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Knee surgery prolongs Hundley's IL stint

Taylor holding down backup catcher duties in his absence
@MartinJGallegos
June 18, 2019

OAKLAND -- Back spasms landed Nick Hundley on the injured list June 8, but surgery to fix a separate issue is going to keep him out even longer. The A’s catcher underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday with Dr. Jon Dickinson at Presidio Surgical Center in San Francisco.

OAKLAND -- Back spasms landed Nick Hundley on the injured list June 8, but surgery to fix a separate issue is going to keep him out even longer.

The A’s catcher underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday with Dr. Jon Dickinson at Presidio Surgical Center in San Francisco. The procedure involved cleaning up a tear within the medial meniscus of his knee.

Hundley’s knee problem was something the A’s were aware of late in Spring Training, but the effects he was feeling were not grave enough to the point where the club felt it would limit him on the field. The A’s believe Hundley could still play with the knee pain right now, but already on the 10-day IL and not ready to come off Tuesday when he was eligible, the two sides decided it would be best to fix both problems at once.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said Hundley’s recovery process could last about six weeks before returning to game action.

“I think he got to a point with the back keeping him out, maybe it made sense to get the knee done, too, and get that all cleaned up,” Melvin said. “Sometimes it just gets to be a pain to play with something bothering you. When he comes back from all this, he should be completely healthy.”

Hundley was batting .200 with two home runs and five RBIs over 31 games as the primary backup to Josh Phegley, and the A’s are confident they can get at least similar production out of Beau Taylor, who has already been filling in for Hundley.

Taylor has impressed in his short time with the club, contributing on both offense and defense. After a brief stint in the Majors last season as a September call up, this is Taylor’s first real shot at somewhat consistent playing time with the A’s. He was in the starting lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Orioles.

“Beau has always been on the cusp for us in the last year and a half or so,” Melvin said of Taylor, who hit .297 in 38 games at Triple-A Las Vegas before getting called up June 8. “This is his first real opportunity to get some playing time and he’s taking advantage of it. He’s studying hard and knows the opponent. He gets all our signs and takes the gameplan out there and is swinging the bat well. He’s fit in really well here.”

Taylor has only played in three games for Oakland, but he’s managed to make a standout play in each of those, including an impressive throw to nab Mallex Smith at second base in Sunday’s loss to the Mariners. It was quite the feat to throw out Smith, who had been caught stealing once in 19 attempts prior to that play.

“It’s something he’s been working hard on. The bat has been there, it’s been catching up on the defense,” Melvin said. “When he’s playing this way, it’s probably prudent to get him in there on a semi-regular basis.”

Herrmann making progress
While Hundley is sidelined a while longer, Chris Herrmann is closing in on a return to full health. The catcher has played five games for Triple-A Las Vegas, hitting .333 with two home runs and six RBIs as he rehabs from knee surgery. Still easing his way back into catching every day -- he caught seven innings Monday and was the designated hitter on Tuesday -- Herrmann needs to get to the point where he can catch nine innings for multiple games in a row. After beginning his rehab assignment June 13, Herrmann and the A’s have until July 2 to make a decision on whether he’s ready to return to the big leagues.

“He’s on his way back, but there’s only so much time as far as that goes,” Melvin said. “At this point in time, we’re comfortable with Beau.”

Herrmann was signed to a one-year deal this offseason and was expected to split time with either Phegley or Hundley in a platoon role at catcher.

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