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Diekman excited to join 'the hunt' with A's

@MartinJGallegos
July 30, 2019

OAKLAND -- After the headaches experienced playing the A’s in divisional matchups over the last four seasons, Jake Diekman looks forward to getting a behind-the-scenes view of how his new club always tends to make some magic happen. “I watched the game on Sunday. Walk-off walk, right? Like, that happens

OAKLAND -- After the headaches experienced playing the A’s in divisional matchups over the last four seasons, Jake Diekman looks forward to getting a behind-the-scenes view of how his new club always tends to make some magic happen.

“I watched the game on Sunday. Walk-off walk, right? Like, that happens all the time,” Diekman said, referring to Khris Davis’ game-ending walk against the Rangers Sunday afternoon. “I hated coming here and playing because I know how good the defense and all the hitters are.”

Diekman no longer has to worry about dealing with the A’s magic. The left-handed reliever was acquired from the Royals on Saturday. Given a couple of days to gather his things and move his family out to the Bay Area, Diekman arrived to the Coliseum for Tuesday’s series opener against the Brewers hoping to help an Oakland club that finds itself in possession of the second American League Wild Card.

“I played against Oakland when I was in Texas. I know how good this team is, and they’re in the playoff hunt,” Diekman said. “Just coming into an environment where you’re in the hunt and everyday matters is super exciting.”

Handling the eighth inning as the setup man to Royals closer Ian Kennedy for a majority of the season, Diekman is expected to be used in a similar role with the A’s as they look to improve a bullpen that leads the AL with 20 blown saves. His combination of a high-velocity fastball and spinning slider have led to a high strikeout total with Kansas City. Diekman racked up 63 punchouts over 41 2/3 innings, showing the ability to get both left and right-handed hitters out.

Overall, Diekman is 0-6 with a 4.75 ERA in 48 appearances with the Royals this season.

“He will be the late lefty. I think he was pretty aware of that coming in,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve seen him be that eighth-inning guy in Texas, so it’s nice to have a guy who can get swings-and-misses against guys on both sides of the plate.”

There is an obvious thrill for Diekman to go from a rebuilding club to one that could find itself in the postseason, but the 32-year-old is glad to just be playing the game after a health scare sidelined him for nearly an entire year.

Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 10, Diekman was able to keep the condition under control until a bad flare-up in 2017 led to a three-part surgery to remove and replace his colon. The first part of the surgery began in January, keeping him off a Major League mound until September of that year.

“When you’re on the IL for five or six months of the year, you have a lot of downtime,” Diekman said. “I won’t say you reinvent yourself, but you fall in love with the game that you missed and had taken away from you. I’m having a lot of fun now.”

Laureano dealing with shin soreness

Ramon Laureano was kept out of the starting lineup Sunday for a planned day off to deal with a minor hip issue, but the center fielder was held out again for Tuesday’s game, this time with soreness in his right shin.

Melvin said Laureano has been dealing with the shin issue for a few months now and the club decided to have him undergo an MRI Tuesday afternoon. The A’s are expecting to get the results at some point Tuesday night.

“It’s been on and off,” Melvin said. “It’s obviously a concern that he’s not in the lineup again today.”

Injury notes

Josh Phegley (left thumb contusion) was not in the starting lineup for Tuesday’s game. Melvin did not want to reveal whether or not the catcher would be available off the bench, saying the injury is a day-to-day proposition.

Sean Manaea (left shoulder) will start for Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday night and be pushed up to a 90-pitch limit. Melvin said the left-hander will get one more start after Tuesday on a similar pitch count, and if all goes well, he could rejoin the team at some point next week.

Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.