Athletics

What Matt Olson injury means for A's offense, defense at first base

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AP/USATSI

What Matt Olson injury means for A's offense, defense at first base

The A's fears became a reality Friday when Gold Glove first baseman Matt Olson had to undergo surgery on his right hand.

No timetable has been provided for Olson's return, but a 2018 article in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine which studied similar procedures suggests he will likely miss three to seven weeks.

This is obviously a huge loss for Oakland. Beyond Olson's terrific defense, the 24-year-old provided tremendous power in the middle of the lineup.

Last season, Olson slashed .247/.335/.453 with 29 home runs and 84 RBI. That production won't be easy to replace, but the A's do have some reasonable options.

Platoon players Mark Canha and Chad Pinder can both play first base, and carry plenty of power in their bats. Canha clubbed 17 home runs and 22 doubles last year in just 365 at-bats. Pinder, meanwhile, hit 28 homers in 580 at-bats over the last two seasons.

Another option for the A's is to move Jurickson Profar to first base -- where he played 24 games last year -- and start Franklin Barreto at second. Barreto is coming off a terrific spring, hitting .375 (12-for-32) with a home run, four doubles, three RBI, five walks, and eight runs scored.

Barreto now has a great chance to make the 25-man roster in Olson's place. The 23-year-old has long been considered one of the A's top prospects, but has never had a chance to get consistent playing time in the big leagues. Oakland moved him from second base to the outfield this spring, but now a return to second makes sense.

[RELATED: Can A's regroup after rough beginning to season?]

The A's are fortunate to have enough offensive depth to survive the loss of Olson, but the biggest impact will likely show up on defense. Olson's height and scooping ability at first base will be incredibly hard to replace.

Nonetheless, Oakland showed the ability to overcome injury adversity last season. The A's just have to do it again this year.

Rob Manfred explains why he didn't strip Astros' World Series, punish players

Rob Manfred explains why he didn't strip Astros' World Series, punish players

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred defended his punishments for the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal during their World Series-winning 2017 season, and his decision to grant players immunity for cooperating with the league's investigation. 

In an interview with ESPN's Karl Ravech that aired Sunday, Manfred explained why he didn't punish Astros players. 

"I understand people's desire to have the players pay a price for what went on here," Manfred said. "I think if you watch the players, watch their faces when they have to deal with this issue publicly, they have paid a price. To think they're skipping down the road into spring training, happy, that's just a mischaracterization of where we are.

"Having said that, the desire to have actual discipline imposed on them, I understand it and in a perfect world it would have happened. We ended up where we ended up in pursuit of really, I think, the most important goal of getting the facts and getting them out there for people to know it."

Manfred suspended manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Lunhow for a year without pay. Hours after their suspensions, Astros owner Jim Crane fired Hinch and Lunhow last month. The Astros also lost four MLB draft picks and were fined $5 million. 

While there has been an outcry for harsher punishments, Manfred previously has stated he has no plans of stripping the Astros of their World Series title. He also further explained in his interview with Ravech why there hasn't been punishments handed down on the players. 

Manfred told Ravech that discipline to players likely would have resulted in grievances from the Major League Baseball Players Association. The commissioner cited Luhnow's failure to communicate to the Astros' players the contents of a 2017 memorandum outlining MLB's policy on the use of technology.

"Well, they just didn't do it. It's in my report. The memorandum went to the general manager, and then nothing was done from the GM down," Manfred said. "So we knew if we had disciplined the players in all likelihood we were going to have grievances and grievances that we were going to lose on the basis that we never properly informed them of the rules. Given those two things, No. 1, I knew where, or I'm certain where the responsibilities should lay in the first instance and given the fact we didn't think we could make discipline stick with the players, we made the decision we made.

"Having said that, I understand the reaction. The players, some of them in a more articulate way than others, have said, admitted they did the wrong thing. And I understand that people want to see them punished for that, and in a perfect world, they would have been punished."

Manfred says he understands all the reactions that have come against himself and the Astros alike. Though he won't be punishing players or taking the Astros' title away, Manfred did insist new rules are coming for the 2020 season regarding the usage of technology. 

[RELATED: Fiers says Astros 'cheated as a team' in response to Correa]

"No question we'll have a new policy before the 2020 season," Manfred said. "I don't deny video can help you perform if you have access to it during the game, but a golfer can't come off the sixth and take a look at his swing. ... We're going to have to live with less access to live video in and around the dugout and clubhouse."

Again, this story isn't over. Manfred will address media later Sunday at 1:30 p.m. PT.

A's Mike Fiers won't respond to Carlos Correa, says Astros 'cheated as a team'

A's Mike Fiers won't respond to Carlos Correa, says Astros 'cheated as a team'

As the story keeps unfolding on the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal, A's pitcher Mike Fiers is trying to move on. 

When asked Sunday by the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser if he wants to respond to Astros shortstop Carlos Correa saying Fiers "should be man enough" to say Houston second baseman Jose Altuve didn't use the team's trash can method, the A's pitcher declined to comment. But he did add one quote as he walked away. 

"We (the Astros) cheated as a team," Fiers said to Slusser.

Of all the Astros players, Correa has been the most outspoken and the most remorseful in recent days. But he also has come to the defense of Altuve.

"Mike Fiers know that [Jose] Altuve didn't use the trash can," Correa said Saturday to reporters. "You guys are gonna find out because I'm sure somebody is gonna ask him, and he's gonna tell everybody.

"If he's man enough to tell the truth and tell his story and break this story, he should be man enough to say that the MVP of 2017 didn't use it."

Fiers, who played on the Astros during the 2017 season when Houston electronically stole signs and won the World Series, originally broke the story in an interview with The Athletic. The veteran pitcher signed with the Detroit Tigers after the 2017 season and was traded to the A's in August 2018. He told both the Tigers and A's about the Astros' sign-stealing concoctions. 

Slusser reported Wednesday that A's manager Bob Melvin said the A's had called the league about the Astros cheating allegations prior to Fiers going on record. MLB, however, didn't do anything until Fiers went public. 

[RELATED: A's contacted MLB about Astros cheating]

Astros players received immunity for cooperating with the league's investigation, but manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Lunhow were suspended for a year without pay. Hours after their suspensions, Astros owner Jim Crane fired Hinch and Lunhow. 

This story clearly isn't going away as spring training is underway, however, Fiers seems focused on the A's and the upcoming season.