A's without 2 key players as camp opens

Melvin: Montas positive for COVID-19, Murphy recovering from collapsed lung

February 17th, 2021

Spring Training got underway in Arizona for the A’s on Wednesday with two notable players absent from camp.

According to manager Bob Melvin, is away from the club due to a positive test for COVID-19, and is at home as he recovers from a collapsed lung that required surgery in the offseason.

Montas -- Oakland’s Opening Day starter last season -- is experiencing flu-like symptoms, Melvin said. The right-hander remains at his home in Arizona.

“He’s several days into it,” Melvin said during a Zoom call before the A's first workout of spring on Wednesday. “He does feel the effects of it. He was having some symptoms, more flu-like than probably anything else at this point. He’s going to be a little bit behind.”

Though the A's training staff will determine when Montas' arm will be in good enough shape to join the other pitchers in throwing sessions after he's cleared to return, Melvin didn't expect him to be away from camp for a lengthy amount of time.

“I don’t know that he’s going to be too late actually getting in here,” Melvin said. “He’ll be with us. It’s just when the trainers are comfortable enough letting him go out and do baseball activity.”

The reason for Murphy’s collapsed lung is unclear. Melvin said the catcher woke up one morning a couple of weeks ago and noticed discomfort while breathing. Murphy went to the hospital later that day and underwent surgery.

A’s general manager David Forst described Murphy’s injury as a “freak thing” that could have been caused by something as simple as a hard cough during his sleep that led to a pulmonary bleb (a small air pocket or blister), which created a small hole in his lung. Doctors told Murphy that while the surgery was not necessary, it was recommended in order to avoid a recurrence of the issue.

Advised not to fly for four weeks post-surgery, Murphy will drive to camp from his home in Dayton, Ohio, next week. The expectation is that he can partake in baseball activities around the first week of March.

“The prognosis -- as we sit here -- sounds good,” Melvin said. “Our training staff believes we’ll get him here in time in spring at some point, obviously a little bit delayed. But the timetable is for him to be ready for Opening Day. It sounds pretty dramatic, but they think the procedure went well and the prognosis is good.”

Murphy enjoyed a strong rookie campaign last season, and he is expected to continue his role as the primary catcher for the A’s this season. In the meantime, pitchers will get increased work with catchers Austin Allen, Aramis Garcia, Kyle McCann, Francisco Peña, Carlos Pérez and 2020 first-round pick Tyler Soderstrom in camp.