OAKLAND -- Dustin Fowler is the A's center fielder of the future. But with Nick Martini impressing in the outfield, Fowler struggling, and the team in the thick of a playoff race, now is not the time for development.
On Wednesday, the A's sent Fowler down to Triple-A Nashville and on Friday, they called up outfielder Ramon Laureano to replace him. Laureano made his Major League debut Friday night, batting ninth and playing center field against the Tigers. He went 0-for-4 before delivering a walk-off hit in the 13th inning to lift the A's over the Tigers, 1-0.
Laureano also came through with his defense as he threw out Jose Iglesias trying to advance to third base in the top of the 13th.
Laureano was drafted by the Astros in 2014 and acquired by the A's in a trade last November for pitcher Brandon Bailey. He started the Triple-A season on the disabled list after being hit by a pitch and breaking his left pinky finger during a Spring Training game, but he has been on a tear over the last month. In his last 29 games, Laureano is batting .372 with nine home runs and 19 RBIs.
• Watch Laureano learn of callup
"We were excited to get him," Melvin said before the game. "I know when we did acquire him, [executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane and general manager David Forst] were talking about how he was basically untouchable the year before with the Astros and a tough guy to get."
Fowler has seen his playing time decrease in recent weeks, with Martini -- also a left-handed bat -- hitting .321 in 21 games since being called up in June. Fowler, meanwhile, hit .192 (9-for-51) in July.
"I think he got to a point where he needs to be a little bit more aggressive in everything he does, whether it's stealing bases or in the outfield," Melvin said of Fowler. "We weren't doing him any favors by not playing him. He was basically inactive last year, [and] needs consistent at-bats. He hasn't been getting that at this point especially with the way Martini was playing. It's time for him to go down and play every day. We will see him back here at some point, I'm sure."
Laureano has speed and athleticism and can play all three outfield positions.
The 24-year-old noted that starting the season on the shelf was challenging, but thinks it will all pay off with his journey in the big leagues.
"During that process, you're like, 'Oh man, come on.' But I knew everything was going to be okay, I was going to learn from it," Laureano said. "That's what I did. One day, I can say that was the best part of my life."
• Chad Pinder, who is on the 10-day disabled list with a left elbow laceration after a car accident on Saturday in Denver, is feeling better and took batting practice on Friday. Melvin hopes Pinder will be active for the series against the Dodgers that starts on Tuesday.
• Right-handed reliever Carlos Ramirez, who was designated for assignment on Wednesday, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Nashville.