Matt Chapman was out of the A's starting lineup on Monday for the start of a critical stretch of five games in four days against the Astros, and his chances of playing at all in the series look bleak after MRI results revealed tendinitis in his right hip.
Chapman was pulled from Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the Padres at the Oakland Coliseum just before the start of the fifth inning with what the A’s announced as a right hip strain. While manager Bob Melvin said the club is not considering a stint on the injured list for Chapman at this time, a cautious day-to-day approach will be taken with the third baseman.
“He’s frustrated. This is a series that everybody can see coming,” Melvin said before Monday’s game against the Astros at the Coliseum. “He was excited about this series and now, he might have to miss it, certainly the first few games. He’s not happy about it. It takes a lot for him to come out of a game. The timing is unfortunate.”
The injury was something Melvin said Chapman had been dealing with on and off during the season. The hip issue seemed to worsen on Sunday after Chapman ranged to his left to snag a grounder by Jurickson Profar before making an impressive spinning throw to Matt Olson at first base for the second out of the fourth inning. Chapman was seen stretching out his right leg prior to the start of the fifth, with the club’s athletic training staff keeping a close eye. Once the inning began, it was utility infielder Chad Pinder who ran out of the dugout to fill Chapman’s spot on the field.
“That spin and throw he had to make yesterday really put it over the hump to where he needed to come out of the game,” Melvin said. “We have some tough guys who play hurt or banged up. At some point, it just gets to a point where you’re not doing your team any good if you continue to try to play on it. He was comfortable playing up to that throw. But now we’re going to have to back him off for a while.”
A breather might not be a bad idea for Chapman, who was in the midst of a brutal stretch at the plate before his removal. Chapman had struck out in seven consecutive plate appearances and 10 of his last 11 at-bats, including two punchouts on Sunday.
Still, a long-term injury for Chapman would not be ideal for the A’s, especially with first place on the line as they enter this series with a 3 1/2-game lead over second-place Houston in the American League West. In addition to the usual defensive wizardry he’s been providing at the hot corner, the reigning Gold and Platinum Glove Award winner is tied for the team lead with 10 home runs and entered Sunday’s contest ranked seventh in the Majors with 21 extra-base hits.
“It’s not great timing, period, to lose a player like that,” Melvin said. “We’ve actually been pretty fortunate with few injuries. To lose a guy like Chappy would hurt if it was an extended period.”
Marcus Semien also remained out of Monday's lineup as he deals with left side soreness, though Melvin revealed that the shortstop took batting practice on the field before the game and anticipates his return at some point during this series.
Tommy La Stella was given the start at third on Monday in place of Chapman. But who plays the hot corner in Chapman’s absence could vary depending on the pitching matchup on a certain day. Chad Pinder and Vimael Machín are the two other players on the roster who have seen playing time at third this season.
Puk shut down
What had been an encouraging progression from a left shoulder strain for A’s left-hander A.J. Puk has come to a screeching halt.
Originally scheduled to throw to hitters down at the A's alternate training site in San Jose on Sunday for perhaps the final time before getting called back up to the Majors, Puk experienced a setback as lingering shoulder issues crept up, leading to the club shutting him down for the interim until he sees a doctor in the coming days.
“He didn’t throw yesterday and didn’t feel good enough to throw today or even play catch,” Melvin said. “It’s the shoulder again. He’s got a little soreness in there. I don’t know how severe. He’s probably going to have to see a doctor here in the next day or so.”
Puk, Oakland’s No. 2 prospect, was expected to return to the club to serve as a valuable piece in the bullpen down the stretch, similar to his relief role last season. Placed on the injured list just days before the start of the regular season, a return in 2020 is now in serious jeopardy.