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Elephant Rumblings: Rotation picture still unsettled

MLB news roundup

MLB: Spring Training-Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Thursday, AN!

The rotation picture is changing on what seems like a daily basis. With the recent news that Drew Rucinski is dealing with an injury and is questionable for Opening Day, that opens up yet another spot in the rotation for one of the young guns.

With Shintaro Fujinami guaranteed a spot and James Kaprielian looking likely for the rotation, there would be three open slots available in Rucinski does indeed need a stint on the injured list. And there are four candidates for those spots.

Left handler Ken Waldichuk seems fairly certain to grab one of those rotation slots. He made his debut last year and while his stat line wasn’t the best when the season was over, he showed why the A’s made him a centerpiece of the Frankie Montas trade during some of his outings. He hasn’t had a great spring training but the organization is clearly very high on him and he is their top pitching prospect. That leaves two more spots.

Fellow lefties Kyle Muller and JP Sears could end up rounding out the rotation. Sears has made his debut and pitched decently well in 9 starts for the A’s last year, whereas Muller made three starts last year for the Atlanta Braves and got knocked around pretty hard. Like Waldichuk, both don’t have great spring training stats, but that might not matter as much to an A’s team in rebuilding mode; they’re going to give the young players on the team the chance to struggle, and work through those struggles.

And then there is Adam Oller. The only right of the four candidates, Oller has the most MLB experience of all the pitchers, though not exactly quality performances. That said, he’s had easily the best spring of all the starting candidates and could make manager Mark Kotsay’s decision hard if he keeps it up. There was some belief that Oller might not even make the roster when camp opened, but that seems like a forgone conclusion at this point. But has he done enough to secure a starting gig? If not, he’ll be in a long relief role out of the bullpen.

For what it’s worth, Oller has said that while he’d like to start, he is ready for any role the team wants him in:

“I knew going into this year (a swing role) was going to be a possibility,” said Oller. “I spoke to Kotsay and I told him straight up, ‘I don’t care.’ Obviously everyone wants to be a starter but at the end of the day I just want to be on the team and do what I can to help the team win.”

Opening Day is now only a week away and these decisions are going to be made soon. For what it’s worth, the injuries to Paul Blackburn and Rucinski don’t seem to be too serious and they’re return would knock two of those younger guys out of the rotation, anyway. And there’s talk that the team is planning to employ a six-man rotation at certain points this year, too. These guys will be performing against each other for the right to stay in the rotation when the team gets healthy. Hopefully they end up pushing each other to the best of their abilities. A’s fans are certainly hoping so.

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Dang. In another universe…

Tough news from what was once the 6th overall pick in the draft…

Just in case you missed it. A decent chance we’ll be seeing him in Oakland at some point this year, too.

Dallas speaking the truth: