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A’s activate Mike Fiers, option Adam Kolarek

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Fiers began the season on the injured list

2021 Oakland Athletics Photo Day Photo by Robert Beck/MLB Photos via Getty Images

We didn’t start the Fiers at the beginning of 2021, and we still might not, but at least he’s back in action.

The Oakland A’s reinstated pitcher Mike Fiers from the 10-day injured list on Monday, the team announced. To make room on the active roster, lefty reliever Adam Kolarek was optioned to the club’s alternate site.

The right-handed Fiers was re-signed as a free agent last winter, bringing him back for a fourth season in Oakland. However, early in spring training he battled hip inflammation and ended up sitting out the entire Cactus League, and he went on the IL before Opening Day with the diagnosis of a lumbar strain. During April he returned to the mound for multiple rehab outings at the alternate site, in their scrimmages against the Giants alt-site.

Entering the spring, Fiers was expected to be part of the A’s starting rotation, as he has been since mid-2018. But in his absence, lefty newcomer Cole Irvin has begun to settle into the fifth starter role with a couple of effective outings, meaning somebody will have to be squeezed out. For now it’s Fiers drawing the short straw, reports insider Martin Gallegos:

Scott Emerson said Fiers will sit in the bullpen for now and they’ll make a decision on him in the next couple of days.

That doesn’t sound like it precludes the possibility of Fiers returning to the rotation eventually, but it’s notable that he’s not immediately doing so by default. He is available out of the bullpen tonight, adds Shayna Rubin of the Mercury News.

Update (3 p.m.), per Gallegos: “Bob Melvin said Mike Fiers will be in the bullpen to provide length right now. They’ll try to keep him stretched out, but Cole Irvin remains in the rotation and they want to keep it a five-man rotation.”

  • Fiers, OAK 2018-20: 4.00 ERA, 296⅔ ip, 215 Ks, 80 BB, 51 HR, 4.96 FIP

Leaving aside this latest brief injury, Fiers has been a reliable workhorse for the A’s in recent years. He anchored the 2019 rotation with a string of quality starts that lasted most of the season, and also tossed his second career no-hitter. In 2020 he threw the second-most innings on the club, which was especially helpful during a weird year in which rotation workloads were often curtailed.

Meanwhile, someone had to go down to make room on the roster, and it’s Kolarek. The southpaw is not having the year anyone hoped after his acquisition last winter, but he’s also received some awful luck along the way. He’s pitched eight games, and in two of them he got the perfect inning-ending grounder he needed directly at a glove-first infielder, once Matt Chapman and once Elvis Andrus, only to see it bricked for an error each time; on another occasion he was foiled by an extreme defensive shift.

  • Kolarek, 2021: 8.44 ERA, 5⅓ ip, 3 Ks, 2 BB, 2 HR, 8.53 FIP

He has options to spare, so for now he stashes at the alt-site and/or minors with other 40-man roster relievers including Jordan Weems and Miguel Romero. The only other optionable reliever in the current MLB bullpen is closer Lou Trivino, so sending down Kolarek was the only choice that didn’t involve losing somebody from the organization.

Here’s the updated 26-man roster. See below for the latest injury report.

Oakland A's 26-man roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Chris Bassitt (R)
Jesús Luzardo (L)
Sean Manaea (L)
Frankie Montas (R)
Cole Irvin (L)

Relievers

Lou Trivino (R)
Jake Diekman (L)
Yusmeiro Petit (R)
Sergio Romo (R)
J.B. Wendelken (R)
Deolis Guerra (R)
Reymin Guduan (L)
Mike Fiers (R)

IL: A.J. Puk (L)
IL: Burch Smith (R)
60-IL: Trevor Rosenthal (R)
Catchers

Sean Murphy (R)
Aramis Garcia (R)

Infielders

1B: Matt Olson (L)
2B: Jed Lowrie (S)
SS: Elvis Andrus (R)
3B: Matt Chapman (R)
DH: Mitch Moreland (L)
UT: Tony Kemp (L)
UT: Vimael Machin (L)

Outfielders

Mark Canha (R)
Ramon Laureano (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
Seth Brown (L)

IL: Chad Pinder (R)

Here’s the updated injury report entering Monday.