Athletics

A's pitcher Sean Manaea is 'feeling great' following shoulder surgery

A's pitcher Sean Manaea is 'feeling great' following shoulder surgery

OAKLAND - When Sean Manaea underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery in Septemeber, the expectation was that he would miss most, if not all, of the 2019 season.

Now, less than five months later, the A's are optimistic their talented left-hander could return sometime around the All-Star Break.

"I'm feeling great," Manaea told NBC Sports California. "This time compared to last year is 100 times better than how I felt. The surgery definitely fixed pretty much everything that was going on with my shoulder."

That's an incredible statement, considering Manaea went 12-9 with a 3.59 ERA and 1.08 WHIP last season. He even tossed a no-hitter against the future World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

Yet it appears Manaea, who turned 27 Friday, could come back even stronger following his rehab.

"Sean feels really good," said A's general manager David Forst. "Everyone's happy with his range of motion, his strength, all those things. He's not throwing yet. Once he starts playing catch, that will give us an idea of how quickly he can be progressed. But I think there's reason to believe Sean will pitch at some point this season."

Added Manaea: "Overall, I'm really happy with where I'm at right now, just in the rehab process. Hopefully I can start throwing soon, and hopefully my shoulder holds up and I don't really have any problems down the road. But I'm prepared for anything and just taking it one day at a time."

Manaea admits the process hasn't been easy, but he has tried to remain positive throughout his recovery. He has also tried to find other ways to improve his game

"It's been a long offseason but I'm glad I'm going through this and kind of stepping away for a little bit, gathering my thoughts, taking a mental break away from baseball, and really just figuring out the things I need to work on. That's what I'm taking this time off to do - working on mechanics, all these different things."

[RELATED: Check out A's new 'Wild Elephant' spring training hat]

Manaea knows he could be a valuable addition to the A's rotation for the second half of the season. That thought keeps him motivated during his rehab.

"It’s definitely a goal, and I think it's very attainable to come back at some point this season, whenever that may be. Every day, I'm starting to get that image in my head of pitching at the Coliseum. It makes the rehab a little bit easier. I'm just really excited to be (back)."

MLB rumors: Russell Martin draws free-agent interest from A’s, others

russellmartindodgersflexingusatsi.jpg
USATSI

MLB rumors: Russell Martin draws free-agent interest from A’s, others

The A's are searching high and low for a veteran catcher.

Oakland struck on in their pursuit of Matt Wieters, and now they've reportedly turned their attention to Russell Martin.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported on Thursday that the A's are among several teams that have "checked in on" the veteran catcher.

Martin, 37, spent the 2019 season with the Dodgers, his original organization. In 83 games, he slashed .200/.337/.330 with five doubles, six homers and 20 RBI.

The A's have three catchers on the 40-man roster -- Sean Murphy, Austin Allen and Jonah Heim -- and all three of them are rookies.

Murphy is expected to the opening day starter and will get a majority of the playing time. But it still makes sense for the A's to sign a veteran catcher to mentor the prized prospect.

[RELATED: A's have plenty of outfield options]

As Heyman points out, Martin is not ready to sign with a team right now. But when he is, the A's should make a strong push to add him to the roster.

A's have plenty of outfield options should Stephen Piscotty miss time

grossmanusatsi.jpg
USATSI

A's have plenty of outfield options should Stephen Piscotty miss time

The A's will march through spring training without Stephen Piscotty, who was formally shut down Friday with an intercostal strain. Manager Bob Melvin said the veteran would be out indefinitely, though he didn’t rule out a return by Opening Day.

Piscotty starting that March 26 home game is far from certain, but him missing a few games to start the season isn’t a massive blow.

Why? The A's have tons of outfield depth.

Ramon Laureano and Mark Cahna would take up two spots, with Robbie Grossman able to fill in well and play consistently. He played 138 games for the A's last year and Oakland re-signed him in free agency. Chad Pinder can play every position and is comfortable working from the grass. Second baseman Tony Kemp has experience out there, too.

P.S. All those guys can field. All of those guys can hit.

Plan A obviously is having Piscotty play soon and play a ton. He’s a quality all-around player and valued clubhouse presence. There are plenty of alternatives.

“[The outfield] looked really crowded, and that’s a good problem to have,” Melvin told reporters on Friday, via MLB.com. “But the more you do this, the more you realize how important depth is. Not only with pitching, but with position players. It’s very rare now that you get through spring training healthy.

"Things have changed a bit in how you deal with spring training. It’s about getting off the field healthy. We do have some depth there.”

[RELATED: Why Melvin is confident Khrush will bounce back this season]

That will allow the A’s to be patient with a regular starter. They can let him get fully healed and ramp up accordingly, into the regular season if necessary. If he starts on the injured list -- that’s a massive “if” at this stage -- it could open a roster spot for an outfield prospect.

At the very least it means more spring training at-bats for promising players in major league camp like Seth Brown, who has some power, or Dustin Fowler, who's trying to reclaim an MLB gig. Skye Bolt is another option.

The A’s could choose to replace Piscotty with another outfielder in a straight position swap, or they could evaluate prospects from other positions considering how much outfield depth already is set to make the club.