Athletics right-hander Henderson Alvarez underwent an MRI in his shoulder yesterday, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. The early belief is that Alvarez has a minor shoulder strain, which Slusser notes is not necessarily unusual in rehabs from this type of shoulder surgery, nor would it be considered a significant setback. Alvarez was said to be targeting a mid-May return to a big league mound, but the minor setback, at the very least, seems likely to push back that timeline.
Athletics first baseman/outfielder Mark Canha will undergo season-ending surgery to repair an impingement in his left hip, he told the media today (links to Twitter via Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle and via John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group). Canha tells reporters that his season is over, as he’ll have a recovery timeline of roughly six months following the operation.
Canha, 27, was a Rule 5 success story for Oakland last season. The Rockies were the club to actually select Canha in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, but the Rox promptly traded him to Oakland in exchange for minor leaguer Austin House and cash considerations. The A’s carried Canha on the active roster all throughout the 2015 season and were rewarded with 485 plate appearances of a .254/.315/.426 batting line and 16 homers. However, the 2016 season has been another story entirely, due largely to the hip problems, which Canha has previously called a source of “excruciating” pain while batting. He was said late last week to be weighing this operation and made his decision after receiving a second opinion on the injury yesterday. Hickey tweets that the procedure will be performed next Tuesday.
Canha will presumably spend the bulk of the season on the 60-day disabled list for Oakland, where he’ll accrue Major League service time. Because he made his MLB debut on Opening Day last season and spent the entire year on the roster, he’ll finish the 2016 campaign with an even two years of service. That means he’ll be controllable through the 2020 season and will not be eligible for arbitration until the 2017-18 offseason.
Athletics righty Henderson Alvarez has suffered a “setback” in his efforts to return from shoulder surgery, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports on Twitter. Oakland had hoped to plug him into the major league rotation in the coming days, but instead Alvarez is headed for an MRI. The 26-year-old had turned in six solid starts in his minor league rehab assignment, leading to hope that he’d provide a boost to an A’s staff that has largely failed to produce quality results thus far. Alvarez’s prognosis remains unclear at this time.
The Mariners are off to a 21-16 start and currently sit a half game back in the AL West, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today spoke to a number of players on the roster as well as general manager Jerry Dipoto about the club’s early surge. As Dipoto explained to to Nightengale, his focus during his first offseason as the Seattle GM was to restructure the roster without compromising the impressive core he inherited. “I learned there really is no such thing as rebuilding in the major leagues,” said Dipoto. “You can rebuild organizations, but you’re here to win at the big-league level. We wanted to rebuild and replenish our player development, but when you have Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez, and Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz, why would you ever rebuild?” Dipoto praised ownership for allowing him to pursue creative opportunities to turn the roster over and also stressed the importance of building a winning culture, not merely accumulating talent. Acquired in the offseason, left-hander Wade Miley explained to Nightengale that said vision has paid off. “This is the most fun I’ve ever had,” said Miley, who came over in the Carson Smith trade with the Red Sox. “Well, since I was 12.” Miley is just one of many new faces, though, as Nightengale points out that there are only eight holdovers from last year’s disappointing roster — a testament to Dipoto’s aggressive winter maneuverings.
More from the division…
- The Astros’ acquisition of Carlos Gomez hasn’t paid off as the club had hoped last summer, as he’s batted just .215/.266/.322 with Houston and dealt with multiple injuries. Despite the high-profile nature of the acquisition, GM Jeff Luhnow suggested today that Gomez’s leash is growing shorter. Via MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart (on Twitter): “I think he’s going to have to turn it around at some point, otherwise we’re not going to be able to continue to play him,” said Luhnow of his struggling center fielder. The timing of Gomez’s struggles is particularly problematic for him as an individual, as he’s slated to hit free agency at season’s end. Gomez entered the season second on MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings but dropped to fifth on May 2 and is hitting just .122/.234/.195 since that writing.
- Athletics ace Sonny Gray has been shelled in his past three starts, yielding a total of 18 runs in 12 2/3 innings, but he tells MLB.com’s Jane Lee that he made a mechanical adjustment late in Sunday’s rough outing that he feels will halt the struggles. “I’ve constantly been leaving the ball up, and you can tell,” said Gray. “It was literally just a visual thing to get the ball back down, and you could tell there, when it’s back down, it’s got great life on it, and you start to see the swing and misses.” Catcher Stephen Vogt echoed that Gray’s movement and location were much better following an Evan Longoria home run, as Gray set down five of the final six he faced. Whether Gray has indeed righted the ship remains to be seen, though it’s worth noting that his velocity isn’t demonstrably worse than it at this time last season. Getting Gray back on track is paramount for an A’s club that currently sits at 16-22 — six games out of the division lead.
- Lee also writes that A’s manager Bob Melvin confirmed yesterday that Ryan Madson is indeed his closer — an arrangement that has appeared obvious for quite some time but hadn’t been explicitly stated by anyone with the club. Former closer Sean Doolittle had some struggles early in the season, but he’s bounced back with a 1.93 ERA and an 11-to-3 K/BB ratio in 9 1/3 innings since mid-April. That success notwithstanding, it seems the closer’s role is Madson’s job to lose at this point. “I think at this point in time, Madson is probably the guy we’re looking to,” said Melvin. Madson, who inked a three-year, $22MM deal with Oakland this offseason that caught many in the industry by surprise, has a 1.08 ERA through 16 2/3 innings, though he’s seen his strikeout, walk and ground-ball rates all trend in the wrong direction this season. (A reminder that those monitoring closer situations for fantasy baseball purposes can follow @closernews on Twitter, where we at MLBTR will keep you up to date on the latest ninth-inning news and trends.)
- The thin free agent pitching market could lead to more trades for arms this summer, as ESPN’s Jim Bowden (subscription required) notes in his listing of eight contenders who could deal for pitching and 10 starters who could be shopped. Bowden’s list of starters including two Athletics (Hill and Sonny Gray) and three Padres (James Shields, Drew Pomeranz and Andrew Cashner). The A’s have been adamant about keeping Gray, though with his rough start, Bowden wonders if the club could decide to move him while he still has value. As for the Padres, a scout tells Bowden that of the three San Diego pichers, he would prefer to have Pomeranz, which is a sign of just how much Pomeranz has upped his trade value with his impressive start — a 1.80 ERA and 51 strikeouts through 40 innings.
Athletics first baseman/outfielder Mark Canha is weighing surgery to repair a hip impingement, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Undergoing the procedure would keep him out the rest of the way, per the report, but he’s still undecided and will seek a second opinion. It seems that he’ll at least try out a cortisone shot before going under the knife. The 27-year-old had a strong 2015 season, sticking as a Rule 5 pick, but has come out of the gates with a meager .122/.140/.341 slash in 44 plate appearances in 2016.
- Athletics first baseman/outfielder Mark Canha is heading back to the Bay Area tomorrow and will undergo an MRI on his left hip, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Canha says he feels fine when running, but hitting is currently “excruciating,” adding that he can’t get any rotation in his hips and as such cannot swing very hard at the moment. “You don’t want to hope for something bad like a labrum tear to come up but at the same time, I want an answer about what’s wrong so we can pinpoint the problem,” said the 27-year-old. Canha has gotten off to a dreadful start to the season, hitting .122/.140/.341 in 44 plate appearances , though the hip troubles certainly help to explain the downturn in his productivity. He was placed on the disabled list today.
- MLB.com’s Jane Lee writes that right-hander Liam Hendriks, also placed on the DL by the Athletics today, will receive an MRI on his right elbow as well. Hendriks explained that he’s having difficulty getting full extension on his arm and has periodically experienced pain in the elbow since undergoing surgery to remove bone chips a few years ago.
- The Athletics optioned right-hander Jesse Hahn back to Triple-A this weekend in favor of reliever J.B. Wendelken, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. It’s expected that right-hander Henderson Alvarez, signed to a one-year deal after being non-tendered by the Marlins this winter, will ultimately step into that rotation spot. However, manager Bob Melvin said yesterday that Alvarez needs another pair of rehab starts, which could lead to left-hander Eric Surkamp getting a spot start when the fifth spot in the rotation comes up next.
- Having seemingly come from out of nowhere to where he is now — a quality starter for the Athletics — Rich Hill’s back story remains of interest. According to Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, Hill showed plenty of signs back when he caught the southpaw in the upper minors, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. “The stuff for a left-hander, I always thought was something you don’t see much with the type of pitches he could throw,” said Wieters.
Athletics righty Chris Bassitt is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, the club announced (h/t to MLB.com’s Jane Lee, on Twitter). That had seemed the likely result, though player and team were holding out hope of avoiding a full replacement of his ulnar collateral ligament.
Bassitt, who came to Oakland as part of the Jeff Samardzija swap, had a promising campaign in 2015. Over 86 innings, working mostly from the rotation, Bassitt pitched to a 3.56 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 to go with a 44.5% groundball rate. While he may have been a bit fortunate to allow only a 5.7% HR/FB rate, the overall results had Bassitt’s stock trending up.
Things didn’t break right this year, however. He allowed nine walks in 19 1/3 spring innings, but had three solid outings to open the regular season. But Bassitt was knocked around in his final two starts, allowing 13 earned runs on 19 hits and five walks in just 8 2/3 frames. A velocity drop in his most recent appearance, along with other issues Bassitt experienced, led to a closer look and the diagnosis of a UCL tear.
Entering the season, Bassitt had a very slightly elevated statistical risk of needing a TJ procedure, according to the research of MLBTR contributor Bradley Woodrum. Certainly, nothing about his situation raised any obvious red flags. But as Woodrum explains, the numbers paint nothing approaching a complete picture of the true risk, and obviously any pitcher can end up needing a new UCL.
Fortunately for Oakland, there is a good bit of rotation depth on hand. Top prospect Sean Manaea looks set to receive a lengthy trial, righty Jesse Hahn is now back in the majors, and Henderson Alvarez is on the mend from shoulder surgery.