Athletics

Jake Diekman says MLB coronavirus testing delays 'just can't happen'

Jake Diekman says MLB coronavirus testing delays 'just can't happen'

Jake Diekman was happy to finally be back on the field with position players on Tuesday. It had been the first time he’s thrown off of a dirt mound against hitters in four months. 

The A’s reliever threw 10 pitches to outfielder Ramón Laureano, who was “locked in.”

“[Laureano] said it was a ball, but it was a strike,” Diekman quipped in a Zoom interview with reporters.

Diekman felt good, but there were more pressing matters on his mind.

The A's reliever remained outspoken about the delay in coronavirus testing results, which put a postponement and cancelation on some MLB team’s workouts, including the A’s.

He let out a small chuckle when asked if his frustrations have lessened since discussing potentially opting out

"Testing still is very, very slow," he said. "What -- there are two teams, maybe more than that -- that aren't even going out on the field today? That just can't happen. I have no idea what else to say."

"This is the first time they've probably ever done this, this lab is probably getting anywhere -- I have no idea how many they're getting a week, I read somewhere it's like 15,000 -- so if they've never done that, I can't do math in my head right, but I don't know how many you have to do in a day. I know they're trying their hardest, but I don't know if that's good enough for right now."

Diekman said it was worrisome specifically should the team go on a road trip. If there was a situation where they would only get results at one time, "that's not very good with 45-50 people in the clubhouse at a time," he explained.

He doesn't believe he's alone in the sentiment, either.

"When I said that I think that there's a little part in everyone's mind that thinks this whole thing is going to get shut down, I think everyone has a little bit of fear, they might not say it, but there's a little bit of fear that might happen -- because if they don't get this figured out, I mean -- you can't have teams not practicing a day or two in a row and we have two weeks until the regular season starts. There's just no way that should happen. 

"I feel that you have to be something of a realist."

Diekman also wanted to make sure that those around him, including players and everyone involved in the season, takes the necessary precautions to stay safe during the season.

"You can get every single essential item delivered to your house. If you can't do it for 90 days, I honestly don't know if I really want to talk to you," he said. "We want to play like, tomorrow. I want to play no matter what. The only way I won't play is if this whole thing gets shut down."

"I hope they get the testing figured out," he continued. "I don't want it to be the 24th [of July] and they just bang the whole thing. That's how I feel. I'm going to get a lot of s--t for this, but I don't really care. We have to get testing more than three or four days out. Otherwise, the entire clubhouse will be affected on a 10-day road trip."

[RELATED: Everything you need to know about A's 2020 restart]

Star rookie pitcher Jesús Luzardo reportedly tested positive for coronavirus, as the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser reported Tuesday. While he will be self-isolated for 14 days, Diekman said he hadn't personally spoken to Luzardo since the news of his results came out and didn't want to comment any further than that. 

A's vs. Rangers live stream: How to watch MLB games online, on TV

A's vs. Rangers live stream: How to watch MLB games online, on TV

The A's return home ending their brief road trip to Seattle on a high note.

Oakland took three out of four from the Mariners, including an 11-1 rout on Monday where they were buoyed by an eight-run inning and Khris Davis' first home run of the season.

The A's (6-4) open a three-game set against the visiting Texas Rangers (3-5) on Tuesday, who are staying in the Bay Area after losing two out of three to the San Francisco Giants over the weekend.

Here's how you can watch the A's play the Rangers online (download the MyTeams app here!) and on TV:

Tuesday, Aug. 4

When: A's Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 6:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California
Stream: MyTeams app

Wednesday, Aug. 5

When: A's Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 6:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California
Stream: MyTeams app

Thursday, Aug. 6

When: A's Pregame Live at Noon PT -- First pitch at 12:40 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports California
Stream: MyTeams app

A's Burch Smith shows off 'nasty' stuff in another 'fantastic' outing

A's Burch Smith shows off 'nasty' stuff in another 'fantastic' outing

Burch Smith has bounced around six teams thus far through his MLB career, but it appears he has found a home with the A's.

The 30-year-old right-handed reliever has been has been practically unhittable coming out of Oakland's bullpen this season, and he had his most impressive performance yet in Wednesday's 6-4 win over the Texas Rangers.

Smith came on in relief of starter Sean Manaea, who ran into trouble in the fourth and departed with runners on first and third after allowing three runs in the inning. Smith got Scott Heineman to pop out to second and Shin-Soo Choo to flyout to left to get back in the dugout without further damage.

He was just getting started, though. Smith would go on to retire all 10 batters he faced -- on 33 pitches -- stifling the Rangers' offense and allowing the A's to get back into the game. 

"Burch Smith did a fantastic job for us today," A's manager Bob Melvin said following the win. "At times, you gotta pick somebody up and Birch picked Sean up tonight."

"I don't know what it looked like before, but since we saw him in summer camp to this point, it has been the same stuff," Melvin added. "Gives you multiple innings, got up four times today, had to come in and rescue an inning -- that's a lot for a reliever. But didn't lose his velocity, didn't lose his effectiveness. I wasn't sure we were gonna get that far with him but we did, so his confidence just has to keep growing. For a guy that has missed some time, obviously, because of injuries, he has done a terrific job for us."

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Including Wednesday's performance, opposing hitters are just 3-for-25 against Smith this season with one walk and six strikeouts. Afterwards, multiple teammates used the same word to describe his pitch arsenal.

"Nasty," Manaea said of Smith. "He has come in each time and shut the door. I didn't really get to see him during spring training, so the first time I saw him, I thought it was just absolutely disgusting stuff."

"Burch is nasty," catcher Austin Allen explained. "He has got that fastball that -- it just spins. It has got that spin rate, what everybody talks about now, and he can throw his curveball and changeup at any point, too. He's definitely one of those guys that's coming out of the bullpen and he's going to attack hitters, and like you saw tonight, he has got the stuff to succeed."

[RELATED: Kaval explains reasoning behind A's lawsuit against DTSC]

Smith is off to the best start of his career, but it's not like he's the only reliever dominating right now. After Wednesday's win, the A's bullpen has posted a 1.90 ERA across 52 innings this season.

"It's pretty easy," Allen said of catching the various relievers. "Whoever comes in, we're just attacking hitters and they're going after them with their one-two punch. Shoutout to those guys, and every pitcher that we have. They've been keeping us in games when the offense hasn't really been clicking and stuff, so they've been doing a great job."

The A's got Smith in a trade with the San Francisco Giants back in February in exchange for cash considerations. Safe to say, that has been money well spent.