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A’s place A.J. Puk on injured list, call up Deolis Guerra

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The hits just keep on coming

Los Angeles Dodgers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The hits just keep coming for the 2021 Oakland A’s.

Athletics Nation hadn’t even finished celebrating the first win of the season after six straight losses before the next piece of bad news came in. The A’s placed top pitching prospect A.J. Puk on the 10-day injured list with a strained left biceps, the team announced.

To take his place, reliever Deolis Guerra was called up from the alternate site. Guerra wasn’t on the 40-man roster, so to clear space pitcher Trevor Rosenthal was transferred to the 60-day IL.

This is a tough blow for Puk, who already missed all of 2018 to Tommy John surgery and then all of 2020 to a shoulder injury that resulted in another operation. He was back to health this spring and made his regular season debut for Oakland on Monday, authoring perhaps his finest performance so far in his brief major league career with 3⅓ scoreless innings of relief against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

There’s not yet a timetable for Puk’s return. “Hopefully it’s not too long,” said manager Bob Melvin, via Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle.

In the meantime, Guerra comes up to help in the bullpen. The A’s signed the veteran right-hander over the winter as a minor league free agent, and as a non-roster invitee to spring training camp he was one of the last cuts after an impressive showing that included 6⅔ scoreless innings. His past experience includes a couple solid seasons with the Angels in 2016-17, as well as brief stints with the Pirates and the Brewers, and most recently the Phillies in 2020.

  • Guerra, career: 4.81 ERA, 103 ip, 83 Ks, 24 BB, 19 HR, 4.78 FIP, .321 xwOBA

More info on the reliever, who turns 32 this month, from our previous coverage:

While Guerra’s overall career line doesn’t jump off the page, with an 84 ERA+ and a lackluster FIP to match, there are a couple positives. His strikeouts are low but his walks are even lower, so his 3.5 K/BB rate is strong, and Statcast has him much closer to average than his traditional stats suggest.

In terms of stuff, he relies mostly on two pitches, in even measure. His four-seam fastball averages in the 91-92 mph range and tops out just over 93, and his changeup has nearly 10 miles of separation in velocity. He also mixes in a breaking ball now and then.

Guerra’s addition required a corresponding move on the 40-man, but Rosenthal’s status change isn’t news. The star closer hasn’t pitched yet this season and had already been considering thoracic outlet surgery, and indeed he underwent an operation on Thursday, per a team press release:

Rosenthal was diagnosed with severe neurovascular compression. The surgery, which was performed by Dr. Gregory Pearl at the Baylor Scott and White Heart and Vascular Hospital, involved the removal of his first rib, a pec minor release and scalene release. Rosenthal will remain in Dallas until Sunday and will return to Dr. Pearl for a check up in approximately eight weeks.

Here’s the updated 26-man roster. See below for the updated 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)

IL: Mike Fiers (R)

Relievers

Jake Diekman (L)
Yusmeiro Petit (R)
Sergio Romo (R)
Lou Trivino (R)
Adam Kolarek (L)
J.B. Wendelken (R)
Jordan Weems (R)
Deolis Guerra (R)

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

Sean Murphy (R)
Aramis Garcia (R)

Infielders

Matt Chapman (R)
Matt Olson (L)
Elvis Andrus (R)
Jed Lowrie (S)
Mitch Moreland (L)
Tony Kemp (L)

Outfielders

Mark Canha (R)
Ramon Laureano (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
Ka'ai Tom (L)
Seth Brown (L)

IL: Chad Pinder (R)

Injuries, with CF Ramon Laureano off the list and back in the lineup Tuesday, and 1B Matt Olson back in the lineup Thursday (as the DH) after missing two games:

  • RHP Trevor Rosenthal, 60-day IL, shoulder (thoracic outlet surgery)
  • UT Chad Pinder, 10-day IL, knee (no timetable)
  • LHP A.J. Puk, 10-day IL, biceps (no details yet)
  • RHP Burch Smith, 10-day IL, groin (no details yet)
  • LHP Reymin Guduan, 10-day IL, thumb (no details yet)
  • RHP Mike Fiers, 10-day IL, lumbar (threw an alt-site rehab outing)
  • 1B Matt Olson, day-to-day, knee (back in lineup Thursday as DH)