland will depend on performance at AAA, where he had some trouble last year as he neared innings limit: ‘He’s gonna have to have results. If the results are there, we’ll look to bring him up. I’m not gonna put a timetable on it.’”

Analysis: The news on Manaea is particularly encouraging, because when he got hurt last fall there was no guarantee he’d pitch this year. Now, barring any further setbacks, it’s theoretically possible the A’s could add Luzardo to their rotation in July, and Manaea in August.

Best of luck to all the injured A’s in their recoveries!