OAKLAND -- While the A’s have enjoyed another season in which they find themselves in the thick of the playoff picture, the 2021 campaign has brought immense frustration for Chad Pinder.
Between a sprained left knee and strained right hamstring, Pinder has missed a total of 69 games due to injury this year. Reinstated from the injured list prior to Friday’s series opener of the three-game Bay Bridge Series with the Giants, the utility man is focused on making the most of these final 40 regular-season games.
“This year, so far, as far as the injuries, has been a little bit of a disappointment,” said Pinder, who is batting .216 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 46 games. “All that matters now is this last stretch where we’re fighting for a postseason spot. Any contribution that I can give, I’m going to give 110 percent of my effort.”
There’s no debating the impact a healthy Pinder can bring to this ballclub. That was evident during last year’s playoff push, where he filled in for an injured Matt Chapman as the A’s primary third baseman and ended up one of the club’s top hitters in postseason play.
In the immediate future, Pinder’s versatility is expected to be utilized mostly in the outfield against left-handed pitching. He was in Friday’s starting lineup in right field against Giants lefty Alex Wood. His return presents an even bigger impact in the clubhouse, though, where he’s emerged as a team leader despite his non-everyday role.
“It’s tough to be a team leader when you’re not an everyday player,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “But he came up with our core group. They used to call it ‘Pindergarten’ in the Minor Leagues. He would always have Chapman and Olson and everybody in line. He’s a resource for me to get a message across or get history on somebody.
“I’ve said often that he’s got the ability to manage once his career is over. It was nice to get him back here, because he’s a big influence on our clubhouse.”
On Friday, just three days after the incident, Melvin said he noticed a significant decrease in swelling in the cheek area under Bassitt's right eye. Bassitt is expected to undergo surgery next week to repair multiple fractures.
“I saw pictures today and he made really good improvement, as far as how he looked,” Melvin said. “The swelling on the side of the face. The eye was starting to open up more. If he continues to have progress like that, it expedites and speeds up the recovery time. It was great to see him look like he did today.”
The A’s have not determined whether Bassitt will be able to pitch again this season. Of course, based on the All-Star righty’s attitude and determination shown throughout this ordeal (which included a surprise pregame meet-up and pep talk prior to Thursday's finale win in Chicago), Melvin said he wouldn’t rule out a return to the mound by season’s end.
“You do have to plan [that he won’t return this year]. But I don’t think Chris thinks his season is over, by any stretch,” Melvin said. “Once he gets through the surgery, it is on his mind to get back this season.”