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A’s spring injuries: Mike Fiers setback; Tony Kemp exits game; Trevor Rosenthal on mend

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Good news and bad news

Wild Card Round - Chicago White Sox v Oakland Athletics - Game Three
Fiers’ treatment includes regular doses of kindling
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s are nearing the halfway point of their Cactus League schedule, and they’re just now beginning to debut their MLB starting pitchers in games. However, we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see one of them.

Veteran right-hander Mike Fiers is delayed with a back issue, reports Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle. The initial details from Wednesday:

Mike Fiers had “a little thing going on with his back” and is “probably a little bit farther behind right now” working into games,” Bob Melvin said. Fiers has been pitching in sim games and felt this in his last bullpen session, Melvin said.

Fiers felt “a little better” on Thursday, per Athletics Farm. He wasn’t playing catch as of Friday but might begin doing so soon, per Rickey Blog on Twitter. However, there’s at least the possibility that he might not be ready when the season starts, which would be uncharacteristic for the usually reliably durable hurler.

In better rotation news, Frankie Montas is listed on MLB’s official site as the A’s starter for Sunday against the White Sox. He was held back from the beginning of camp due to a bout with coronavirus, but now he’s ready to go. Manager Bob Melvin, via Shayna Rubin of the Mercury News (or click here for full video):

“He was throwing 98 in the simulated game. With all the issues he had can affect his endurance. We didn’t see any effects in his last sim game. At this pace, he has a good chance to be in the rotation when the season starts.”

We’ve already seen Chris Bassitt and Jesús Luzardo make their spring debuts, and Sean Manaea is scheduled for Saturday before Montas on Sunday. Top prospect Daulton Jefferies, who’s pitching Friday, might be next in line if a fill-in is required to begin the season.

Kemp exits after HBP

The headline really says it all. Tony Kemp led off the game Thursday but was hit on the hip by the very first pitch, reports Kawahara. It tightened up enough for him to leave the game, and he’ll take Friday off, though Melvin is “hopeful he’ll be OK to play [Saturday].”

Kemp is a leading candidate for the starting 2B job this spring, and he’s 4-for-10 with three extra-base hits and a .625 OBP.

Rosenthal on mend

In our last injury update on Tuesday, the top story was a slight groin strain for new star closer Trevor Rosenthal. Fortunately, he’s already throwing again.

Per Rickey Blog: “BoMel said Rosenthal ‘looked good’ in yesterday’s bullpen session, will throw to hitters in a sim game on Sunday.”

Tom mid-month?

This isn’t exactly an update, but rather a reaffirmation of previous optimism. Outfielder Ka’ai Tom has missed the Cactus League so far with an oblique injury, and the hope has been that he can get into spring games by mid-month. That still appears to be the case, as Melvin says Tom’s target date is “right around” March 15, per Athletics Farm.

Playing time is especially important for Tom this spring, since as a Rule 5 draft pick he must be offered back to his old team (Cleveland) if he doesn’t make the A’s Opening Day roster. There’s a loophole if he hits the injured list, but presuming he’s back to health this month, he’ll have less time than expected to prove himself for an MLB job by April 1.

Tom is No. 15 on our Community Prospect List. His competition for a lefty outfield spot includes Seth Brown (No. 18) and Skye Bolt, among others. Bolt missed the first week of spring games due to his shoulder, but he’s now fully back in action and has played several times.

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That’s the end of the A’s injury update and we didn’t have to mention Jed Lowrie, who is currently healthy and playing in baseball games. In fact, he’s going to play in one today, at second base!