KANSAS CITY -- A's outfielder Ramón Laureano appears to be in the final stages of his recovery from a stress reaction in his right shin.
After taking multiple days off in between running sessions in order to reduce the impact on his shin, Laureano has now upped his running progression to an every-other-day basis. The center fielder participated in running drills at the club's Minor League complex on Tuesday and he will do so again on Thursday.
“He’s feeling good,” manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s all about when the doctors clear him to get here. We’re not quite there yet and trying to stay pretty strict with the timetable they talked about, but we’re starting to ramp it up.”
In an effort to remain sharp at the plate, Laureano has been getting regular at-bats since Friday. Melvin said the at-bats could help him return sooner by avoiding an actual rehab assignment with one of the A's Minor League affiliates, but he also acknowledged that a decision on whether Laureano still goes to the Minors will come from the front office.
“I think we would consider this the rehab assignment with him facing pitchers,” Melvin said. “I think they’re trying to get some guys lined up [to face him] even when we get back home. My guess is he’ll have plenty of at-bats in this time.”
The A’s miss the energy Laureano brings on a daily basis, along with his 21 home runs and 58 RBIs that accompany his .284 average, but the production they’ve received from Mark Canha in his absence has allowed the club to not have to rush the dynamic outfielder back.
Since Laureano’s placement on the 10-day injured list on July 28, Canha entered Tuesday’s game against the Royals slashing .345/.412/.563 with five home runs and 15 RBIs over 22 games as the fill-in center fielder. It's part of a breakout season for the 30-year-old that has already seen Canha set a new career high with 22 home runs.
“He’s meant a lot for this team,” Melvin said. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now. The most impressive thing is how far he’s come in center field.”
Fresh off winning his first American League Player of the Week Award for his impressive numbers last week, Canha would likely still get regular at-bats with his ability to play all three outfield positions and the A’s currently going with more of a platoon at the corner spots as Stephen Piscotty rehabs from a right ankle sprain.
Who gets the call?
With Major League rosters expanding from 25 to 40 on Sunday, the A’s plan to add a third catcher.
There’s a certain temptation to bring up Sean Murphy, ranked as the club's No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline, who appears to be fully healthy after battling a couple of injuries earlier this season. Murphy is batting .337 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs in 27 games with Triple-A Las Vegas, and he impressed Melvin and the coaching staff with his defense during his invite to Spring Training.
Dustin Garneau is another option. Garneau was designated for assignment by Oakland on Aug. 16, but he cleared waivers and is also at Las Vegas to provide depth.
“You have to balance where Sean is after his injuries and how much he could potentially play,” Melvin said. “You have a guy like Dustin who is used to not playing and could fulfill that role. There will be a lot of talk leading up into Sunday on who that will be.”
Melvin wouldn’t completely rule out calling up both, but the A’s would have to clear two spots on the roster to make that happen with neither catcher on the 40-man.
“You don’t typically have four catchers,” Melvin said. “Nothing is for certain, though.”