The good news came Monday night, but the A’s will still have to wait a bit to see the return of first baseman Matt Olson.
An errant fastball struck Olson’s left hand during Monday's 9-5 win over the D-backs at Chase Field, forcing the two-time Gold Glove Award winner out of the game in the eighth inning.
After the game, manager Bob Melvin revealed that X-rays on Olson’s hand showed no broken bones. He sustained a left thumb contusion, though, and the consequential swelling will keep him out of at least one more game.
“He’s a tough guy,” Melvin said on Tuesday. “If he’s not able to play today, it means it’s bothering him, so hopefully we gain some ground with treatment today. We have an off-day [Wednesday]; we’ll see if he’ll be available the next day.
“It got him in a tough spot. The thumb swelled up. It’s difficult for him to grip a bat, let alone even catch a ball right now.”
Olson went 0-for-2 at the plate with a sacrifice fly before being replaced by Seth Brown at first base to finish the game. The 28-year-old Brown -- who clubbed his first career home run on Saturday -- started at first in Tuesday’s series finale against Arizona. That marked Brown’s second career start at the position, with the other coming back in 2019.
Mitch Moreland, another option at first base who has missed the past three games with a sore right hamstring, took batting practice before Monday's game but was held out of Tuesday’s starting lineup.
Melvin said Moreland could be used as a pinch-hitter, and the team is confident he’ll be “good to go” following Wednesday’s off-day.
“We’re trying to be careful,” Melvin said. “We have a ton of injuries right now. Just something you have to play through, but I think we’re gaining a lot of ground with him and, like I said, after the off-day I think he’ll be able to get back in the DH role.”
Moreland has made three starts at first and five as a designated hitter in 2021. He’s batting 4-for-24 (.167) with zero extra-base hits and eight strikeouts.
Murphy making tweaks after ‘slow first week’
The ups and downs of Sean Murphy’s past few months have gone something like this: in late January, he underwent two surgeries for a collapsed lung, which pushed back his arrival to Spring Training; once in Arizona, Murphy posted a 1.042 OPS in nine games; but when the season started, he fell into an 0-for-15 slump.
Murphy said his offseason health issue “wasn’t ideal,” but he didn’t want to use it as an excuse, especially after excelling in Cactus League play. And while there’s no sense in panicking over a small sample size, the A’s catcher decided to look into it further.
“You can’t totally ignore it, either,” Murphy said Tuesday morning. “There’s obviously some reasons why I was swinging the bat so poorly. Went to video, saw some things. It’s a little bit of both. It’s a slump, but also there’s a reason behind it. So we have to iron those things out.”
In this case, that meant assessing his plate approach and trying to pick up the ball out of a pitcher’s hand as quickly as possible. Murphy acknowledged he was “trying to do too much” at the plate in the season's first week or so.
Over the past two games, Murphy is 3-for-8 with two doubles, two RBIs and a hit-by-pitch. Much like you shouldn’t panic over a small sample, you probably shouldn’t rejoice over one, either. But it’s still a positive step forward for one of the club's key players.
More importantly, Murphy said the collapsed lung he suffered is mostly out of his mind.
“I feel good,” he said. “I don’t think about it most days. Unless somebody asks about it, really, it doesn’t play a role in what I’m doing.”
A's beat reporter Martín Gallegos contributed to this report