7:45pm: A’s manager Bob Melvin suggested to reporters that Doolittle could be facing an extended absence (link via MLB.com’s Jane Lee).
“We’ve seen this over the course of the last couple of years, that when this pops up, we need to be careful with him,” said Melvin. “I don’t know this is going to be a quick thing. This is a tough loss for us. … Obviously we have our fingers crossed, but my guess is we’re going to be conservative with him.”
2:38pm: The Athletics have announced a series of roster moves involving their bullpen. Lefty Sean Doolittle has been placed on the 10-day DL with what the team is describing as a shoulder strain, while righty Cesar Valdez was designated for assignment.
Oakland will promote two righties to take the open roster spots. Bobby Wahl and Josh Smith are each headed to the majors for the first time this year — and the first time ever in Wahl’s case. The 25-year-old Wahl (Oakland’s No. 18 prospect, per MLB.com) will bring an upper-90s heater that occasionally reaches triple digits to the Oakland ’pen. Wahl has a history of missing bats at a lofty rate but has struggled to limit walks. Smith, meanwhile, has a career 5.46 ERA in 92 1/3 innings with the Reds but was sporting an outrageous 21-to-3 K/BB ratio through 13 2/3 innings at Triple-A this season.
[Related: Oakland Athletics Depth Chart]
It’s rough news for Doolittle, who has dealt with frequent arm issues in recent seasons but had been in fine form thus far. The 32-year-old has allowed three earned runs on five hits and a single walk through his 7 2/3 frames, while retiring 11 batters via strikeout. Doolittle had been in at least a partial share of the team’s closing duties in Oakland, but it seems likely now that fellow veteran Santiago Casilla will handle the vast majority of ninth-inning duties with Doolittle on the shelf.
Injuries are nothing new for Doolittle, who has generally been excellent when healthy but has had durability issues since inking a five-year, $10.5MM extension with Oakland that spans the 2014-18 seasons. The former infielder is earning a reasonable $2.6MM salary in 2017, and he’s guaranteed $4.35MM in 2018 as well (plus a $500K buyout of a $6MM option for 2019). Since signing that deal, Doolittle has had four separate DL stints for shoulder troubles (including this latest trip).
As for the 32-year-old Valdez, he returned to the Majors this season for the first time since the 2010 campaign — a fairly remarkable layoff from which to return. Valdez appeared in four games with the A’s, including one start, but was tagged for 10 runs on 14 hits and four walks with just five strikeouts in a total of 9 1/3 innings. It seems likely that he’ll be able to clear waivers and remain with the organization as a depth option for later in the season.