Athletics

Matt Olson optimistic A's can fill void at first base in his absence

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Matt Olson optimistic A's can fill void at first base in his absence

OAKLAND – It really was a freak injury. One swing of the bat, a seemingly inconsequential foul ball.

But during Thursday's loss to the Seattle Mariners in Tokyo, Matt Olson knew right away something was wrong.

"I generally have a pretty high pain tolerance," the A's first baseman said Sunday. "I couldn't grip the bat when I came back (to the dugout) so I knew something was up."

It turned out Olson had fractured the hamate bone in his right hand. He underwent hamate excision surgery Friday in Los Angeles, and will be out indefinitely.

"It sucks," Olson admitted. "The timing of it is good and bad. Good because I get five or six days here to get ahead, but it sucks because it's the beginning of the year and you work all offseason to get to this point."

A's manager Bob Melvin added: "There are certain guys who you feel like are a little more replaceable than others. He's a tough one. ... He makes everybody in the infield better. All you've got to do is get it over in his direction. He's got a wide wingspan and he picks everything out of the dirt.

"It's tough not having him out there, but that's why we have a Mark Canha, a (Jurickson) Profar, and a Chad Pinder. It gives somebody else an opportunity."

Olson was not given a timetable for his return, but he noted a wide variance in other players with the same injury, anywhere from four to eight weeks. While he's obviously disappointed, he believes the team can survive without him.

"We've got guys -- Canha, Pinder, (Franklin) Barreto, and Profar -- all of those guys are very established and have good at-bats," Olson said. "They're guys who are going to get more at-bats because of it. I don't think it's a bad thing. It sucks for me, but I'm glad these guys are going to get a little more regular playing time."

[RELATED: A's have options at first base in light of Olson injury]

Although he hasn't missed any games yet, Olson joked he has already experienced the effects of sporting a cast on his right hand in his everyday life.

"I had to go to the store today to get stuff for my apartment. I got a ton of stuff. Then I got to the apartment complex, and thought I was going to have to make like five trips because I can only carry things with one hand," he laughed.

As Olson adjusts to life with just one functional hand, the A's must adjust to life without Olson's powerful bat in the lineup and his slick glove in the field. In both cases, it will be a difficult process.

Mike Fiers: 'I'm not doing anything right,' after ERA balloons to 8.28

Mike Fiers: 'I'm not doing anything right,' after ERA balloons to 8.28

OAKLAND – Mike Fiers was supposed to be the A's ace.

He certainly looked the part last season, going 5-2 with a 3.74 ERA after coming over from Detroit in early August. This year, however, has been a completely different story.

The Blue Jays treated Fiers like a punching bag Saturday afternoon, knocking the veteran right-hander around for six earned runs on nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings en route to a 10-1 victory at the Coliseum. Fiers has now allowed six earned runs in each of his last three starts and his season ERA has ballooned to 8.28.

"It's tough right now," said a dejected Fiers after Saturday's loss. "I'm just not doing anything right. That's what it feels like. For the team to be as good as we are, it's tough. It's a tough feeling to go out there and feel like you just make it harder for them every day."

The A's couldn't have seen this coming when they signed Fiers to a two-year, $14.1 million contract this offseason. The 33-year-old was coming off the best year of his career, finishing 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA between Detroit and Oakland.

"He pitched really well for us last year," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "We signed him for a reason. He's going through a rough stretch right now, but we fully expect him to go out and pitch better next time."

After an inauspicious season debut in Tokyo against the Mariners, Fiers appeared to right the ship with back-to-back outings of six innings and no earned runs. But in his three starts since then, he has surrendered 18 earned runs in just 10 innings, giving up 23 hits, including five home runs. 

"I honestly don't know," Fiers said. "I'm kind of confused on what's going on and why I'm not getting the job done. But I'm going to come to the ballpark tomorrow and I'm going to work hard and get back to how I pitch."

Fiers seemed to be rolling along through the first two innings Saturday, retiring the first six batters he faced. He gave up a run in the third and then came the disastrous fourth. Single, single, home run, home run, double. In the blink of an eye, Toronto had blown the game wide open.

"Just some balls in the middle of the plate and up," Melvin said. "There's always a fine line with him on what's up and kind of his style and where he pitches, whether it's the top of the strike zone or a little bit lower. He got some balls in the middle of the plate and they hit them hard."

[RELATED: Ex A's 2B Sogard brings 'nerd power' back to Oakland]

While it's still early in the season, Fiers knows he has to get back on track as soon as possible. At the moment, he doesn't have any answers, but he vows to find them.

"I'm going to keep working," he promised. "I'm going to keep practicing every day, working on my pitches, working on things I'm doing wrong. But I need to figure it out pretty quick."

A's Stephen Piscotty calls out fan who ran on field, tried to steal hat

A's Stephen Piscotty calls out fan who ran on field, tried to steal hat

There were a lot of runs Saturday at Oakland Coliseum, and not just by the A's and Toronto Blue Jays.

More running came from two fans who thought it'd be a good idea to interrupt the Blue Jays' 10-1 win by taking a stroll across the field.

It wasn't.

In the middle of the game, one fan made his best attempt to run on the field -- because, unfortunately, that's how people prank these days. It did not go well when he tried to escape.

He was near A's right fielder Stephen Piscotty, who talked about the weird event after the game.

"I just saw him out of the corner of my eye," Piscotty told NBC Sports California. "He was going up toward my head, probably trying to get my hat, [and] just bailed out."

[RELATED: Fans apprehended by security, umpire after running on the field]

This was new territory for Piscotty.
 
"That's the first time that's happened to me," he said. "I mean, I've seen them on the field, but I've never seen them charge a player. That's crossing the line quite a bit.

"It happened so fast, I was trying to figure out what was going on. He was clearly intoxicated or high or something. He was in a weird place."

The field is a weird place for anyone who isn't on the team. So, fans, stay off the field.