OAKLAND – As the A’s welcome two new members into their starting rotation, they hope they’re not parting ways with Chris Bassitt for a prolonged period.
Bassitt went on the 15-day disabled list with what is being initially diagnosed as a strained elbow. The right-hander revealed Friday that his elbow has bothered him most of the season going back to spring training, but he didn’t bring it up to the coaching staff until after Thursday’s loss at Detroit, when Bassitt got knocked around for the second consecutive start.
He underwent an MRI on Friday morning, and the A’s didn’t have results by the time manager Bob Melvin addressed the media before the homestand opener against the Houston Astros.
Bassitt said he’d been getting treatment on his elbow and hoped it was just normal early-season tendinitis he was working through. He impressed in back-to-back seven-inning outings in his second and third starts, but over his last two outings, against Toronto and Detroit, he allowed a combined 13 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings.
“It just hasn’t gotten better, it’s actually gotten worse,” Bassitt said. “My velo just went down a pretty good amount, and obviously it’s affected me. Hopefully we caught it before it’s anything significant.
“… Every pitcher, you’re going to have dead arm and you’re gonna have pains to start the year off. I was hoping that’s kind of what it was. So far it doesn’t seem like that.”
In describing how much the elbow discomfort has affected his pitching, Bassitt replied:
“I literally cannot throw off-speed. My curve ball was nothing. My slider was straight.”
It wasn’t until Thursday that Bassitt notified the coaching staff of how much his elbow was bothering him. Manager Bob Melvin was asked if he wished Bassitt would have come forward earlier.
“Pitchers sometimes have some aches and pains,” he said. “I think that’s what he thought it was. It certainly didn’t come across our desk. … It did later on yesterday, enough to the point where (head athletic trainer) Nick (Paparesta) wanted it to get looked at.”
Said Bassitt: “I didn’t want to say anything because I’ve worked harder than I ever have this offseason. I felt so excited and prepared going into the season. For this to happen just really sucks. There’s nothing else to say. It sucks.”
The revelation of Bassitt’s injury comes as highly touted prospect Sean Manaea makes his major league debut in Friday’s series opener against the Astros. He’ll be followed Saturday by Jesse Hahn, who will officially be recalled from Triple-A Nashville before that game. The A’s are carrying eight relievers for Friday’s game, so a reliever is likely headed back to the minors to clear a 25-man roster spot for Hahn.
Hahn flew to Oakland and joined his teammates Friday. The right-hander went 0-1 with a 2.04 ERA in four starts with Nashville. He issued nine walks in 17 2/3 innings, so his form hasn’t been razor-sharp. But Hahn also had his routine thrown out of whack in his past two starts because of weather postponements. Melvin said reports were that Hahn’s sinker has regained its downward movement, which was his main issue during a shaky Cactus League season that earned him a ticket to the minors in the first place.
“I was pretty motivated,” Hahn said. “I just wanted to make it a short stay and do everything I needed to do to get back up here as quick as possible.”
Outfielder Sam Fuld, who was placed on the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot for Manaea, will require surgery on his left shoulder, Melvin announced. Fuld’s shoulder has been slow to recover since he injured it making a throw to home plate during a spring exhibition.
The A’s have reworked their rotation a bit. After Hahn’s start, Rich Hill will pitch on regular rest Sunday. Kendall Graveman will go Monday against Seattle on two extra days’ rest and Sonny Gray starts Tuesday on one extra day of rest.
Third baseman Danny Valencia said he’s tested his strained left hamstring by running 30-yard sprints and come out of it well. He’s hitting off a pitching machine and feels confident he’ll be eligible to come off the DL the first day he’s eligible, which is next Friday.
Henderson Alvarez will make his next rehab start Saturday for Single-A Stockton against Modesto. He'll go four innings or about 60 pitches.