Just over 13 months after undergoing Tommy John surgery to have a replacement ligament put in his right elbow, A’s starter A.J. Griffin came off the disabled list Saturday.
That doesn’t mean he’ll be joining the A’s, however. He’s be activated and optioned to Triple-A Nashville, the team for whom he started Friday night, throwing 4.1 innings, giving up eight hits and six runs, four of them homers.
The runs and homers notwithstanding, this is a big step for Griffin, who was shut after a March 13, 2014 Cactus League start and operated on April 30 once it became clear that rest wasn’t going to relieve the problem in his elbow.
Friday’s injury rehabilitation start went without any walks, which A’s manager Bob Melvin said was a sign that his command was reasonably good, even if the home runs suggested he was getting too many pitches up in the strike zone.
“His command was good, maybe up in the strike zone a little bit with velo in the 86 range,’’ Melvin said. “The reports that we got weren’t bad, he just gave up a few homers. It was his longest stint, 80 pitches, and I know he felt good, and that’s what we’re looking for right now.
“He’s not ready to be here right now. It’ll take him some time before we’ll potentially get him up here.’’
–To make room on the 40-man roster for Griffin, the A’s moved closer Sean Doolittle to the 60-day disabled list, the list that Griffin had been on before being activated. Doolittle now doesn’t count against the 40-man roster. And it’s further evidence that the left-hander is likely not to pitch much, if at all, again this season after his shoulder suffered a second strain the last week of May.
–First baseman Ike Davis played five innings at first base Friday for Nashville in the game that Griffin started. It was the first injury rehab assignment for Davis since suffering a left quad strain in May. He went 1-for-3 and Melvin said the reports were that Davis hit the ball hard on all three occasions. He’s scheduled for a seven-inning start Saturday.
–Right fielder Josh Reddick had homers in both Thursday and Friday’s games, but he wasn’t in Saturday’s starting lineup. It was a scheduled day off, tied in part to Reddick’s .143 career batting average against Angels’ starter C.J. Wilson.
–Moving into right field in Reddick’s stead was Sam Fuld, who has struggled all season until getting five hits in his last seven at-bats, including a pinch-hit single Friday. Fuld is that rare lefty hitter whose numbers (.245 batting average, .323 on-base percentage) are better against lefties than against right-handers (.228 and .307). “He’s a guy I look to get in there against lefties,’’ Melvin said.
–Catcher Josh Phegley was in the fifth spot in the Oakland batting order Saturday, the first time this season that’s happened. Phegley has been a something of a rampage with 16 hits in his last 43 at-bats over his last 14 games. Against lefties as a whole he’s hitting .357 with both of his homers, including one Friday. Melvin likes the chance to play Phegley behind the plate and get Stephen Vogt a break – the catcher has been at first base both Friday and Saturday with the Angels throwing lefties – and it’s paid off. His last five hits have included four doubles and Friday’s solo homer.
–The A’s signed nine more picks from this week’s draft, including their third-round pick Dakota Chalmers, once of just five high school (North Forsyth, GA) players taken by the A’s in the draft. Also signing were 1B Chris Ararat (12th, Houston), 2B Ryan Howell (15th, Nevada) , RHP Dustin Hurlbutt (16th, Tabor College), C Brett Sunde (18th, Western Michigan), OF Seth Brown (19th, Lewis & Clark State), LHP Andrew Tomasovich (21st, Charleston Southern), C Jordan Devencenzi (26th, Nevada) and SS Tim Proudfoot (35th Texas Tech). Chalmers was 4-4 with a 1.50 ERA in 12 games, striking out 82 in 51.1 innings without allowing a homer. The A’s have now signed or agreed to terms with 27 of their 40 picks in the draft, including eight of the first 10 and 16 of the first 21.