The A’s dodged a .50 caliber bullet late Friday night, with their best player back in the lineup the next day following a nasty hit by pitch.
Catcher Stephen Vogt, who took a fastball to the right wrist Friday, will be Oakland’s designated hitter Saturday against the Kansas City Royals.
Manager Bob Melvin said:
“Talked to him earlier this morning, he’s good to go.”
It was that simple.
The heater from Royals reliever Franklin Morales was up and in, impossible to avoid, and brought back memories of batters from either side being thrown at in April.
Melvin and four players, including Vogt, said they didn’t think there was any malicious intent behind the pitch. Vogt was the strongest voice for Morales, who the catcher considers a teammate and friend after playing winter ball together.
“Today being a day game, (Vogt) is well served being a designated hitter.”
Melvin also confirmed that Vogt could catch or play first base if needed, but with a lefty heavy lineup against righthander Chris Young, it’d likely only happen if southpaw relievers Brandon Finnegan or Morales entered the game.
The potential all star has an American League leading 53 RBI, to go with a .304 batting average and 37 runs. So when he grimaced, bowed over, and limped slowly up the first base line, it didn’t take long for Melvin and trainer Nick Paparesta to jog to Vogt’s aide.
Vogt was removed immediately from the game, Melvin recalling the incident Saturday morning:
“At the time, it looked like it could be something significant. So we wanted to make sure we got him in, took a picture of it real quick, and got some ice on it. He’s a tough guy, if it’s not broken, there’s a good chance he’s going to be in today.”
In other injury news, rookie outfielder Billy Burns has been dealing with a hip flexor and the team is expecting him to start Sunday.
Speed being such a big part of his game, Melvin wants to be sure he’s able to move without a hitch.
Melvin went as far as to compare Burns to his former teammate, Brett Butler, who stole 553 bases in a prestigious 17 year career that included all star and world series appearances.
“There’s some comparisons there. Both played a similar outfield. Same position, fast, cover ground. Both of them lead off, and don’t necessarily have to hit a ball hard to get a hit.”
The only noted difference is that Burns is a switch hitter, increasing his versatility.
Burns is on pace to steal 32 bags this season, along with 68 runs scored in 104 games.
And on the comparison, to Butler, Melvin said:
“No doubt, I think he’d take that career.”
The A’s also have switch pitcher Pat Venditte recovering from a strained right shoulder, with the rehab going smoothly, according to Melvin.
Venditte played catch before Saturday’s game, and the next step being a bullpen session or two. Venditte is still “a ways away,” though, and may not return before the All Star break.
Oakland’s bullpen has been ravaged this season, with injuries taking their toll and several underwhelming performances helping to create a stressful season.
Sean Doolittle won’t be able to return until August at the earliest, and has pitched only one inning this season, striking out two and allowing one hit, after performing as baseball’s most dominant closer last season.
Doolittle was placed on the 15-day disabled list in late May, being transferred to the 60-day disabled list after the minimum time was reached in mid June. The transfer opened up a spot on the 40-man roster.
The A’s also have outfielder Coco Crisp on the 60-day disabled list, and with the way Burns has manned centerfield and the leadoff spot, might not return until September.