The Oakland A’s were without one of their star hitters on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays, and the reason behind it is one for the all-time bizarre injury record books.
First baseman Matt Olson was scratched from the lineup yesterday after getting drilled by his own hit in the batting cage, reports Alex Coffey of The Athletic. He hit a ball straight back at the pitcher’s protective screen, and it ricocheted back and hit him in the eye, leading to swelling and “quite the shiner” but no fracture, adds Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle.
While it’s unclear how long Olson might need to sit out, reports indicate he’s highly unlikely to need a stint on the injured list. The lefty slugger has been one of the best hitters in MLB so far this season, so the A’s offense will need to step up to fill his shoes for a few days. On defense, they have the luxury of a spare Gold Glove first baseman in Mitch Moreland, who can slide out of the DH role to keep the defense top-notch at that position.
Update: Olson is still out Friday, but he’s doing better and the swelling is beginning to subside, and he has no concussion symptoms, reports Kawahara.
With the peace of mind that this luckily sounds like a minor injury, it really is an incredible one to consider. Olson hits the ball so hard that it hurts. His monster contact isn’t just a danger to the other team on the field, but to his own self, and it even turns protective equipment into a weapon. Next week he will hit a liner so hard that it travels around the entire planet and then beans him in the back of the head.
Live look at the trainers tending to Matt Olson:— Dallas Braden (@DALLASBRADEN209) April 29, 2021
I’ve spoken to Oly & he’s gonna be just fine. He ABSOLUTELY looks like he took a 90+ MPH rocket right off his eye but that’s one of the toughest SOB’s on the Diamond. Could’ve been a lot worse. pic.twitter.com/ufrIDAqZXx
In other position player injury news, Coffey offered this update Wednesday on super-sub Chad Pinder, who had been out since the first week of April due to a sprained left knee:
Melvin on how Pinder is progressing: “He’s doing well, he’s running now. Even though he feels great, it’s going to take time before he’s back with us. I think the timetable is still once we get back home, and maybe he goes to the alt site, but he feels good & that’s good for us.”
Update on Friday afternoon, per Kawahara:
Chad Pinder is doing baseball activities and Bob Melvin said the A’s could tentatively look to start a rehab assignment for Pinder around May 10, subject to change. “He told me today he feels great so hopefully we stay consistent with that.”
Here’s the updated injury report entering Friday.
- RHP Trevor Rosenthal, 60-day IL, thoracic outlet surgery (July at least)
- UT Chad Pinder, 10-day IL, knee (week-to-week, still a while)
- LHP A.J. Puk, 10-day IL, biceps (will begin throwing soon)
- RHP Burch Smith, 10-day IL, groin (began throwing a week ago)
- 1B Matt Olson, day-to-day, eye (won’t need IL stint)
RHP Mike Fiers, BACK IN ACTION, lumbar (STARTING TONIGHT 4/30)
There’s also an injury at the team’s alternate site, where pitching prospect Daulton Jefferies “will begin the season on the [Triple-A] Las Vegas injured list with a shoulder injury but is expected to return in a few weeks,” reports Melissa Lockard of The Athletic. Jefferies is on the 40-man roster and was in the running for an MLB rotation spot this spring, so any setback with him has an impact on Oakland’s immediate rotation depth chart.