A’s shut down Alvarez after more shoulder pain

For the second time in a month, Henderson Alvarez has had his rehab brought to a halt by shoulder pain.

When the Oakland Athletics signed the starting pitcher last December, they expected the former-Miami Marlin hurler to miss the first month of the season, but solidify himself in the rotation by the All-Star Break. Now being forced to endure a second stoppage in his rehabilitation, it seems more likely that the 26 year-old will not appear on the Oakland mound until September — if ever.

A’s Manager Bob Melvin said that the injury is especially disheartening, considering how visibly excited the right-hander had been about his pending return:

“He loves to pitch. He loves to play. You can see that in him, whether he’s throwing a bullpen or whatever he’s doing. He was looking so forward to coming back, and helping this team. It’s pretty demoralizing. I know he’s having a tough time with it right now.”

After three innings — 49 pitches — of a minor-league rehab start for Triple-A Nashville on June 18, Alvarez (27-34 career record, 3.80 ERA) experienced discomfort in his throwing shoulder while warming up for the fourth. The Venezuela native underwent surgery in the shoulder on June 28, 2015, urging the Marlins to decline a contract tendering.

As for what comes next for the 2014 National League All-Star, a somber Melvin said simply:

“Where we go from here, I’m not sure yet.”

The starting staff got some good news, as well.

Both Rich Hill (8-3 2016 record, 2.25 ERA) — strained groin — and Sean Manaea (2-4, 6.02 ERA) — strained pronantor teres (forearm) — continued to move closer returns, with bullpen sessions on Sunday.

Manaea, who told SFBay that his forearm is “much looser” than when the injury forced his removal from a June 13 14-5 win over the Texas Rangers, threw his second bullpen session of the week on Wednesday. The skipper expects the rookie lefty to be sent out for a rehab stint next week.

Although Manaea is closer than Hill, according to Melvin, the veteran lefty has also progressed into the latter stages of his own return:

Rich Hill threw a 30-pitch bullpen session (Sunday), it went very well. He will throw three innings, 45 pitches, in a simulated-type situation, in the bullpen, with some hitters standing in.”

Along with the pending returns of the two starters, the pitching staff enjoyed the long-awaited return of reliever Liam Hendriks (0-0, 7.36 ERA). The first-year Athletic tossed two perfect inning of relief, on Sunday, striking out two.

Filling the chameleon role of the most taxed bullpen in in the American League (243 innings pitched) Hendriks’ return is a significant relief for the manager, who said that injuries may have had a hand in his rough start:

“He’s a guy that we signed in the offseason for a reason. He got off to a little bit of a tough start, whether or not the arm issues were a part of that we feel like he’s 100-percent healthy right now.”

The major league’s No. 26 scoring offense (269 runs — 3.9 per game) is also nearing a lift.

With an 0-for-4 night on Monday, right fielder Josh Reddick (.322/.394/.466 2016 slash) began his own rehab stint.

Melvin said that he only expects the Gold Glover to spend one week in the minors before his major-league return:

“If everything goes right there, we’re looking at probably five games. … All things go well there, he’ll be back the first game of the Giants series (June. 27).”


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.