It is now widely agreed upon that the Oakland A’s are one of – if not the best team in baseball. They have the best record in the MLB, they are first in overall runs scored, and their bullpen has been dominate throughout the first half of the season. However, the players are starting to get worn down. Numerous Athletics have incurred injuries over these past few weeks, which is hurting the bullpen and lineup.
Even though most of the pitcher injuries occurred during spring training and in the first month of the season, starter Drew Pomeranz punched a wooden chair after a frustrating outing back in mid-June and fractured his right hand. He was subsequently placed on the 15-day disabled list.
However, July 2nd is day 15 and Pomeranz still cannot wear a glove on his right hand since it has not healed enough yet. There has been talk that the Athletics’ could be looking to trade him, especially since they already replaced Pomeranz with Brad Mills and there is a possibility that they would need to make room for lefty reliever Eric O’Flaherty who is rumored to be brought up to Oakland within the week.
Another pitcher who is injured per say but is not worrisome is Scott Kazmir. Kazmir leads the Oakland A’s bullpen with the lowest ERA at 2.61, but on Monday night he was pulled from the game in the sixth inning when cramping occurred in his calf. Even though Kazmir is expected to make his next start, he is injury prone and many are hoping that his cramping episode does not lead to a more serious injury down the road.
Since the bullpen went through its fair share of injuries in the spring, it is now the lineup’s turn. First off, slugger Yoenis Cespedes left Monday nights game with suspected cramping like Kazmir. However, it is now reported that Cespedes had left hamstring tightness, which cost him his spot in the lineup for Tuesday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers. Cespedes was on a roll before his injury and had a 14-game hitting streak. This 2013 Home Run Derby Champion believes he will be back soon and let’s hope that is true since he had a .324 batting average and .491 slugging for the month of June. His bat is required in the lineup if the Athletics want to succeed offensively.
Another injured player whose bat greatly effects the Oakland A’s offense is catcher Derek Norris. Norris – who is usually known for his defensive skills behind the plate – has had a red hot bat this season. However, he has not been in the lineup for four straight games after suffering some back tightness. Since he has had back issues in the past, it probably does not help that he was hit in the back of the head and neck area by numerous batters’ backswings during the month of June. Right now he is day-to-day and could be back in the lineup this week if all goes according to plan. With a .304 AVG and .509 SLG so far this season, Norris’ bat would be greatly appreciated back in the lineup.
Outfielder Josh Reddick is currently on the DL with a strained right knee. This was mostly an aggravation of a previously hyperextended knee injury. Reddick’s Gold Glove defense in the outfield is definitely missed, but he probably will not be returning for another two weeks. Luckily, his MRI revealed that he does not need surgery – just a lot of rest – before coming back on the field.
Lastly, there is Kyle Blanks. Blanks went on the 15-day disabled list on June 23rd with a left calf strain. Even though he is a third string first baseman, his absence does take some depth away from the Oakland A’s dugout. It has been reported recently that he is still having trouble when it comes to running however he is fine on the stationary bike and when it comes to catching and throwing the baseball. With the trade deadline fast approaching and Nate Freiman – a first baseman recently brought up from Triple-A Sacramento – producing for the Athletics, there is a chance that Blanks could be traded for a second time this season after being acquired by the A’s in early May.
It will be interesting to see how these injuries will effect trade decisions since there are only four weeks till the trade deadline. Some of the more prominent players like Reddick and Cespedes will definitely stay with the Oakland A’s. But lesser producing players could find themselves in Triple-A or on another team’s roster come July 31st.