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A’s activate Jesús Luzardo from injured list, in bullpen for now

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Lefty starter will go to bullpen for now

Baltimore Orioles v Oakland Athletics Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s bullpen was down to one left-hander on Friday, but a second southpaw has now rejoined the ranks, and not one we were expecting to be there when the season began.

The A’s activated Jesús Luzardo from the 10-day injured list Sunday morning, the team announced. The lefty has been out since May 2, one day after fracturing his pinky in a freak accident while playing a video game. He tried pitching a game with the injury but was clearly affected, and the next morning he went on the IL.

Normally Luzardo is a starter, but for now he’ll pitch out of the bullpen, reports insider Martin Gallegos. That follows the plan previously suggested by manager Bob Melvin last week, as a way to get Luzardo back to the majors faster. He only made one rehab appearance in the minors, facing five batters in Triple-A on Thursday, but “got what he needed out of his one rehab start and his stuff was operating like he wanted,” per insider Justice delos Santos.

More details, per Gallegos:

Melvin says they’ll “play it by ear” as far as Luzardo’s role for long term this year. They’ll try to build his pitch count up if possible while using him in relief.

Luzardo himself is up for whatever challenge comes his way, and the 23-year-old offered a characteristically mature response to a change in roles.

More, from Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle:

“Whatever the team needs. They tell me when to pitch and I’ll pitch. I don’t care if it’s starting, if it’s relieving, it doesn’t really matter to me. As long as I can help the team win in some type of way I’m here to do it.”

In order to make room on the roster for Luzardo’s return, reliever Jordan Weems was optioned back to Triple-A. The right-hander was recalled Friday but didn’t get a chance to pitch while he was here, and now two days later he heads back to the minors. He’s made five appearances for the A’s this season, split between two previous stints in the majors.

The switch from Weems to Luzardo means Oakland’s bullpen has two lefties again, along with co-closer Jake Diekman. They had been down to just one due to a recent injury to Reymin Guduan, as well as the demotion of the struggling Adam Kolarek, and also an injury to top prospect A.J. Puk — though Puk is now off the IL and getting tuned up in Triple-A.

But regardless of handedness, Luzardo could be an impactful addition to the pen. His numbers were shaky in six starts this season before his injury, but the budding star carries a fearsome arsenal of pitches and has successful MLB relief experience on his past track record.

Luzardo, 2021: 5.79 ERA, 28 ip, 30 Ks, 12 BB, 5 HR, 33 hits, 4.59 FIP, .306 xwOBA

Here’s the updated roster and injury report.

Oakland A's 26-man roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Chris Bassitt (R)
Sean Manaea (L)
Frankie Montas (R)
Cole Irvin (L)
James Kaprielian (R)

60-IL: Mike Fiers (R)

Relievers

Lou Trivino (R)
Jake Diekman (L)
Yusmeiro Petit (R)
Sergio Romo (R)
Burch Smith (R)
Cam Bedrosian (R)
Deolis Guerra (R)
Jesús Luzardo (L)

IL: Reymin Guduan (L)
IL: J.B. Wendelken (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: Chad Pinder (R)

Outfielders

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

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)
  • LHP Reymin Guduan, 10-day IL, groin (no details yet)
  • OF Ramon Laureano, day-to-day, groin (out of lineup since 5/28)
  • LHP Jesús Luzardo, BACK IN ACTION, finger (activated 5/30, in bullpen)