Athletics

Athletics

OAKLAND – The starting rotation has been a strength for the A’s through the season’s first week, but it’s worth considering how much the makeup of the starting staff can change over the next couple of months.

Monday’s news that Felix Doubront will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery underscores that idea. The A’s have depth, and they probably won’t wait that long to go to it if need be. Doubront was the expected No. 5 starter, but with him out of the picture long-term, here’s a thumbnail sketch of all the candidates to make a significant impact on Oakland’s rotation sooner or later:

Eric Surkamp -- The lefty is currently holding down the No. 5 spot after putting himself on the map in spring training. Surkamp held his own in his season debut at Seattle, going 4 1/3 innings and allowing two runs. If not for an error, he probably would have stayed in the game longer. His next start comes Wednesday against the Angels.

“Whenever you come in as the fifth guy, you have to perform,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said Monday. “I wouldn’t say one bad start (moving forward) is going to get him knocked out of it, but it’s a performance-based industry and you’re always looking to have to perform, because you know there’s somebody behind you waiting to take your turn.”

Jesse Hahn -- It was a shocker when Hahn pitched his way out of the rotation with a rocky spring. But there’s a feeling within the organization that he could be back soon if he shows consistency with Triple-A Nashville. Hahn got off to a nice start with the Sounds on Friday, throwing six shutout innings and allowing two hits against Oklahoma City.

 

Sean Manaea -- Lots of fans understandably are curious and excited about the prospects of the 6-foot-5 Manaea making his big league debut. He’s the A’s No. 1 pitching prospect and made a great impression during the spring. The A’s won’t rush him, and yet they won’t hold him back either if he shows dominance in the Pacific Coast League. Manaea made his Triple-A debut Monday night and allowed just one run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out six and didn’t issue a walk.

Melvin was asked how closely he’ll keep track of Manaea’s starts for Nashville.

“Tonight, I’ll follow it,” he said without hesitation.

Henderson Alvarez -- He appears last on this list because he has yet to even begin a minor league rehab assignment, but by season’s end, Alvarez might be making the biggest impact for Oakland out of these four names. He was a key signing in the offseason after he was non-tendered by the Marlins. He is still recovering from shoulder surgery he underwent last July, but Alvarez was set to throw his second simulated game Monday (which was to take place in Stockton. Melvin didn’t have the results Monday night). Alvarez is a top-of-the-rotation talent, so when he proves he’s 100 percent and builds his pitch count up by late May or early June, expect him to enter the A’s rotation immediately.

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In case you missed it, here’s my story from last night on the reaction of A’s players to taking a plane home from Seattle on Sunday that was branded with the Giants logo. Sean Doolittle takes things in the right spirit, that’s for sure...