Athletics

A’s vs. Angels lineup: Stephen Piscotty on IL; Franklin Barreto promoted

A’s vs. Angels lineup: Stephen Piscotty on IL; Franklin Barreto promoted

Stephen Piscotty's right knee sprain will keep him out of the Oakland A's lineup for at least the next 10 days.

The A's announced Saturday that the right fielder had been placed on the injured list, with Franklin Barreto called up from Triple-A Las Vegas to replace him on the roster.

Piscotty left Saturday's game in Anaheim during the sixth inning after he made an awkward slide into second base. He walked off the field with the help of A's third baseman Matt Chapman and manager Bob Melvin, and the team said Piscotty would have an MRI on the knee. Melvin updated reporters Sunday with news that the MRI would come Monday and the injury might not be as bad as it first appeared.

One year after he had a career-high 27 homers and 88 RBI, Piscotty had a .242/.306/.391 slash line with nine homers and 34 RBI in 76 games.

Barreto, who was playing well in Vegas, has a .215/.252/.424 slash line with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 58 games over three seasons with the A's. He was called up over other options such as Skye Bolt, Dustin Fowler and Nick Martini, and likely gives Oakland outfield depth, with Mark Canha taking over in right, Robbie Grossman and Chad Pinder platooning in left, and Ramón Laureano anchored in center.

Barreto immediately drew into the A’s lineup for Sunday’s series finale against the AL West rival Angels, hitting seventh and playing second base, his original position before he was moved to the outfield. Pinder took Piscotty’s spot in right, and Grossman will be in left.

Here are the lineups for both teams.

Pregame coverage on NBC Sports California starts at 12:30 p.m., with first pitch scheduled for 1:07.

A's A.J. Puk shares positive health update after shoulder setback

A's A.J. Puk shares positive health update after shoulder setback

Baseball players -- they’re just like us. Well, at least right now while the sports world is on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A’s young lefty pitchers A.J. Puk and Jesús Luzardo are both doing the same thing most of us are while participating in social distancing. Luzardo is streaming a ton of shows on Netflix (yep -- even “Tiger King”), while Puk is catching up on some sleep.

The two are also staying in shape as best they can, as they told The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser recently on the A’s Plus podcast

Luzardo is lucky in that he has teammate, and fellow starting pitcher Mike Fiers, just minutes up the road from him. The two have been working out, while maintaining social distancing, of course. 

Luzardo and Fiers are using free weights in the middle of an open field down in Florida and training with a mutual friend.

Puk is doing something similar and is able to throw off the mound at his facility in Iowa and is able to use the bullpens at the local colleges if need be. That also means he’s making progress coming off of a minor setback to a shoulder strain prior to the spring training cancelations.

“Everything’s feeling fine,” Puk told Slusser. “Probably the best my shoulder’s felt in a while, actually you know, since coming back from Tommy John.”

Puk said he heard that there could be a portion following the surgery where the shoulder could flare-up.

“You just kind of have to work through it, I think maybe I was just at that stage of it,” Puk said. “I’m feeling great right now -- just real happy where I’m at right now.”

Puk underwent TJ surgery in April of 2018 and said there could be a silver lining with the regular-season delay.

“Maybe some extra time to get my stuff feeling good,” Puk said.

He’s getting sick of the “little injuries,” and wants to make sure he’s fully ready to go when, and if, the season begins this year.

Puk was only able to throw three Cactus League innings but struck out two in the process.

Luzardo knows he and Puk have a huge spotlight on them being the young lefties with so much potential heading into their rookie seasons. But Luzardo is aware this hiatus is more than just a pushback to his first full year as a big leaguer. 

“In my shoes, my position is kind of irrelevant to the bigger picture. I’m not too caught up in how I’m affected by it rather than how other people are being affected by it.”

There’s a bigger picture there.

Luzardo came out of the bullpen last season and was sensational boasting a 1.50 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 12 innings. 

[RELATED: Buddy Reed hopes to reunite to Puk in majors]

MLB had recently discussed a plan that could move the sport to the Phoenix, Ariz. area. All 30 teams would be playing in the area and would have to be quarantined to their hotels, but that also meant the season could start as early as May.

They both had different thoughts on that.

And another silver lining? Luzardo believes the absence of the sport of baseball now could make the heart grow fonder.

Mike Fiers, Jesús Luzardo build close bond while social distancing in pandemic

Mike Fiers, Jesús Luzardo build close bond while social distancing in pandemic

Baseball can occasionally manifest some pretty fascinating personal connections.

Like how Mike Fiers, the eldest starter in the A's rotation, currently is forging an even tighter bond with Jesús Luzardo, one of his youngest counterparts.

“He only lives like 10 minutes from me,” Fiers told NBC Sports California on Tuesday from Florida. “So it’s not even like the home state, it’s like the home city.”

But their acquaintance didn’t start in Oakland. It actually began in the late 2000s.

“I remember him as a 10-, 11-year-old kid,” Fiers said. “Throwing bullpen [sessions] over by my high school, and helping out over there.”

Fiers has been following the lefty’s journey ever since. What a coincidence they’d end up on the same big league team.

“Obviously he became a big name coming through high school," Fiers said, "and his velocity getting up there, and then being a high draft pick.”

Now the two are workout partners in the strangest of times, with MLB, sports and much of life on complete pause.

Fiers and Luzardo get together every couple of days and complete socially-distanced pitching workouts, where they are able to push and provide each other inspiration.

“We cut it down to only a couple of guys,” Fiers said of the workouts. “We know how serious this thing is, and nobody wants to jeopardize their families and their livelihood.”

[RELATED: Fiers gifted Profar, Laureano for catches to save no-hitter]

The pair are taking thorough precautions in the no-contact sessions, which also feature strategically placed bottles of Purell hand sanitizer. There’s also a portable pitching mound, supplied by Fiers.

“We actually took that out to a church,” Fiers said. “It’s the only place we have left, a church parking lot. There’s a field next to it. So we just keep that pitching mound under a tree.”

It’s hardly the Coliseum, but it will have to do for now.