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A’s injuries: Puk and Jefferies back in games, Luzardo to join them soon

The young pitchers are inching toward their returns

Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s have some serious pitching talent on the injured list right now. Their brightest young MLB star is on the shelf, along with their top two mound prospects, and each of them already had question marks surrounding their health histories.

Fortunately, the whole trio is making progress toward returning to action. In fact, two of them are already back in games, in the minors at least.

Left-hander A.J. Puk has made four rehab appearances for the Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators, as he recovers from a strained left biceps. The first outing came two weeks ago on May 11, and he went again May 14, then last Thursday, then last Saturday. In the first three games he went one inning apiece, striking out five of his 12 batters and once allowing a run. In his fourth game he didn’t complete his inning, getting knocked around for three runs on four hits and a walk.

The next step for Puk is yet to be determined, reports Shayna Rubin of the Mercury News.

Right-hander Daulton Jefferies is also back in games, and in fact he’s been activated from the Triple-A injured list entirely after missing the first couple weeks of Las Vegas’ season. He made his first start on Monday, with positive but curious results. Most important is that he went four full innings, and also nice was that they were all scoreless and he issued no walks. But he only struck out one batter, and he scattered seven hits along the way, getting some help from his defense with a pair of double plays and an outfield assist by Greg Deichmann at home plate.

Manager Bob Melvin said the following of Jefferies’ tough month of May, per insider Martin Gallegos:

“Just when it looked like he was hitting his stride and was on the verge of making the big league team, the injury bug popped up. Hopefully, he moves along pretty quickly and pitches well to make us have to make a tough decision.”

Jefferies made his MLB debut last summer, and looked great in the Cactus League this spring.

Rounding out the young pitching trio is Jesús Luzardo, on the injured list with a fractured pinky. The lefty threw 50 pitches on Sunday, per Rubin, and he’ll begin a rehab assignment in Triple-A on Thursday, adds Rubin. More details, per Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle:

Bob Melvin said the A’s could consider bringing Luzardo back in the bullpen “and maybe try to stretch him out that way. It allows us to get him back sooner than later.”

It also turns out that Luzardo has competition for the weirdest broken hand of the year. He hurt himself while playing a video game, but Cleveland Indians starter Zach Plesak just went on the 10-day injured list with a fractured thumb, with the following explanation via insider Mandy Bell: “[Manager Tito Francona] said Plesac was ‘rather aggressively ripping off his shirt’ and got it caught on a chair at his locker.”

One final A’s pitching note regards reliever J.B. Wendelken, who went on the IL three weeks ago with a strained left oblique. Kawahara reported last week that Wendelken had “started sock throws Tuesday [5/18], an early step in his recovery.”

Here’s the updated injury report.

  • RHP Trevor Rosenthal, 60-day IL, thoracic outlet surgery (July at least)
  • RHP Mike Fiers, 60-day IL, elbow (shut down 5/8; moved to 60-day 5/21)
  • RHP J.B. Wendelken, 10-day IL, oblique (began sock throws 5/18)
  • DH Mitch Moreland, 10-day IL, rib (no timetable yet)
  • LHP Jesús Luzardo, 10-day IL, finger (start AAA rehab 5/27)
  • LHP A.J. Puk, 10-day IL, biceps (on rehab in AAA)