The A’s could be on the verge of getting one of their main spark plugs back at the top of their lineup.
Ramón Laureano, who was removed from Friday’s 9-5 loss to Houston after jamming his left wrist in the sixth inning on a diving attempt to reach first base on a groundout to the pitcher, was feeling much better before Sunday’s four-game series finale against the Astros. Though he was not in Sunday’s starting lineup, the outfielder could return as soon as Monday, when the A’s welcome the Dodgers for the start of a three-game series at the Coliseum.
“Ramón feels a lot better today,” said manager Bob Melvin on Sunday. “I’m encouraged. We’ll see tomorrow. I think we’re getting a little bit closer with him.”
The aggressive dive to first base was part of what makes Laureano a special player. That all-out hustle is part of his DNA. So while Melvin may not have enjoyed seeing one of his top players put himself in a risky situation, he understands that was just an instinctive play for Laureano.
"I think he probably regrets sliding into first like that, but he’s a pretty aggressive player,” Melvin said. “Sometimes it’s tough to tell your internal clock to play a little bit differently.”
Laureano’s RBI triple to center in the fourth inning of Friday’s loss was the type of clutch hit that eluded the A’s in Saturday’s 9-1 loss to Houston, which saw Oakland go 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Laureano’s injury adds to what has been a tough bout with the injury bug to begin the season. Closer Trevor Rosenthal was placed on the injured list on Opening Day with right shoulder inflammation, while Sean Murphy remained out of the starting lineup on Sunday as he deals with a right hand contusion that developed after he was hit by a pitch on Friday night. Melvin said Murphy had some trouble swinging in the batting cage before Sunday’s game and will need at least one more day of rest.
The injuries provide an opportunity for backups like Ka’ai Tom and Aramis Garcia, who were both in Saturday’s starting lineup. Lefty Jake Diekman, who allowed two earned runs in the ninth inning of Friday’s loss, is expected to see the majority of save opportunities in the interim.
“They need to step up. It’s next man up when you have injuries,” Melvin said. “These are three key injuries for us that have popped up early on. It doesn’t feel great, but that’s why you have a 26-man roster. These guys will get a chance to perform. We feel like we have a roster that can deal with injuries.”
Fiers begins rehab trail
Mike Fiers is progressing well from a lumbar strain that landed him on the IL to begin the season -- to the point where he is now set to throw three innings in a scrimmage game at the A’s alternate training site at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Calif., on Monday. Fiers will face members of the Giants' alternate training site, which is set up in Sacramento.
“I’m still targeting the end of April,” Melvin said of a potential return for Fiers. “There’s a whole month of scheduled games. He’ll get his innings in at the alt site against the Giants.”
Fiers has been a workhorse for the A’s since joining them in 2018, going 26-9 with a 4.00 ERA in 54 games over that time.