In for Joe Stiglich again tonight …
Friday night, Bob Melvin almost made it through a 13-minute session with the media without talking about an A’s injury. Then he blew it by mentioning on his own that reliever Grant Balfour was iffy to pitch after he was hit in a back with a baseball earlier in the week.
Saturday night, it was back to the status quo — injury talk right out of the blocks. This time, reliever Michael Wuertz. He’s headed to the 15-day DL with what the A’s are terming right thumb tendinitis, and Jerry “The Human Yo-Yo” Blevins is being recalled once again from Triple-A.
If you saw Wuertz pitch Friday night in giving up four earned runs in the eighth inning, including a three-run homer to Minnesota’s Michael Cuddyer, you might have suspected something was wrong. Wuertz has … well, he isn’t sure. It’s not really a thumb injury so much as a wrist condition which affects him almost like carpal tunnel.
“The way he torques his slider, it puts a lot of pressure on that area,” the manager said. “He grips the ball back and throws a slider a little bit differently than most. After the first 15 pitches or so, you could see the stuff go down and the velocity on the slider go down. So it’s flared up on him enough that it’s been a little bit of a concern.”
There wasn’t much trade talk involving the A’s as the game neared, but several baseball sources in the East reported during the game that the Boston Red Sox had acquired pitcher Rich Harden for Triple-A first baseman Lars Anderson. Neither team has officially announced it as of yet, but that could happen as soon as the conclusion of tonight’s game.
Josh Willingham was in the lineup Saturday night. He’s at DH, Hideki Matsui’s in LF. Suppose it doesn’t matter where to those who don’t wish to see the A’s biggest power threat traded. Right now, it looks like he just might stay. Even his wife sent a note out on Twitter saying that she’d be surprised if her husband was dealt.
The Pirates were reportedly interested in Willingham and possibly one of the A’s relievers, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that those talks are now dead and that they never really caught fire in the first place. The Braves and Red Sox have also been mentioned regarding Willingham, but nothing serious appears to be in the works.
Willingham going to DH is just a precautionary thing, by the way. He said Friday his Achilles is feeling good, but as Melvin said, “We want to make sure it continues to feel good.”
As for all the other A’s possible trade commodities … nothing worth mentioning. The Rangers acquired reliever Koji Uehara Saturday, which will surely end all the speculation regarding their reported pursuit of Andrew Bailey, which never seemed like a serious possibility. Surprising there haven’t been more discussions involving Coco Crisp, who’s healthy, playing well and would be a terrific addition at the top of some contender’s lineup.
Of course, things could change on a moment’s notice, and the trade deadline isn’t until 4 p.m. Sunday.
If there was a bright spot to Friday night’s 9-5 loss, it was the performance of right-handed reliever Fautino De Los Santos, who replaced Gio Gonzalez in the sixth and got out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam. He had a long two-out battle with the Twins’ Joe Mauer, but finally retired Mauer on a weak fly to left.
Melvin said he really likes what he’s seeing from De Los Santos
“We’re kind of spoon-feeding him into a more prominent role,” he said. “He is definitely a stuff type of guy who has the ability to either be a set-up guy or a closer down the road. You don’t want to throw him all at once and say, `Here’s the seventh inning.” But we’re moving him up and last night was another step in that direction. He comes in bases loaded, one out and gets us out of it. As long as he throws the ball over the plate, he’s going to be good.”
Melvin doesn’t really have any concrete answers about the woefulness of the A’s defense other than to say it’s a “work in progress.” He did say that after Gonzalez’s throwaway at second base on a potential double play comebacker might prompt some pitchers’ fielding practice soon.
A’s: 2B Weeks, CF Crisp, LF Matsui, DH Willingham, RF DeJesus, 1B Jackson, SS Pennington, 3B Sizemore, C Powell. P Moscoso
Twins: CF Revere, 2B Plouffe, C Mauer, 1B Cuddyer, RF Kubel, DH Thome, 3B Valencia, LF Young, SS Nishioka. P Blackburn