David Forst

A.J. Puk to start playing catch after strain, A's GM David Forst says

A.J. Puk to start playing catch after strain, A's GM David Forst says

A.J. Puk will start the season on the injured list after sustaining a shoulder strain last week. 

A’s general manager David Forst offered an update on Puk during media availability, saying he believes the left-handed pitcher will begin playing catch on Friday, and when the club heads out on the road, Puk will go to the alternate training site in San Jose to continue his work.

“I don’t have the full protocol from Dr. ElAttrache in front of me, but I believe he will start playing catch today,” Forst told reporters Friday. "Look, that’s a rough injury for him and for us to deal with, but all in all, I think we came out of summer spring training pretty healthy and pretty ready to go."

The A's are scheduled to play in Seattle next Friday and more than likely head there following their afternoon game against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. 

A’s manager Bob Melvin also said on Tuesday it would “be a little while before we see [Puk],” without giving an official estimate as to when exactly that might be. 

The setback of Puk was an additional wrench thrown in what looked like to be a strong starting rotation. Jesús Luzardo tested positive for coronavirus two weeks ago, and despite not feeling sick or believing he didn’t come into contact with anyone with COVID-19, he had to isolate himself for a period of time and tested negative twice at least 24 hours apart.

Luzardo is back now, and Forst hopes he’s ready to eventually join that starting rotation. The delay has the 22-year-old beginning the season coming out of the bullpen.

[RELATED: Why A's believe they'll thrive in shortened MLB season]

That’s a job Luzardo has more than proved he’s successful at, pitching in six games of relief in 2019 with a 1.50 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 12 innings which was good enough for a 0.667 WHIP.

The A's also sought to have Chris Bassitt and Daniel Mengden as part of that starting squad heading into Opening Day. 

Marcus Semien embraces leadership role to keep A's safe amid coronavirus

Marcus Semien embraces leadership role to keep A's safe amid coronavirus

Marcus Semien reached out to general manager David Forst before the A’s started their three-week training camp at Oakland Coliseum.

The shortstop told his GM that he’s going to take a leadership role in making sure A's players are staying as safe as possible during baseball’s return to work.

Semien is a Bay Area native and a full-time resident here. He sees how seriously people are taking the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and wants to make sure the A’s act the same way. It’s not just about keeping 42 finely tuned athletes healthy. It’s about more vulnerable parts of the A’s staff still going about their business.

Forst came away thoroughly impressed. Semien talked about setting a good example, and at times being a traffic cop.

“There are a lot of ways you can do it., especially amongst the group,” Semien said in a Tuesday video conference. “We talked today about it, reminding people that if you see someone not following the protocols, I have no problem reminding someone to put a mask on. It’s not me trying to be a stickler. Everybody understands why it’s important. With the testing system that we have, it’s known that we don’t get results right away. That means you have to do everything you can to be safe at all times.”

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Major League Baseball’s testing system has already caused some hiccups. The A’s full squad couldn’t get on the field Sunday because they’re intake results got delayed over the Fourth of July holiday. They had to wait until Monday night to take the field while results were processed. There were a bunch of elite ball players waiting in the parking lot for the green light to start work

“There was a possibility that we could get sent home if we didn’t get the results in, but we told [A”s manager Bob Melvin] that we would wait to hear what they were,” Semien said. “For everybody who is negative, we were able to get in the building. It was a little later than we wanted to do it, but I’m glad we got the work in last night so we could have a good day today.”

The A’s played a simulated game Tuesday afternoon, and Semien had a groundout, a double off the wall and a single up the middle. It was clear he enjoyed just talking baseball as MLB tries to return to work while trying to keep infections to a minimum.

The game should be the same between the foul lines, though Semien gladly accepts the additional responsibility. He’ll try to match the career-year of 2019 on the field while increasing his leadership role at a time when he needs it most.

“It’s a tough one, and it’s why I’m going to be as safe as I can be. I’m not just going to be thinking about myself,” Semien said. “I’m thinking about teammates, coaches, my family. That’s something that we have to live with off the field anyway. We get to do what we love and go back to work. We’re all in good spirits because of that. The testing thing, I’m hearing it could get better. It’s still early in the process and I knew there would be some hiccups along the way. As long as we can minimize the positive tests, it’ll get better over time.”

[RELATED: Diekman says MLB coronavirus testing delays 'just can't happen']

Forst is thankful to have someone like that in the clubhouse to make sure everyone’s adhering as closely as possible to the safety protocols.

“Everybody is in this together,” Forst said. “That was something that Marcus relayed to me unsolicited and I really appreciated that, and I trust that he'll lead those conversations with teammates and that we'll have other guys step up and do the same thing."

Jake Diekman says MLB coronavirus testing delays 'just can't happen'

Jake Diekman says MLB coronavirus testing delays 'just can't happen'

Jake Diekman was happy to finally be back on the field with position players on Tuesday. It had been the first time he’s thrown off of a dirt mound against hitters in four months. 

The A’s reliever threw 10 pitches to outfielder Ramón Laureano, who was “locked in.”

“[Laureano] said it was a ball, but it was a strike,” Diekman quipped in a Zoom interview with reporters.

Diekman felt good, but there were more pressing matters on his mind.

The A's reliever remained outspoken about the delay in coronavirus testing results, which put a postponement and cancelation on some MLB team’s workouts, including the A’s.

He let out a small chuckle when asked if his frustrations have lessened since discussing potentially opting out

"Testing still is very, very slow," he said. "What -- there are two teams, maybe more than that -- that aren't even going out on the field today? That just can't happen. I have no idea what else to say."

"This is the first time they've probably ever done this, this lab is probably getting anywhere -- I have no idea how many they're getting a week, I read somewhere it's like 15,000 -- so if they've never done that, I can't do math in my head right, but I don't know how many you have to do in a day. I know they're trying their hardest, but I don't know if that's good enough for right now."

Diekman said it was worrisome specifically should the team go on a road trip. If there was a situation where they would only get results at one time, "that's not very good with 45-50 people in the clubhouse at a time," he explained.

He doesn't believe he's alone in the sentiment, either.

"When I said that I think that there's a little part in everyone's mind that thinks this whole thing is going to get shut down, I think everyone has a little bit of fear, they might not say it, but there's a little bit of fear that might happen -- because if they don't get this figured out, I mean -- you can't have teams not practicing a day or two in a row and we have two weeks until the regular season starts. There's just no way that should happen. 

"I feel that you have to be something of a realist."

Diekman also wanted to make sure that those around him, including players and everyone involved in the season, takes the necessary precautions to stay safe during the season.

"You can get every single essential item delivered to your house. If you can't do it for 90 days, I honestly don't know if I really want to talk to you," he said. "We want to play like, tomorrow. I want to play no matter what. The only way I won't play is if this whole thing gets shut down."

"I hope they get the testing figured out," he continued. "I don't want it to be the 24th [of July] and they just bang the whole thing. That's how I feel. I'm going to get a lot of s--t for this, but I don't really care. We have to get testing more than three or four days out. Otherwise, the entire clubhouse will be affected on a 10-day road trip."

[RELATED: Everything you need to know about A's 2020 restart]

Star rookie pitcher Jesús Luzardo reportedly tested positive for coronavirus, as the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser reported Tuesday. While he will be self-isolated for 14 days, Diekman said he hadn't personally spoken to Luzardo since the news of his results came out and didn't want to comment any further than that.