Athletics

A's place RHP Marco Estrada on IL, recall RHP Chris Bassitt from Triple-A

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A's place RHP Marco Estrada on IL, recall RHP Chris Bassitt from Triple-A

OAKLAND -- For those who watched Marco Estrada's last two starts, it probably came as no surprise when the A's announced they had placed the veteran right-hander on the 10-day injured list with a lumbar strain.

Estrada, 35, has dealt with back issues for much of his career, including last season in Toronto. He has tried to pitch through the injury this season, but it got to a point where he couldn't ignore it anymore.

"It's been (bothering me) since we went on the road," Estrada said. "It's been bothering me but I've been able to pitch with it. It kind of just flared up. ... "It's shown. The (velocity) is down. I'm not locating. I don't hit guys. I don't walk guys. I couldn't pitch yesterday."

To Estrada's point, his fastball velocity was consistently around 85 mph in Tuesday's loss to the Astros, down from an average of 89 mph last season. He has allowed 13 earned runs in his last two starts and has a 6.85 ERA for the season.

"I was kind of hoping for a miracle that it would just go away," he said. "I don't want to go on the IL but I know it's the right decision. It's something I need to get taken care of. I'm only going to hurt the team pitching this way."

"We knew coming in that these were issues he's had in the past," A's manager Bob Melvin added. "We knew when this pops up that it's probably prudent to get him a break."

Estrada will see a specialist on Friday and hopes to only miss one start, but that will obviously depend on how he responds to treatment and rest.

"It's probably going to be a manage thing for him," Melvin said. "It's something that hasn't gone away. Keeping him as healthy as we possibly can will be important and when it flares up in the fashion it did after last night's game, it just doesn't make any sense to run him out there."

Added Estrada: "I've had issues before but normally they don't last very long," he said. "They kind of just go away over time. This one, over the offseason it went away. I was feeling good. I was really excited for this year. ..."When I'm healthy, I know I can still pitch and pitch well for this team and help them win. But right now, obviously, I'm not helping them."

[RELATED: Why A's should be concerned about Estrada moving foward]

Oakland recalled right-hander Chris Bassitt from Triple-A Las Vegas to take Estrada's spot on the 25-man roster. Bassitt, 30, pitched 11 innings in three minor-league outings this season, allowing four earned runs on eight hits, with 16 strikeouts. Last season with the A's, he went 2-3 with a 3.02 ERA in 11 appearances, including seven starts.
 

Bob Melvin supports Buster Posey's decision to opt out of 2020 season

Bob Melvin supports Buster Posey's decision to opt out of 2020 season

Buster Posey took several days of Giants training camp to deal with what was termed a personal issue. It turns out he spent that time weighing whether to play baseball this season during an ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Posey announced Friday that he would opt out and explained exactly why. Turns out he has a damn good reason.

His family adopted two twin girls born July 3 at just 32 weeks. They are in the NICU now and Posey said they will be in a particularly vulnerable state for at least four months. That’s more than the entire 2020 MLB season, even if everything goes right.

Posey made an easy decision, the right one.

That’s clear to most, including A’s manager Bob Melvin.

“In his case, I don’t know why you would want to play with what’s going on there,” Melvin said in a Friday video conference. “Each guy looks at it a little differently, so I’m not surprised that some have opted out. I’m certainly not surprised about Buster, now knowing the whole story.”

While most are supportive of easy choices like Posey’s or the less straightforward, detractors have proven vocal even in a decided minority.

A’s relief pitcher Jake Diekman has a higher risk for complications if he contracts COVID-19 due to a pre-existing condition but chose to play the season. The team is cognizant of that while strictly adhering to health and safety protocols during training camp.

[RELATED: Zaidi, Kapler support Posey's decision]

Whether someone chooses to play or not, Melvin says, that player will receive backing from around the sport.

“Whoever decides to opt out will be fully supported,” Melvin said. “There’s a lot at stake right now. It’s easy once you’re out on the field and it feels great again and everyone likes playing, but the underlying factor and issues are still there. If there’s somebody who has reservations, whether it’s Jake, who says he doesn’t have any, will be fully supported and I don’t think they’ll be criticized by the baseball community.”

A's Matt Chapman adjusts personal goals in shortened 2020 MLB season

A's Matt Chapman adjusts personal goals in shortened 2020 MLB season

Matt Chapman’s always one to raise the bar. His personal and team goals continue to elevate, even after the A’s won 97 games, he hit 36 home runs and added another platinum glove.

Those achievements are awesome in a vacuum, though losing in the A.L. wild-card game (again) and a late-season offensive slump shows room for improvement for the stacked A’s and their All-Star third baseman.

Putting it all together could mean a World Series title and an MVP award, or an offensive season for the ages at the very least.

That last part, of course, assumes a 162-game season. Numbers don’t mean the same thing in a 60-game season. Chapman, therefore, has to look at his stat line differently.

“The main goal is to stay healthy, stay on the field and then just take good at bats and do my part,” Chapman said. “I’m not going to put too much stress on the season because two months is such a small sample size. If you don’t start well, your numbers are never going to be what you want them to be. I’m hopefully not going to dig into that too much. I know that’s easy to say now, but I want to focus on the team and keep guys healthy. Hopefully we can do that and just win. Our focus should be health and making the playoffs.”

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

Collectively, the A’s are focusing on winning as many games as possible in a condensed season where every game is magnified.

“I think that, from a team standpoint, the goals are still the same: win as much as we can and stress getting off to a good start,” Chapman said. “That’s extremely important now. That was our focus coming out of the spring training beforehand, but that especially key now. You can win and lose a season in two weeks it seems like, in this short schedule. You can’t fall too far behind. On the other side of it, you could also jump out to a good lead. It’s exciting because it seems like every game is going to be a playoff game.”

Chapman doesn’t have much time to ramp for this condensed 60-game season, which is now two weeks away. He has voiced displeasure over the A’s inability to start workouts at the earliest possible date, but is now focused on maximizing opportunities he has. That doesn’t mean he’s working too hard, as he and the A’s position players might have when they were finally allowed to start camp.

[RELATED: Why Chapman could win AL MVP]

It’s about working smarter in the time allotted.

“The biggest thing for me is getting quality reps and not worrying about the quantity so much and trying to play catch-up,” Chapman said. “I don’t need a million swings to get ready. I need quality swings and to avoid tiring yourself out because, when it does start, it’ll be a sprint. You can’t jam a ton into every day. We have to be smart and, right around that two-week mark [of camp], we’ll be in a good spot.”