Lefty Eric Surkamp was sent to Triple-A Nashville Monday after giving up six runs in 4.2 innings in Toronto Sunday.
The A’s demotion of left-handed starter Eric Surkamp Monday leaves Friday’s spot in the rotation open, and while that will likely be filled by Jesse Hahn, the A’s aren’t ready to commit to him or to lefty Sean Manaea.
“We’re not sure yet,’’ manager Bob Melvin said after the club brought up reliever Andrew Triggs to take Surkamp’s name on the roster. “We’ll make a decision at the proper time for that.’’
The proper time may well depend on the weather for this week’s four-game series in Comerica Park. Rain had the potential to be a problem Monday and rain is expected again for the getaway game on Thursday afternoon.
The A’s had expected Hahn to make the starting rotation out of spring training, but he struggled throughout Cactus League play. Surkamp made the rotation when Felix Doubront was injured and Hahn was ineffective. Surkamp’s signature game was a seven-inning relief performance in his Bay Bridge Series start against the Giants April 2 in the Coliseum.
Even at the time, Melvin said he’d “be shocked if Hahn wasn’t back, and in our estimation very soon, too.’’ If the A’s make the move now, it would be after four Pacific Coast League starts for Hahn with the Nashville Sounds.
Manaea was one of the A’s big finds of the spring, and while he has a 2-0 record, 1.50 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, he’s not on the 40-man roster, and the A’s would have to find space on the 40-man rotation, not always an easy thing to do.
The right-hander had been expected to be the second or third starter in the rotation, but he fought his control all spring and didn’t look anything like the pitcher he’d been with the A’s last year, compiling an 11.15 ERA in spring training.
Hahn had allowed one run in his first 14 innings for the Sounds before Sunday, when he allowed three runs in 3.1 innings, giving up seven hits. His ERA sits at 2.04 with a 1.42 WHIP and .246 opponents’ batting average.
–The A’s claimed Triggs on waivers in March from Baltimore, which apparently wasn’t willing to wait on a 27-year-old who’d pitched in just one game above Double-A level.
But he’d had a tremendous 2015 season at Double-A Bowie with a 1.03 ERA, 17 saves and .196 opponents’ batting average.
“It would have been nice to see in the spring,’’ Melvin said. “But we’ve seen some video of him, people in development like him, he’s got some deception to his delivery and all reports are good.’’
Triggs’ numbers with Nashville aren’t bad if you look past his 5.14 ERA. He’s 2-1 and opponents are hitting just .214 against him. His bloated ERA stems from an April 14 appearance in which he allowed three earned runs in one-third of an inning. Beyond that, he’s allowed just one run in 6.2 innings this month.
Triggs has been with three organizations – the Royals, Orioles and now A’s – in the last 13 months, and the claim by Oakland worked out well for him. Nashville, in addition to being the A’s Triple-A location, is Triggs’ hometown, so he’d been pitching in front of family consistently.
And his parents, Betty and Austin, flew Monday from Nashville to Detroit with the hope of witnessing his big league debut.
Triggs said Nashville manager Steve Scarsone played a trick on him in telling him he’d been promoted.
“I was the bullpen coach yesterday, and I had the walkie-talkie,’’ Triggs said. “Scar brought me in after the game and told me I’d broken it, and I’d have to pay for it. And then he said I could do it in Oakland. That was cool, obviously a thrill.’’
–Jed Lowrie said he’s been having calf problems with both legs, and while he said it was good to get a day off Sunday to rest in Toronto off Rogers Center’s artificial turf, he probably could have played. With the A’s having games on the next 10 consecutive days “that probably went into their decision,’’ Lowrie said.
–It will be interesting to see if Billy Butler starts Wednesday’s game when the tigers are scheduled to throw Justin Verlander. The DH generally doesn’t start against right-handers and the right-handed Verlander has a long history as an A’s killer. But Butler’s slash line against him is staggering – .405/.468/.536 – with two homers. Butler credits that in part to playing in the AL Central and seeing the Tigers 19 times a year when he was with the Royals.
–Josh Reddick got a new supply of bats, and not a moment too soon. He broke eight bats in his first starts on this road trip.
–Nashville pitcher Dillon Overton was named the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week for throwing his first career complete game. They lefty allowed one run in seven innings in the second game of a doubleheader against Colorado Springs on April 20. He allowed five hits but no walks and struck out five.