The temptation, as it always seems to be this time of year, is to write off the A’s. They suffered another major injury last night in Boston when Mike Piazza went down for at least a month, they fell back below .500 and stayed 2 1/2 games back of the Angels in the AL West.
But you know what? If I’m an A’s player this afternoon, I’m not anywhere near panicking. Injuries have ripped through the clubhouse like the common flu on many occasions, and always, somehow, the A’s manage to hang in there enough to make things interesting in August and September. That has to build an underlying confidence in the clubhouse, and that comes into play big-time at times like this.
The loss of Piazza is devastating, no doubt, but its impact should be lessened by the return of Nick Swisher and Milton Bradley from hamstring injuries (of course, how long Bradley remains back is a whole different question), perhaps within the week. The starting pitching remains solid, and the A’s continue to play good defense. That’s been their formula for years. Let’s face it, this is not a team that, even when 100 percent, will beat youhttp://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/standings?date=20050501 with its bats.
So onward to Tampa Bay they go. And don’t get me wrong. They can ill-afford to suffer through the kind of May they had in 2005, when they fell 15 below .500. But the key will be to hang as close to .500 or a few games below it, until the bodies get sound. Given the winners that have filled this clubhouse, I wouldn’t bet against it.