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Piscotty (ribs) questionable for Opening Day

@MartinJGallegos
February 28, 2020

MESA, Ariz. -- The A’s have been excited by what they’ve seen from their young outfield prospects this spring. They may end up needing to rely on one of them even more heavily than expected.

MESA, Ariz. -- The A’s have been excited by what they’ve seen from their young outfield prospects this spring. They may end up needing to rely on one of them even more heavily than expected.

Stephen Piscotty has been held out of games this spring due to a strain in his rib cage. On Friday morning before the team's 10-1 loss to the Reds, A’s manager Bob Melvin said that Piscotty’s MRI came back “a little worse” than originally anticipated.

“I can’t give you a timetable at this point,” Melvin said. “He’s going to be shut down for a bit.”

Given the lack of at-bats he’ll likely have this spring, and the hitting progression he'll be required to go through when returning from such an injury, it’s unclear if Piscotty will be ready to go as the A’s starting right fielder come Opening Day against the Twins on March 26 at the Oakland Coliseum. Melvin is not ruling it out, but said he has “no idea” at this point. It will all be dependent on when the outfielder is able to pick up a bat again and take swings.

After playing in 151 games during his first season with the A’s in 2018, knee and ankle injuries limited Piscotty to 93 regular-season games in '19, when he batted .249/.309/.412 with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs.

Piscotty’s injury could open the door for one of several outfield prospects in big league camp. Those in the mix include Luis Barrera, Dustin Fowler, Skye Bolt and Seth Brown.

“It looked really crowded, and that’s a good problem to have,” Melvin said of the A’s outfield depth. “But the more you do this, the more you realize how important depth is. Not only with pitching, but with position players. It’s very rare now that you get through Spring Training healthy.

"Things have changed a bit in how you deal with Spring Training. It’s about getting off the field healthy. We do have some depth there.”

Murphy to debut Tuesday

Sean Murphy, Oakland’s No. 3 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is expected to make his Cactus League debut Tuesday against the White Sox. The catcher has had a lighter workload early in camp as he returns from offseason knee surgery. Murphy is expected to enter the regular season as Oakland's starting catcher.

Up next
Left-hander Sean Manaea makes his second Cactus League outing when the A's travel to Las Vegas for a special two-game series with the Indians that begins Saturday at 1:05 p.m. PT. Manaea is still working on improving his slider, a pitch which got him into a bit of trouble in his first spring outing, as he was tagged for six runs over 1 2/3 innings. Zach Plesac is scheduled to start for Cleveland. The game can be seen live on MLB.TV and locally on NBC Sports California, and fans can also listen live on A's Cast. Right-hander Paul Blackburn will stay in Arizona to make the start for the A's in a split-squad game against the Indians at 12:05 p.m. PT, and fans can listen live on Gameday Audio.

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