MARCH 5: Today’s visit to Dr. Neil ElAttrache confirmed that Puk has no structural damage in the shoulder, manager Bob Melvin told reporters (including Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle). The southpaw figures to resume throwing in the next few days, Melvin added.
MARCH 3: The Athletics have temporarily shut down left-hander A.J. Puk because of a mild shoulder strain, manager Bob Melvin said Tuesday (via Martin Gallegos of MLB.com). Fortunately for both sides, an MRI didn’t reveal any structural damage, per Gallegos, who adds that the A’s will re-evaluate Puk on Thursday or Friday.
This doesn’t look like a serious injury at this point, but it’s a bit scary for an Oakland rotation that has dealt with constant issues over the past couple years. Puk wasn’t immune to those troubles prior to Thursday, as the prized 24-year-old missed all of 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and then sat out the majority of last season while recovering. He did work his way back late in the year, though, returning to make an impressive major league debut across 11 2/3 innings from the A’s bullpen. The towering Puk (6-foot-7) averaged just over 97 mph on his fastball during that brief showing.
Now, if he is healthy enough to begin the year in the bigs, Puk should be in line to open the season from the A’s rotation. The back-to-back playoff club boasts plenty of talent in that area, though the A’s fought no shortage of injuries in their starting staff during those two seasons. If all goes well over the next few weeks, Oakland figures to start 2020 with Puk complementing Frankie Montas, Sean Manaea, Jesus Luzardo and Mike Fiers in its rotation.