When Chris Bassitt was hit in the head by a line drive earlier this month, the only priority moving forward became his health, and the idea of him playing baseball again this year was unthinkable. Not even two weeks later, he already sounds determined to get back on the mound.
“He has himself back in a game in a couple of weeks. That’s not going to be the case,” said manager Bob Melvin on Thursday, via insider Martin Gallegos. “We just, more than anything, want him to be a hundred percent healthy. We’ll go from there on whether or not he pitches again this year.”
Bassitt had facial surgery on Tuesday, and he still won’t resume baseball activity for another week or so. While his eagerness to return right away after that milestone isn’t realistic, the typical timeline for recovery does leave a slim window of possibility at the end of the regular season, and it’s notable that the team hasn’t yet ruled out the concept.
On Saturday, Bassitt returned to the Coliseum and visited his teammates, wearing a swollen right eye and his usual positive attitude.
“The doctors made a mistake in telling me I was going to be OK in a couple weeks. When they said that, I said OK, we’re rocking,” said Bassitt via Shayna Rubin of the Mercury News.
Bassitt spoke about how lucky he was to avoid an even more serious injury.
Chris Bassitt, back at the yard pic.twitter.com/H6X5aUQE1P— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) August 28, 2021
He said he doesn’t remember getting hit by the ball, and hasn’t watched the replay, and that’s helped him avoid any potential mental block or fear of returning to pitching.
“I know I’m a little bit of a messed up individual but I don’t have any concern about getting back on the mound,” said Bassitt.
"There's probably a five-second spot in there where I don't remember anything. Honestly, I think it's a gift from God because I don't want to remember it."— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 28, 2021
Chris Bassitt says he does not remember getting hit by the comebacker on August 17th pic.twitter.com/bIGNtDouA6
For now, he’s excited just to be back with his teammates.
Chris Bassitt made his return to the Oakland Coliseum just four days after having facial surgery.— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 28, 2021
"I obviously need to be here, not only for the guys on the team but for me too." pic.twitter.com/LHjpWNyLhV
After the game, Melvin talked about how much it meant to have Bassitt in the clubhouse. Oakland beat the Yankees 3-2 to snap a six-game losing streak.
Bob Melvin discussed the impact Chris Bassitt's return had on the team pic.twitter.com/Zmfqvnr9Wd— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) August 28, 2021
Fellow starter Frankie Montas, who tossed seven scoreless innings in Saturday’s victory, spoke about the value of Bassitt’s presence, via Gallegos:
“I look up to him. He’s a hard worker. He’s a dude I always talk to, about anything. After the second, I asked him to watch my sequence and see what I’m doing. He’s really smart. His success is not because of luck. He knows what he’s doing out there.”
Will Bassitt pitch again in 2021? That remains to be seen, and it’s still a secondary consideration after the rest of his recovery. But it’s amazingly not impossible, and he seems focused on making it happen.