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A’s injuries: James Kaprielian likely to miss most of April

Pitcher will get late start due to shoulder irritation

MLB: Texas Rangers at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s will open the 2022 season without one of the arms expected to be in their rotation.

Pitcher James Kaprielian will miss the beginning of the season due to AC joint irritation in his shoulder, reports Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle and team insider Martin Gallegos.

News of Kaprielian’s shoulder issue began last week, causing him to get a late start to spring training. Now there’s a timetable for his hopeful return, per Kawahara:

James Kaprielian (shoulder irritation) is scheduled to throw off a mound Friday and would throw first live BP on April 5, so will not break camp with the A’s. Kaprielian said today he’s feeling good. A’s won’t rush building him up.

Gallegos adds more details:

James Kaprielian (AC joint irritation) will throw off a mound on March 25 and a live BP on April 5, with Minor League rehab likely to follow soon after. His return to the A’s likely won’t be until late April at the earliest.

Kaprielian has a long injury history, but he enjoyed good health last summer and turned in a strong rookie season, throwing nearly 120 innings. He did land on the injured list once in late-July due to a shoulder impingement, but he missed only one start before coming back to finish out the year.

The A’s rotation already figured to be a work in progress even before this update. All-Star Chris Bassitt was traded earlier this month, and fellow stars Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas are on the block too and could soon follow him out the door. That would leave Kaprielian and Cole Irvin as the lone returners, and now they’ll need a plan to fill in for Kaprielian for at least the first few weeks.

The next names on the rotation depth chart include new acquisition Brent Honeywell; top prospect Daulton Jefferies who made a few appearances last summer; organizational mainstay Paul Blackburn who made nine starts last year; minor league free agent signing Ryan Castellani; new prospect acquisitions Adam Oller (from Bassitt trade) and Zach Logue (from Chapman trade); and any other external additions (free agents, etc.) over the next couple weeks.

Analysis: You never know for sure with injuries, especially pitchers, especially shoulders, especially Kap’s shoulder. But the team is making this sound like a minor hiccup, and there is past precedent for being cautious with him, as the last time they said his shoulder was only a minor hiccup (last July) they were correct and he returned promptly. There’s no sense in speculating beyond that, so for now the only sure thing is that another rotation spot is open for April.

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In other A’s shoulder news, outfielder Stephen Piscotty “is in Los Angeles to see a doctor about his shoulder issue,” reported Gallegos Tuesday morning.