- Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray could be one more rehab start away from making his 2017 big league debut, relays Joe Stiglich of NBC Sports California (video link). According to manager Bob Melvin, the A’s will “have a decision to make” on Gray after he takes the mound for Triple-A Nashville on Thursday. Gray, who’s on the mend from a lat strain, threw five scoreless, one-hit innings Saturday for Single-A Stockton, saying afterward that he had “no limitations” (Twitter link via Shea).
The Athletics have acquired outfielder Ryan LaMarre from the Angels in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, as per announcements from both teams. In a related move, the A’s moved right-hander Chris Bassitt to the 60-day DL to create roster space. Los Angeles designated LaMarre for assignment earlier this week when catcher Juan Graterol was acquired in a trade with Toronto. LaMarre, 28, signed a Major League deal with the Halos this winter but began the season at Triple-A.
Originally a second-round pick for the Reds in the 2010 draft, LaMarre has a .267/.345/.381 slash line over 2695 career plate appearances in the minors, plus 27 games in the big leagues with the Reds and Red Sox from 2015-16. He has primarily played as a center fielder during his career, so LaMarre provides the A’s with some versatile outfield depth at the minor league level.
The 60-day DL placement means that Bassitt can’t return to Oakland’s roster under June, even though an early return didn’t seem possible anyway given that Bassitt underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2016. The righty was reported to be making good progress in his recovery as of two weeks ago, though Bassitt is obviously still in need of a lengthy rehab stint in the minors.
- The White Sox, Padres, Cardinals, Reds and Astros are among the favorites to sign Robert, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes, echoing previous reports. Sanchez also lists the Athletics as a possibility, noting that the A’s have spent heavily on international talent (including Cuban outfielder Lazaro Armenteros) since July and have “strong interest” in Robert. Sanchez further notes that the A’s took the rest of MLB by surprise by signing another Cuban outfield phenom, Yoenis Cespedes, in 2012. Sanchez also tweets that A’s GM David Forst and other team officials are in the Dominican to scout Robert.
- Athletics prospect Daulton Jefferies will undergo Tommy John surgery, Scout.com’s Melissa Lockard writes. Jeffries was the 37th overall pick in last year’s draft out of UC-Berkeley despite missing part of the 2016 season due to a shoulder injury. The righty made five brief starts in rookie ball last year and had made two appearances with Class A+ Stockton this season. MLB.com currently rates him at the Athletics’ No. 8 prospect, praising his athleticism and delivery and noting he could eventually become a No. 4-type starter in the big leagues.
- Yesterday, the Athletics promoted 1B/OF Matt Olson and optioned righty Cesar Valdez to the minors, MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweeted. Olson gives the A’s an extra bench option, with Valdez heading to the minors after a spot start Thursday (a start that was, remarkably, his first big-league action since he was with Arizona in 2010). Once one of the Athletics’ top prospects, Olson’s stock has fallen somewhat as he’s risen through the system, but he still has an impressive 105 career minor-league home runs, and his abilities to play first and right field, and perhaps third base in a pinch, could help the A’s.
Here are the day’s minor moves from around the league…
- Veteran right-hander Jim Miller has retired from playing (Twitter link). The 34-year-old, who last saw the Majors in 2015, was a reliable member of the Athletics’ bullpen back in 2012 when he tossed 48 2/3 innings with a 2.59 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 5.0 BB/9. Miller never saw much action outside of that stint, though, as he logged a total of 67 1/3 innings in the Majors with a 3.48 ERA. Miller, a veteran 13 minor league seasons, was with the Twins in Spring Training but has now decided to pursue opportunities in player development.
- The Athletics announced Thursday that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Cesar Valdez, who started tonight’s game for them. In order to clear a 40-man roster spot, they moved Marcus Semien, who is recovering from surgery to repair a fractured wrist, to the 60-day disabled list. Catcher Bruce Maxwell was optioned out to Triple-A to clear room on the active roster for Valdez. The 32-year-old Valdez’s appearance tonight somewhat remarkably represents his first Major League action since the 2010 campaign, when he made nine appearances (two starts) for the Diamondbacks. Valdez has just 20 Major League innings under his belt but has a 4.40 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 over the life of nearly 400 Triple-A innings in his career.
April 20: Semien has had the surgery and is in a cast for another five days, after which he’ll be placed in a splint, tweets MLB.com’s Jane Lee. While initial timeline suggestions were that he’d be reevaluated in six weeks, Lee relays a slightly more optimistic schedule, noting that his reevaluation will now come in four to six weeks.
April 17: Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien will require surgery to repair a fracture of the scaphoid bone in his right wrist, MLB.com’s Jane Lee was among those to report on Twitter. There’s no known timeline at present, but Semien won’t even be reevaluated until about six weeks after the procedure.
It’s tough news for the A’s, who were hoping the 26-year-old could continue to make strides and blossom into a high-quality regular in 2017. That’s still possible, of course, but first he’ll have to work back from this injury.
Semien broke out in the power department last year, but didn’t reach base very often while carrying a pedestrian walk rate. This year, he has already taken ten walks in 46 plate appearances, though he also has just two extra-base hits (both doubles) in the early going.
For the time being, Adam Rosales and Chad Pinder figure to share time at shortstop. Oakland won’t yet go to top young talent Franklin Barreto, who is embarking upon his first full season at Triple-A, though he could become a factor at some point too.
- Lefty Felix Doubront is still rehabbing for the Athletics, but there are already plans to make a change when he returns. Doubront will return in a relief role, GM David Forst told reporters including MLB.com’s Jane Lee (via Twitter). The 29-year-old has mostly functioned as a starter in the bigs, though he does have experience working from the pen as well. Doubront could return from his Tommy John surgery by June, per the report.
Athletics right-hander Kendall Graveman has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to this past Saturday, due to a strained right shoulder, per a club announcement. Catcher Bruce Maxwell has been recalled from Triple-A to fill Graveman’s spot on the 25-man roster. While A’s fans are undoubtedly disheartened to see the 26-year-old Graveman land on the shelf, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that there are no indications that the injury is severe. Slusser notes that she’d be surprised to see Graveman miss more than one start, so it seems that Oakland is merely taking advantage of the shortened minimum stay on the DL to help keep the roster full while Graveman recovers.
A few more injury notes from around the game…
- Mets righty Seth Lugo is set to begin a throwing program after taking two weeks off, per The Record’s Matt Ehalt (Twitter link). Lugo, who is hoping to avoid surgery after being diagnosed with a partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, will begin his program by throwing from 60 feet. Ehalt adds. Lugo and southpaw Steven Matz are both presently on the DL for the Mets, which has considerably thinned out the club’s rotation depth.
- Chris Tillman was able to make his first rehab start yesterday, appearing with the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate, as Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun reports. Though he says he is still having trouble getting his problematic shoulder loose, he says he’s “good to go” once he’s able to do so. Tillman suggested he is learning to deal with the constraints of the balky joint, though how that’ll work out at the game’s highest level is anyone’s guess. The righty sat in the upper eighties with his fastball yesterday, though he did top out at 91 — which is where he typically works. So long as he’s able to rebound from this first outing, Tillman will continue to increase his pitch count in further rehab starts.
- The back issues that have slowed the rehab progress of Rangers’ righty Tyson Ross are still hanging around, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports on Twitter. Since he has yet to return to the mound, it now seems that his early-May target to return to the majors will move back by at least a week or two. Ross had seemed to be nearing a full recovery from thoracic outlet surgery when the seemingly minor back issue cropped up.
Khris Davis has only been with the Athletics since a trade in the 2015-16 offseason, but the outfielder has fully embraced the organization and tells Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports that he’d love to stay there long term. “It’s been something I could make my own, and I saw it as an opportunity to build something,” says Davis. “There’s a lot to do there, and I feel like I can be a piece of this organization for a long time. … The Coliseum isn’t pretty. But I love going there. I love playing there. I love Oakland.” Passan’s profile of Davis kicks off his latest 10 Degrees column an provides an intriguing look inside a player that describes himself as “a little weird” and “a little quirky.” A’s fans will definitely want to check it out, and the full column, which examines the increasing power numbers throughout the league, holds more widespread appeal and is well worth a look.
- The Athletics have placed shortstop Marcus Semien on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Saturday, with a right wrist contusion and recalled infielder Chad Pinder from Triple-A (depth chart). It’s possible Semien has a fracture, but the A’s will know more after he undergoes a CT scan on Monday, tweets Joe Stiglich of NBC Sports California. Semien’s wrist has been acting up since last month, which has likely contributed to the 26-year-old’s lack of power early this season. After homering 27 times and posting a .197 ISO last year, Semien has shown almost no pop in his first 46 PAs of 2017 (zero HRs, .057 ISO).