With the week’s additions of Josh Phegley, Josh Reddick and now Sonny Gray, the A’s disabled list now features a robust total of 13 names. For the most part, Oakland (19-25) has been able to remain competitive despite the mounting injured, but the most recent expansions will certainly make doing so much tougher.
The latest DL-related move came Sunday morning when Gray (3-5, 6.19 ERA) was sent to the 15-day, replaced by lefty reliever Daniel Coulombe (0-0, 13.50 ERA).
Looking for any optimism he can find, manager Bob Melvin is clinging to the fact that home run and RBI (12,29) leader Khris Davis will avoid a DL stint. Not only is “Khrush” available to hit in the series finale with the Yankees, Melvin expects him to be in the lineup as the designated hitter, Monday in Seattle.
The manager said that Davis’ removal was mostly precautionary:
“I was probably a little cautious with it. I didn’t want to see somebody else have an issues, and have to go on the DL.”
Melvin said he is also looking forward to the return of Jed Lowrie. The Seattle trip will also bring the welcome return of early-season top run producer Lowrie (.302/.341/.345 slash).
Lowrie, who has fielded groundballs and run bases prior to each game against the Yankees, is due to return from the DL on Wednesday, in time for Emerald City finale. Melvin said that the second baseman will likely be stuck directly into the three-spot vacated by Reddick.
Of the rash of injuries Melvin says is worse than he’s ever experienced, the skipper said:
“It’s something you have to deal with — you know you’re going to deal with DLs and injuries over the course of the season. In the middle of May, having 13 is probably pretty severe, but there’s not much we can do about it. Just give somebody else an opportunity. Hopefully, on this trip, we’ll look to get guys off the DL. That will be a nice change for us.”
A’s ace Gray had been in the midst of his worst slump as a major leaguer. In allowing 29 runs (25 earned) in 21-1/3 innings over his last five starts, Gray saw his ERA balloon by nearly three-and-a-half runs. He was hit with four losses over the stretch.
The skipper said a strained right trapezius — the muscle connecting the shoulder to the neck — may have had a hand in the struggles:
“I think is has affected him, at least the couple of times out. I don’t think it has really affected his velocity, but it’s affected the command — it’s like you’re pitching with a rock in the bottom of your neck and it was affecting his extension some.”
Melvin added that there have not yet been discussions regarding a possible replacement for the three-plus starts the righty will miss.
Considering just the starters on the current 40-man roster, the options are limited to Eric Surkamp (0-3, 6.55 ERA in five 2016 major-league starts), Raul Alcantara (4-2, 3.69 ERA in starts with Double-A Midland) or Zach Neal (5-1, 2.53 ERA in seven starts with Triple-A Nashville).
The Gray injury announcement comes just two days after Gold Glove winning right fielder and three-hole hitter Reddick fractured his left thumb. The A’s will miss Reddick’s .322 batting average, five home runs and 18 RBIs for at least one month.
Still unsure if it is good news or bad, starter Henderson Alvarez’s (career 27-34, 3.80 ERA) has had his return from surgery put in a holding pattern. After experiencing discomfort in his surgically repaired right shoulder, the right-hander’s throwing has been ceased entirely.
Seeking a second opinion, after no physical problems were discovered, Melvin said of the starter:
“Once we get confirmation on what Dr. (James) Andrews thinks — I think that conversation probably comes up (Monday) — then we’ll have a better idea of what we’ll do. He’s not going to throw until he’s cleared to throw, and right now he’s just doing some strengthening stuff.”
Given their unconscionable injury totals, the A’s have battle on. That battle will now be much tougher.