Athletics left-hander Sean Manaea, already reported to be “well ahead of schedule” in his rehab from shoulder surgery, has taken another step forward, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). Manaea has begun throwing from 90 feet and has already had multiple throwing sessions from that distance. While the Athletics initially feared that their top starter would miss the entire 2019 season after undergoing surgery late in the 2018 campaign, Manaea is now optimistically targeting a return around the All-Star break. There’s obviously quite a bit that can go wrong between now and then, but the accelerated timeline is a welcome revelation for the A’s and their fans, especially considering the patchwork status of their rotation. Currently, Mike Fiers, Brett Anderson and Marco Estrada are the only established starters on the roster, with right-handers Frankie Montas and Aaron Brooks slated to round out the bunch. Oakland’s starting pitching outlook became a bit more bleak last week when uber-prospect Jesus Luzardo was shut down for four to six weeks due to shoulder concerns.
Here’s more from the division…
- Shohei Ohtani took on-field batting practice for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last year, writes Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times. Angels general manager Billy Eppler indicated that Ohtani felt good after his BP session, and there’s no indication that the May timeline the Angels placed on his return as a designated hitter has changed. Ohtani will still need to face live pitching and surely will complete a minor league rehab assignment before jumping back into the fray, but his progress in a return to the batter’s box continues to be encouraging.
- Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels spoke about the decision to designate flamethrowing right-hander Connor Sadzeck for assignment earlier today (link via MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan), acknowledging that it was a difficult decision. Daniels feels there’s a “decent” chance that Sadzeck would be claimed if he’s run through waivers, given that he can reach triple digits with his fastball, but there’s also a chance the Rangers can find a trade partner for the out-of-options righty, per Daniels. “It wasn’t a slight on him,” said Daniels of the DFA. “We felt if we had more time, we probably would have taken it. It’s unfortunate because I really like the kid. He did everything we asked. … He has high-end ability, but where it was, it was inconsistent.” Given the Rangers’ rebuilding status, it’s a bit curious that they wouldn’t find a way to keep a pitcher whose arm seems to genuinely intrigue the organization, but Daniels sounds resigned to the fact that the righty may very well land elsewhere within the next week.