Spring training officially began Wednesday for the Oakland A’s, with pitchers and catchers holding their first workout. However, two notable players were missing, leading us to another official beginning: the annual spring injury updates.
The first setback is one you’d expect this year during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as starting pitcher Frankie Montas is out due to COVID-19, reports insider Martin Gallegos. The team is “hopeful to get him in camp in the next couple of days,” adds Gallegos.
The other injury is something a little different. Starting catcher Sean Murphy had surgery for a collapsed lung “at least a couple weeks ago,” reports Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle. That’s not one we often hear about in baseball, but rather a “freak thing” that just came out of nowhere one day, explains general manager David Forst via Gallegos.
As for Murphy’s future prognosis, the A’s “expect him to be ready for opening day ... [and he] might be able to join them halfway through spring training,” reports Alex Coffey of The Athletic. He “was advised not to fly for four weeks,” adds Gallegos.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an A’s spring injury update without checking in on top pitching prospect A.J. Puk, who missed 2018 to Tommy John surgery and 2020 to shoulder surgery but is still No. 1 on our Community Prospect List. The fireballing lefty “impressed in his first session today,” per Gallegos, who added the following quote from manager Bob Melvin:
“I think surgery really did a lot for [Puk]. He just looked free and easy. He told me that he feels great. He’s in great shape. The ball had a lot of life. He looked really good.”
As for Puk’s role in 2021, that’s yet to be determined. The A’s will “build him up as a starter” during the spring, but they haven’t yet decided whether he’ll pitch out of the rotation or the bullpen this season, per Kawahara. Oakland has “not discussed a six-man rotation at this point,” says Forst via Gallegos.