It’s the weekend, Athletics Nation!
After missing half a season’s worth of games between this year and last, Ramon Laureano’s PED suspension is nearly over. Barring any surprise Saturday game cancellation, Ramon will be reinstated for Sunday’s game. But what should we expect the laser-armed outfielder to do at the plate, and where will he be playing on the field?
We have two samplings to look at when it comes to Laureano’s bat: spring training, and his last week of rehab games in AAA Las Vegas. Ramon could play in spring as PED suspensions only effect in-season games, and he showed up for 21 plate appearances over 7 games. While there was some promise, Ramon slashed .167/.238/.222 with only two singles and a double.
It’s a small sample size to go off, but things aren’t too different in Las Vegas. Ramon has played 9 games with the Aviators as rehab starts to shake off the rust, and has slashed .118/.250/.147 over 40 plate appearances. Not super inspiring numbers, especially as the Las Vegas regulars have been putting on a show as of late. One notable figure is that Ramon has played over half of his non-DH games in right field and expectedly has a 1.000 fielding percentage with 11 putouts. Managing right field well may have a bit more suitability than ever for Ramon.
The biggest factor for Mark Kotsay come Sunday isn’t where to slot Laureano in the lineup, but where in the outfield he will end up. Cristian Pache has been the A’s everyday center fielder so far this season, showing off his range on a number of highlight catches (including covering over 100ft on a catch at the wall last night). Pache’s bat has been less than inspired lately, but it’s at par with Ramon in AAA which raises the question of who gets reign over center. Both outfielders have great defensive coverage, and while Laureano’s arm is the more sure-fire cannon, that doesn’t make him a lock for center.
My guess for the Sunday lineup is Pache in center batting 8th, and Laureano in right batting 7th. With Stephen Piscotty day-to-day with a leg cramp there is space without immediate displacement.
While I have seen some calls for Pache to drop down to AAA to work on his bat in a low-pressure environment, his skills are still an improvement over Billy McKinney who has survived a number of roster moves in the last few weeks. Pache also only has one option left, so sending him down now may not be the best strategic choice, even if the A’s aren’t anywhere close to the division race right now. The A’s will also need to make space for Laureano on the 40-man roster, which could end up costing McKinney his spot on the team.
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We’ll see Ramon on Sunday!
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All non-national games are free to stream this weekend, just for mom.