Montas exits start with finger injury

March 26th, 2021

A’s right-hander exited Thursday’s 8-5 win over the Mariners at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz., due to a cuticle tear on his right middle finger.

After issuing a leadoff walk to Dylan Moore in the third inning, Montas proceeded to hit Jarred Kelenic with a pitch. Noticing blood dripping onto Montas’ pant leg, A’s manager Bob Melvin walked out to the mound with a training staff member to check on him. Just a few seconds later, Montas was escorted off the field and replaced on the mound by Deolis Guerra.

Melvin said the bleeding nail issue popped up for Montas in a previous outing this spring around the time when he had already reached his pitch limit and was set to leave the game. The A’s are planning to get Montas one more appearance before the regular season in a simulated game when the club returns to Oakland next week for a workout at the Coliseum, but they’ll first have to wait a couple of days to see how his finger is doing.

“We’ll have to see how the nail responds,” Melvin said. “For a guy like him, as long as he’s healthy enough to pitch the next time out and get his pitch count up into the 70s, then we’ll feel good about it.”

Montas had followed up a scoreless first with some command issues in the second, which may have been partially due to the finger tear. He walked Braden Bishop to load the bases that inning before allowing a two-run double to Jack Reinheimer, with the inning later ending on that same play after Bishop was tagged out in a rundown between third base and home.

“Obviously, we would have liked to get a higher pitch count out of him today,” Melvin said. “Hopefully, it responds by [his workout day], and we can get his numbers up as far as the pitches.”

Oakland’s 2020 Opening Day starter, Montas is expected to once again pitch near the top of the A’s rotation this season. Having gone 3-5 with a 5.60 ERA in 11 starts last year, he’s looking for a bounce-back year closer to his 2019 form, when he posted a 2.63 ERA with 103 strikeouts in 96 innings.

Should Montas have to miss some time to begin the regular season, the A’s have a few options. Right-hander Daulton Jefferies and left-handers A.J. Puk and Cole Irvin are currently vying for the rotation spot that was recently vacated by Mike Fiers this spring as he deals with left hip inflammation that has kept him out of Cactus League action.

Piscotty coming to life
After taking a few days off following a cortisone shot to relieve soreness in his left wrist, Stephen Piscotty is beginning to show the form the A’s hope to get in the regular season.

Piscotty homered for a second straight day on Thursday, crushing a two-run shot off left-hander Nick Margevicius as part of a 2-for-3 day that also featured a double. The home runs on back-to-back days are his first two of the Cactus League, and he’s upped his batting average from .130 to .200 over the past two games.

Fiers throws bullpen session
Fiers continues to make progress as he works back from inflammation in his left hip that has sidelined him for most of Spring Training. The right-hander threw a bullpen session on Thursday, and though it’s still unlikely he’ll be ready by Opening Day, Melvin said the fact that Fiers continues to feel good in his sessions is a positive.

“It’s just all about how quickly we can get him back,” Melvin said. “It’s the same routine everybody goes through. A couple of bullpens, then you throw to hitters and start game action. We’re not there with him yet. But he’s a guy that, as far as injuries, you don’t worry about as much and can maybe speed up. But we’ll rely on our training staff to guide us.”

Fiers made 11 starts for Oakland last year, going 6-3 with a 4.58 ERA. Since joining the A’s in 2018, he’s 26-9 with a 4.00 ERA in 54 games.

Up next
The A’s travel to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., on Friday for a 6:05 p.m. PT game against the Dodgers. Right-hander Chris Bassitt, who was named Oakland’s Opening Day starter on Thursday, will take the mound for the A’s in his fourth Cactus League start. Left-hander Clayton Kershaw will start for Los Angeles.