OAKLAND – The A’s welcomed super-utility man Ben Zobrist back to the active roster Monday, and they’ll get another key piece back Tuesday.
Manager Bob Melvin said closer Sean Doolittle will be activated from the disabled list Tuesday after missing the first 47 games with a shoulder injury. Melvin reiterated Doolittle won’t immediately return to the closer’s role, instead getting action in a couple non-save situations, but having the lefty back after such a long absence will be welcome for a bullpen whose struggles this season have been well-documented.
“Just having his presence down there, what he can offer to us, whether it’s earlier in the game against some lefties -- an issue we’ve had a little bit –- it’ll be nice,” Melvin said. “And then hopefully we can work him into that closer spot …”
Zobrist, coming back from arthroscopic left knee surgery, is not in Monday’s lineup against Detroit. That’s because he’s played full games the past two days on rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville, and Melvin said he was probably going to have to rest either Monday or Tuesday. Zobrist is available off the bench Monday and will make his first start Tuesday.
Zobrist had surgery to clean out frayed cartilage in his knee April 28. The estimated timetable for recovery was four to six weeks, and he’s pleased that he’s made it back from the DL in less than four weeks.
He said it will take time for his first-step quickness and side-to-side movements, which he needs most at second base, to fully return. In the outfield, Zobrist was tested heavily during his innings in left field while on his rehab assignment. That went well.
As for running , “I would say it’s close to normal. It doesn’t feel completely normal yet. Running on the bases and stuff it feels weaker than the other leg, but I don’t think it’s very noticeable at all.”
He said trainers with Nashville and Single-A Stockton told him his running appeared fine to the naked eye.
In other news, third baseman Brett Lawrie is out of the lineup for a third consecutive day with back soreness.
“He’s better. He could have played today,” Melvin said. “With today being a day game, we’ll give him this and hopefully be past his issues right now. He’s probably available off the bench. Anytime a guy says he feels pretty good, it’s probably best to give him another day.”
However, first baseman Ike Davis’ strained quadriceps is a more serious issue, and it doesn’t appear the A’s will get him back anytime soon. He is doing strengthening exercises but no baseball work yet.
“We thought this might be close to a four-week thing anyway,” Melvin said.
Lefty reliever Eric O’Flaherty threw off the mound Monday and Melvin said if O’Flaherty’s shoulder bounces back from that workout OK, he could go out on a minor league rehab assignment. With Fernando Abad struggling to retire lefties, it will benefit the A’s to add two more healthy southpaws to the mix, particularly their closer.
With Doolittle’s return, “we can push (Tyler) Clippard back a little bit,” Melvin said. “And (Evan) Scribner’s been pitching well for us. When we get in those games, the seventh inning when we have a lead, we’ll probably have a much better chance with (Doolittle available).”