OAKLAND -- Playing video games at home before heading to the Coliseum has become a ritual for Jesús Luzardo on days he’s scheduled to pitch. It’s a way for the lefty to distract himself for a while from the real game he’ll be playing later that day.
For his most recent start, however, that routine went awry.
About four hours before the first pitch of Saturday’s loss against the Orioles, Luzardo swung his hands rapidly in an upward motion and struck a table next to him with his left hand. No more than two minutes after, the A's left-hander noticed it starting to swell up.
“I stopped playing and knew something was up,” Luzardo said. “It was a dumb mistake. And it was also kind of a freak accident. I felt pretty stupid about it.”
Upon arriving to the stadium about an hour and a half before the 1:08 p.m. PT first pitch, Luzardo informed manager Bob Melvin about what had happened. Under the watch of the team training staff, he proceeded with his normal warmup routine, the two sides concluding that he was good enough to pitch.
Later that day, he was chased after just three innings against Baltimore, allowing six runs (three earned). His command was also uncharacteristically off, issuing two walks and throwing two wild pitches. Postgame X-rays then revealed a hairline fracture in his left pinkie.
Though he doesn't believe the issue was worsened by pitching that day, in hindsight, Luzardo said it might have been a good idea to opt out of making his scheduled start. But he said he did not want to put any of his teammates in a bad spot, especially right-hander Frankie Montas, who was warming up on standby in case Luzardo was unable to go.
“That’s just the competitor in me and the fact I didn’t want to put anyone in jeopardy,” Luzardo said. “I know Frankie went to the bullpen that day. I didn’t want to put him in a spot to have to fill in for me. Maybe the smart thing would have been to not pitch, but I wasn’t just trying to say, ‘Oh, I’m done.’”
The following day, Luzardo arrived at the Coliseum and apologized to his teammates, who were all supportive of the 23-year-old.
"He was very apologetic and is certainly embarrassed that something like that happened," Melvin said. "It wasn't intentional. He doesn't have to apologize. You have to give him credit for just taking the ball and trying to stand up for his teammates. I don't know what the timetable is. But we'll get him healthy and back."
Despite the disappointment over what occurred, Luzardo said he is trying to focus on the positives from this situation. Knowing he’ll be out at least a couple of turns through the rotation after he was placed on the 10-day injured list on Sunday, his plan is to use this time wisely.
Aside from keeping his arm in good shape to ensure he doesn’t lose too much ground upon returning, Luzardo said he wants to sit back and re-evaluate his mindset on the mound. His focus all year has been to develop more consistency in order to live up to the high expectations placed on him as the future ace of Oakland’s pitching staff.
So far, he’s had to battle the typical ups and downs of a young pitcher, going 1-3 with a 5.79 ERA in six starts so far this season. The electric arm has been on display, with 30 strikeouts against 12 walks across 28 innings, but his goal now is to stabilize his results.
“I’ve had struggles throughout this year,” Luzardo said. “I could use this time. Even though I don’t want to miss time, I could use it as a positive. This is something that can help maybe my mentality.
“Just figuring certain things out that I’ve been struggling with and fixing it now so once I get back on the mound, I can just keep it going.”
Garcia placed on IL
The A’s placed catcher Aramis Garcia on the 10-day injured list prior to Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jays with viral enteritis. Melvin described the issue as a “stomach flu that is pretty contagious.”
Austin Allen, who made last year’s Opening Day roster as the club’s backup catcher, was recalled from the A’s alternate site in Stockton. He’s expected to split time behind the plate with Sean Murphy.
• Left-hander A.J. Puk (biceps strain) threw a 30-pitch session on Tuesday. His next outing will come against hitters on a date that is still to be determined.
• Right-hander Burch Smith (groin strain) will make a rehab appearance on Thursday for Triple-A Las Vegas.